Turning Young Men’s Dreams into Reality
After graduating from Mt. Union College and then receiving his master’s in education, Brandon Scarborough, now 37, realized he wanted do to more with his career than to just hold a traditional job. Throughout his life, he witnessed too many young African-American men who needed focus, who needed a path to become successful.
Then it dawned on him: “The Lord opened door and asked, ‘What are you waiting on?’ That was it. I wanted to focus on younger kids—to make an impression,” he says.
He took the sign from above and developed an 8-week program designed to mentor young African-American men ages 10 to 15, and named it Dreams Academy. “Dreams” stands for “Developing Responsible Extraordinary African-American Males for Society.”
Scarborough says the Monday night classes, held at House of the Lord Youth Center in West Akron, are designed to “holistically encourage and teach soft skills, problem solving, career guidance and financial literacy.”
Professional African-American males who work in a variety of fields, including management, finance, health and politics, teach the classes. Health and wellness classes are held in the fall and focus on staying holistic and keeping both the body and mind healthy. Classes on politics often involve trips to court: suits and ties required. Scarborough says the concept is to have older, successful men be role models and to mentor the younger generation.
He requires students to wear a dress shirt and tie to class. “Each week we talk about etiquette: Walk with pants up, what to wear, suits and ties in city council meetings.” He recently took his students to a Juvenile Court session to teach the legal implications of not adhering to the law, for example.
“The best thing about attending Dreams Academy is you get taught things you will need to know as you progress in life,” says Grant Thompson, who is attending the Academy and is in seventh grade at Akron Middle School.
Isaac Harris, a ninth grader at Firestone High School who graduated from the Academy adds, “Being able to see more career choices available by meeting the speakers and having the opportunity to be in a real court-room have been great experiences at Dreams Academy.”
Scarborough recently added a summer Dreams Academy Camp to his curriculum. The nominal $200 fee includes activities, meals, supplies, seven ties and many field trips. At the end of each session, students attend the Dreams Academy Gala: tuxedos required (which are usually donated). “Each student will be challenged and encouraged by building their personal and professional networks. The mission is to expose young men to possibilities, to develop them into young men who will remain in community,” he says.
“Sports are not the only the way to be successful. We try to give them other avenues. Most of the kids do play sports, but we want to focus on the person. Sports makes for a good discipline; we want to focus more on character,” Scarborough asserts.—CS
Scarborough and his students attend the Dreams Academy Gala in style.
courtesy of dreams academy