Our initiative was started in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2006. A Board of Directors was formed and the foundation was laid for what was then known as RoleModels International. Its design was to educate teenagers each school year by enrolling them into our educational one (1) year program on Saturdays that would deter teenagers from low standards and into teenagers that had a restored love to learn. After the completion of the necessary filings of records with the N.C. Dept. of the Secretary of State and the I.R.S, our Nonprofit 501 (c) 3 was formed and we began our classes in 2008. RoleModels International began to strategically position itself for positive growth. We partnered with FJR Tax Office on Sugar Creek Road and The Dominion Life Center on Tyvola Road enabling our charity the rental of (2) two facilities for classroom space to educate both Middle and High school male/female youth. We had a rolling admission process for accepting perspective students throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. Students were tutored with homework, given character development courses, encouraged to begin checking/savings accounts, along with a complete course in financial literacy. We offered a complete 24 week (12 weeks in the Spring/ 12 weeks in the Fall) curriculum that would provide an education that may adequately prepare them to accelerate in school, build stronger families, become icons in their communities, accomplish their careers, build solid wealth, and succeed in today’s global market. We educated teenagers from Mecklenburg, Union, and Iredell counties. Each Saturday the students would start classes at 8:00am. We had supporters from CMS (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) and local businesses to volunteer their time by teaching classes, helping out with our youth team development field trips to the U.S. National Whitewater Center and events. At noon, we would feed our students a hot lunch prior to departure. We also selected experienced professionals to volunteer their time, as career mentors for students in our “Mentor of My Dreams” project. This project gave our students a written plan of action as a road map and a valuable opportunity to learn, first hand, through shadowing and personal contact exactly what their chosen career holds in store for them. It also helped our students to understand that staying in school and making good grades was vital to their chosen career. In November of each year, we would conduct our big event entitled, “The Wall-Street Teenager.” This was our annual business fair for teens where local small businesses would share with our students empowering success experiences of entrepreneurship. At the end of each year, we had formal graduation banquet-ceremonies for our students. We awarded them with framed Certificates of Completion, monogrammed shirts and blazers. After graduation, we continued to measure our success by monitoring our RoleModels Int’l graduates to realize that their grades increased in school, they volunteered more in their communities and had a more determined desire for college.
However, after thorough measurement and evaluation of our efforts, we realized there faced a greater challenge with the age/grade level of our students body. We realized that if our goal was to prevent youth from dropping out of school and deter poverty; then we need to begin educating our students a lot younger. We understood that the drop-out process begins for a young person as early as the sixth (6th) grade. The students begin by losing interest in education, and instead gain more interest in activities that lead to lowering their standards of achievement. As a result, by the time these children become adolescents, the drop-out process will have began to deteriorate their hopes, dreams, and desire to learn. We understood that if we continue to wait until children become teenagers; then RoleModels International will be at a disadvantage for helping most at-risk youth. For this reason, we have expanded our vision.
In order to bring about lasting change for most of the youth that we serve; we realized that we needed to change by offering leadership/ life-skill development and financial literacy to students in grades 1-12. We must be the change that we desire in our youth. We are RoleModels University!