February 10, 2017
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How to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, one teacher at a time

Get inspired by these three stories of people making change in their communities

Jason Terrell and Mario Jovan Shaw founded Profound Gentlemen to build a community of male educators of color. Photo courtesy of Profound Gentlemen

The cradle-to-career pipeline: Jason Terrell and Mario Jovan Shaw met through Teach for America, where they were assigned to teach at underserved middle schools in Charlotte, North Carolina. The two came away from their experience with a goal: they want to see more African-American male teachers. To that end, the pair started Profound Gentlemen, a nonprofit that provides mentorship to African-American students and teachers. Just last month, their efforts were recognized: Profound Gentlemen made Forbes’ 30 under 30 Social entrepreneurs list. The group hopes to replace the school-to-prison pipeline with a cradle-to-career pipeline. “Many of my students have never had a teacher who looks like them standing at the blackboard,” wrote Shaw in a letter to the Charlotte Observer. “In this reality, the choices I make carry incredible weight—from the way I dress to how I handle an argument.”

City fixer: Found a problem in your neighborhood? There’s an app for that. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, just launched an internal test of SeeClickFix, an app that allows citizens to take pictures of and report local issues—stuff like graffiti, potholes, or busted street signs—directly to City Hall. Since Detroit adopted a local-branded version of the app, named Improve Detroit, it has resolved roughly 62,760 of 68,000 issues. The app was first developed by Ben Berkowitz, a programmer, and some of his friends in New Haven, Connecticut, after repeated efforts to contact City Hall about some graffiti went nowhere. Ultimately, Berkowitz believes the app can help develop trust within communities, and between citizens and their government. “People who speak up about changing things in their neighborhoods, and the people in the government who fix things, aren’t as far apart as everyone wants to assume,” Berkowitz told Curbed.

Snow, surf, and skate: Los Angeles will host a different kind of 5k triathlon on Saturday. Participants will snowboard, then surf, and finally skateboard. Each participant in the triathlon must raise $500 to shred—and it’s all for a good cause. The “Trishredalon” will raise money for STOKED LA, a nonprofit organization that aims to “inspire teens who are the most vulnerable, to believe in themselves through action sports,” according to its website. $500 pays for one student’s enrollment in STOKED LA’s “Snow Mentor Program,” which teaches snowboarding. The founders of STOKED hope that participation in action sports—such as snowboarding and surfing—will inspire teens from low-income and underserved communities, and teach them important skills like courage and determination.

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor to The Renewal Project.