Stereotypes Hurt Black-Teen Programs

When 19-year-old Kaila Gilbert was in high school in La Vergne, Tenn., she was the exact type of kid that organizations designed to reach at-risk black teens might target. Her high school was “not particularly known for scholastic accomplishment,” she delicately explains to The Root.

At one point during the recession, both of her parents lost their jobs. And while she hesitates to emphasize the negative aspects of her upbringing, she admits, “It was hard living in a household like that,” and says she “probably had it a little harder than people who came from more privileged backgrounds.”

Today Gilbert is thriving as a freshman at Vanderbilt University. She’s still deciding between a major in English and one in public policy, but she sounds as if she already has a degree or two under her belt when you get her talking about the nuances of the African-American experience. Gilbert could easily be a spokesperson for the Ron Brown Scholar Program, which saw her potential when she was in high school and awarded her a $10,000-per-year scholarship packaged with leadership and service opportunities.

Hers is the exact kind of success story that the organization, which features beaming black teens decked out in business attire in its printed materials, would understandably love to use to drum up support.

Except, new research shows that people might not be inclined to give to organizations that help people who look like Gilbert: African-American youths past elementary school age. According to the study, the stereotypes thrust upon black teens may be working overtime to turn off potential donors to the very projects designed to support these young people. Read complete article at The Root

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