UCHS Has Connections to Success
Connections to Success and Man of Valor Support Young Men at UCHS
When most of us think of mars, the planet, universe and solar system come to mind. However, for the young men at University City High School who are members of Man of Valor, Inc., mars has a different meaning.
“The acronym M.A.R.S. stands for math, arts, reading and science,” said Bishop Luther D. Baker, CEO and President of Man of Valor, Inc. a nonprofit organization dedicated to “serving the total man spirit, soul, and body.”
Established in 2000 as a response to the lack of fathers in children’s lives, MOV was brought to UCHS to assist the administration and staff with students in the areas of character development, leadership, and relationship building between teachers and students.
A UCHS alumni from the class of 1978, Baker uses the M.A.R.S. Youth Development and Education Program to enlighten and uplift students.
“The M.A.R.S. mission is to help scholars develop the life skills necessary to create and maintain healthy relationships and foster a positive self-identity,” he said.
The students meet during seminar, and at the beginning of each meeting they recite affirmations that they call the “Five Star Attitude”:
I’m focused on achieving excellence. I have a definite purpose in my education. I am determined to succeed. I have a vision for my future. I make a positive difference in my school.
Baker and the staff evaluates the scholars according to the ABC’s of attendance, behavior and course performance. They also focus on social-emotional development, academic support and restorative justice.
Earlier this school year, Man of Valor worked in partnership with Connections to Success to teach professional and personal development skills to members of MOV.
Thirty young men from MOV visited Connections to Success in for three sessions to learn the soft skills needed to acquire and maintain employment. Each student received a business wardrobe, dressed from head to toe, and going forward, they will wear their suits during seminar.
“The purpose was to suit and educate on interview ready attire,” Toni Byrd, Director of Dress for Success, said. “These events were important because they were an opportunity to expose young students to success and the opportunities that are readily available to them.”
Connections to Success also offers workshops on asset building, goal setting, commitment, priorities, personal strength discovery and building, how to market yourself and career exploration.
“All of these things are very important, especially in the development of African-American males, because they’re so marginalized in our society,” Baker said. “Partnering with C2S is going to do two things. One, it’s going to expose them to their future. The second thing it’s going to do is prepare them for life.”
Each student who completes professional development through C2S will receive a summer employment opportunity, which will allow MOV to teach them financial literacy and empowerment skills.
Although they have only been working together since October of last semester, both C2S and MOV have high hopes for their partnership.
“One of my goals with the partnership is to introduce our boys to a consciousness of thinking,” Baker said. “Another goal is to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. There are jobs that they’re going to be looking at that haven’t even been created yet. But they have to be able to market themselves.”
C2S echoes Baker’s goals in that they too, want to impact various areas of students’ lives.
“I hope that the partnership will continue to grow and impact more young men,” Byrd said. “We look forward to serving the students and their families and believe in a holistic approach to success.”