The first hour bell rang at the Southfield Arts & Technology High School and the usual line of students rushing to the classrooms was punctuated with local professionals wearing suit jackets and carrying laser pointers.
Among them was Michael T. Kulka, P.E., founder and CEO of PM Environmental, who was one of the speakers invited to present at Southfield A&T High School’s Career Day on April 27th.
The event was part of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative: Project Manhood. The group started almost 20 years ago and currently has 65 male students and two primary mentors. According to Project Manhood Mentor, Malachi Hampton, the goal is to “show young men what a positive man looks like, talks like, acts like, and carries himself. Our hope was if these young men interacted with us enough, engaging in positive self-image and positive self-respect activities, they would in turn grow into positive men themselves.”
In addition to mentoring young men in the Southfield school district, Project Manhood takes part in community service, leadership training symposiums, feeding the homeless, and hosts events like the Career Day and Job Fair in April. The program aims to put on these types of events three times a year.
During this year’s event, speakers rotated through three class hours presenting to 9th and 10th grade students, and answering questions about their careers, what motivated them, and how they could become involved in that particular industry. There was a corresponding career fair for the 11th and 12th grade students, with the hopes of securing interviews possible summer positions within local companies.
“This speaking engagement was very rewarding and reinforces our company culture of giving back’” said Kulka. “This is a unique school and I was pleased to help guide them on their journey to success.”
“We talk about issues not discussed in class. Issues that many should be getting answers from fathers or male family members,” said Hampton. “Often times, I’m amazed at the questions these young men have and want to know how to deal with. Many have never interacted on a personal level with male adults before getting involved with our program.”
Project Manhood works in tandem with My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative launched by President Obama to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.