For many years, helping more young, Black and brown young men go to college has been a priority of Texas State Senator Borris L. Miles, even before becoming an elected official.
Prior to being elected to public office, Sen. Miles would take out a billboard ad near the corner of Scott St. and North Macgregor, announcing the year’s new crop of young, Black men that he was able to provide college scholarships and mentor to through a local non-profit.
In keeping with that same passion of giving back, Sen. Miles used his new role as a recently appointed State Senator in Texas to solicit state funding that will be used to adequately equip underserved young, Black and brown boys with the tools they need to pursue higher education and earn college diplomas once they complete high school.
Introducing to the City of Houston…the Miles Ahead Scholars Program.
The Miles Ahead Scholars Program is an exciting new initiative that will work toward making college attendance a reality for young, Black and brown students. Male students, in grades 9-12, are eligible to participate in the program. They will receive tutoring, character development and travel experiences to empower them to pursue academic careers at the nation’s top colleges and universities. The program is a partnership between the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the local community.
This past week, Sen. Miles officially launched the new initiative, along with HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, who both welcomed the inaugural class of the Miles Ahead Scholars Program at a ceremony held at Worthing High School, in southeast Houston.
“We need a program like the Miles Ahead Scholars to help boys of color now more than ever,” said Sen. Miles. “Black and Hispanic boys are more underrepresented at colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, and this program will help close that gap.”
The Miles Ahead Scholars Program is designed to improve academic outcomes for African American and Hispanic boys and to close the persistent gender gap between minority boys and girls attending college. The program focuses on forming cohorts of male students with academic promise and from high schools underrepresented among top colleges and universities. The program includes shared classes, developmental programming and college and career counseling.
“This is a true partnership between the state, HISD and the local community,” said Sen. Miles. “It is truly gratifying to see everyone ready to invest in the success of this program, and more importantly, the success of this class and future classes of the Miles Ahead Scholars.”
The Miles Ahead Scholars Program will begin with an initial group of sixty (60) young boys from the 9th grade and the 10th-grade, who show academic promise. The inaugural group of young boys are being selected from Wheatley, Worthing and Kashmere High Schools. The program will advise and encourage these young men through their high school graduation.
The funding for the Miles Ahead Scholars Program comes from $22 million from the TEA, which was secured by Sen. Miles during the past two legislative sessions.
The appropriation of $22 million for this program is among Sen. Miles’ most proud achievements, and is only the initial pilot amount secured, with the full backing of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Senate leadership in Texas.
“Having these students learn and work together is a proven, successful model,” said Senator Miles. “I look forward to watching these boys grow up to be young leaders in our community.”
The Miles Ahead Scholars Program team at HISD is being funded by a SSI Community Engagement Grant from the TEA. The community will provide mentors and internships for each student as well as additional financial support for the program. The program has dedicated staff to allow the students to achieve the very high goals and expectations of the program. Instructional specialists will ensure that the boys maintain a competitive Grade Point Average (GPA), and are eligible and ready for university success, including the hard and soft skills that are necessary to succeed in college. Students will receive mentorship from men of color in the community who can share their personal and professional experiences with the students.
The program sets very high goals for the scholars. They will participate in a professional internship so that they can experience the working world. They are expected to take and pass AP exams so that they earn college credit in high school. This will provide them a head start when they attend college.
Sen. Miles is encouraging the local community, especially strong men of color from the community, to serve as mentors for the Miles Ahead Scholars Program. Individuals can serve as mentors to a student, sharing their personal and professional experiences. Organizations can become a partner organization, sponsor a student, provide an internship or serve as mentors.
Anyone who is interested in being involved in the program can contact the Miles Ahead Scholars Program Director at HISD, Haskel Harvey, to serve and give back to these young, Black and brown boys. Mr. Harvey can be reached at 713-556-6746 or Haskel.Harvey@houstonisd.org.