Young Men of Color at Five Feeder Elementary Schools in the Valley Region of Elk Grove Unified will Experience Opportunity at Jackman Middle School and Valley High School
At Jackman Middle School, the new “Improve Your Tomorrow” program will work to inspire and support young men of color in becoming future leaders. Founded in 2013 by Valley High School Alumni, Michael Lynch and Michael Casper, Improve Your Tomorrow (IYT) is a non profit organization focused on breaking the school to prison pipeline for young men of color. The mission of IYT is to increase the number of young men of color who attend and graduate from colleges and universities.
The program’s vision is a future where men of color are overrepresented in higher education in the United States, underrepresented in the criminal justice system, and leaders in their community. The mission and vision of IYT are based around three core values; resilience, authenticity, and passion. As these values are taught in the program, a 12-year commitment, starting in middle school, sees each IYT individual through their college years to ensure that students are not just getting into college, but are graduating as well.
Keylen Newsome, part of the first class of IYT students and now Program Director and Community Engagement Director for IYT stated, “I strongly believe in the mission of IYT and that the work we are doing is making an impact in the communities we serve. Our first classes of IYT students are currently still being supported, despite being at colleges all over California and across the nation.” For IYT, it’s common to find many IYT students working as mentors at most IYT sites
IYT establishes a brotherhood and support system between the members, which is the most impactful component of what the program does. The bonds established between IYT members
gives our students a sense of belonging, despite where they may come from. Through mentorship, student development, college tours, internships and increased parent engagement, young men in IYT find meaningful relationships and are able to grasp a new perspective of what they can become when they invest in their education and become a role model for their community.
The “College to Community” pipeline allows current college students in IYT to serve as academic mentors at different campuses participating in IYT, like Jackman Middle School. The “College to Community” pipeline also allows current college students an opportunity to take responsibility for uplifting their community by directly serving it. Currently, IYT has students at Langston University, Sac State, Chico State, UC Davis and UCLA, to name a few. The academic support and services offered to students participating in IYT are proven, and college graduations from the first ever IYT class will take place this year. Improve Your Tomorrow teaches students to strive for success, stay resilient in the face of obstacles and work hard to improve ones community.
For more information on IYT at Jackman Middle School and other schools in Elk Grove Unified, click here.