Taylor Charles entered the Boys and Girls Club on a recent Saturday morning eager to boost his learning.
The 11-year-old sixth-grader at Morgan Road Middle School was there to participate in session of Project BBUILD, which stands for Boulé Brothers Uplifting, Influencing, Leading and Developing.
With funding from the nonprofit Ike and Justine Washington Foundation, Project BBUILD works with other organizations to improve the social, educational and economic conditions of young minority boys who attend Richmond County public middle schools. The program serves 26 pupils, all of whom live in poverty. The pupils meet with adult volunteers from Alpha Mu Boule every Saturday during the school year for tutoring and mentoring sessions.
Alfred Reed said he has been involved with the program since it began seven years ago.
“For the past seven years it’s been a pleasure getting up Saturday morning and working with the young men,” he said. “I love the fact that we regularly expose the young men to many career paths, letting them know that one day, they can achieve to a greater level.”
Lynn Haynes, the coordinator of the Boys and Girls Club of the CSRA and Project BBUILD, said that she has seen the positive effects of the program.
“When a young man named Benjamin Asbury started attending Project BBUILD on Saturday mornings, he was struggling academically. Through the tutoring offered in this program, his grades improved dramatically and he was put back on track,” she said.
Traneshia Kitchens, a first-year Project BBUILD tutor, said she is part of a team that works to teach more than just academic skills.
“I am so thankful that I got this opportunity” she said. “Because of this program, I’ve noticed that they are all trying to get an education, they are maturing and are learning not to just throw their money away.”
Now an 18-year-old senior attending Lucy C. Laney High School, Devin Saunders, a Project BBUILD alumnus, recalled how the program affected him.
“The program was overall really helpful. It taught me how to deal with things, and helped me improve the relationship with my mother,” he said. “It also taught me how to make decisions as a man and influenced my decision to attend Kennesaw State University in the fall.”
Antran Pack, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at John M. Tutt Middle School, said he has not only improved his grades but thinks the program changed his outlook on life.
“I had trouble with math and reading, but now I have an A in both classes,” Antran said. “This program is teaching me how to be responsible, intelligent, but most importantly, a leader.”
Taylor has improved academically, too. He said he owes a lot to the program’s leaders.
“They are always in my corner, letting me know that they care, which really means a lot,” he said. “In my eyes, this program is phenomenal, and I’m glad to be a part of something bigger than myself.”
Project BBUILD leaders stay in touch with their charges through high school, making sure they stay on the right track.
Dr. Ronald Brown Sr., the founder of Project BBUILD, said the pupils are like a second family to him.
“I’ve grown to love them over time,” Brown said. “I know all their names, strength and weaknesses, and because I see the greatness inside them, I challenge the boys with expectations.”