Since PEN DMV’s inception, they have held a longstanding relationship with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, Clubhouse #14, facilitating the local Passport to Manhood Program. Passport to Manhood is a national Club of American program. Locally the program runs bi-weekly mentoring sessions with high school males. Rashanna Roach had an opportunity to sit down with Shawn Osbourne, Branch Director, and Kiyah Hollowman, Program Director, to discuss this partnership, its impact, and hopes for the future.
In the beginning: The partnership began in 2012 informally with David Street hosting a book drive. After success of the book drive, Shawn asked David to become involved with the Passport to Manhood program. The program was virtually dormant after a spout with high turnover rates for facilitators. David brought the consistency and stability the program needed to reboot. Under David’s leadership and PEN DMV’s inception, the Passport to Manhood Program has grown.
Now and The Impact: PEN DMV has “taken our program and moved it beyond these walls,” says Shawn, by utilizing its network to introduce new faces and opportunities to mentees. The bi-weekly meetings offer the young men an outlet to express their feelings in a safe and constructive environment with a diverse panel of role models, specifically black professionals.Shawn and Kiyah agree that “it’s more impactful for them to hear from a new voice and a diversity of voices.” PEN DMV has inspired youth to think beyond their neighborhoods and the steps needed to succeed. For example, one of the young men who has attended Passport for the past two years is now an employee at clubhouse #14 and co-facilitating the program. The mentoring sessions has taught him soft skills and polished him. Shaw also notes the opportunities for youth to speak at conferences and the improved communication with parents as successes of the partnership with PEN DMV.
The Future: The future is bright for this partnership. PEN DMV has expanded their reach to young ladies in the Smart Girls program and will take 5 young men to New York City for the Passport to Manhood Leadership Summit in collaboration with the Harlem Children’s Zone. PEN DMV also hopes to continue to utilize its network to increase funding opportunities for the partnership. In 2015 PEN DMV and Clubhouse #14 partnered with the John Wall Foundation which was instrumental in making the program stronger and augmenting it to add a college tour and a trip to New York. Both partners would like to make these and similar activities annual and a part of the yearly curriculum.With all of the new ventures, PEN DMV will also bring on new volunteers (that’s one way you, the reader, can become involved!) to facilitate a session or become a consistent role model for the young men and now young ladies.