Published : Thursday, September 5, 2019 | 5:10 AM
Young men need to know the basics of post-high school survival, and getting them in the know is one of the core missions of the Gamma Zeta Boulé Foundation. The fraternity focuses on preparing young men in the greater Pasadena/Altadena community for the future with skills not taught in school, but needed in life.
Gamma Zeta Boule is the member boulé of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity. The local group has kicked off its annual social action agenda, community empowerment programming, and flagship LAMP Mentor Program, and continues to look ahead.
“We’ve built upon the legacy that came before us,” said Ramsey Jay Jr., president of GZBF. “It’s built on a two-year curriculum and providing students scholarship-like experience which they do not find in traditional high school curriculum. And at the end of the program, the young men are candidates for the financial scholarship. We build our program on the demonstrated great command of disciplines that a young person needs to master to be successful.”
The group recently opened its year with a lunch for the young men in the LAMP Mentor Program at Fleming’s Steakhouse where, with parents in attendance, goals were made clear. GZBF LAMP Mentor Program. Gilbert Holmes, Co-Program Coordinator, said that one of the goals for the Program this year is to create a Parental Auxiliary and to connect with more GZBF LAMP Alumni.
The foundation is coming off a successful year in which it has raised $100,000 for scholarship programs. And these are not your scholarships in the common financial sense. GZBF focuses on educating young men in the areas they would never even think they’d use every day.
“We have done a cooking scholarship, a Saturday campaign where we bring in a chef and teach young men how to prepare healthy meals, so they can prepare to take care of themselves,” Jay said. “Nothing against the college cafeteria but a component of a student being able to function well and to have high energy is to know how to prepare good clean food and also there’s an economic benefit to not eating out all the time.
“Another one we do is financial literacy day, where we bring in partners from Wells Fargo bank so they know what debt is, they know how to put together a budget,” he said. “That way, when you get ready to move out of mom and dad’s house you understand how it works.”
There are other areas that relate to social and civic-minded skills.
“We had another one with Pasadena law enforcement,” Jay said. “We had Pasadena Police Department come in and they went over what is the proper protocol, what are your rights, how do you talk to an officer? The exciting part about that day is we saw the police helicopter get dispatched to a crime scene. That was a powerful session for the young men.”
There are many programs out there but what makes this one different?
“It’s because it has a monthly curriculum-mandated program on Saturdays,” Jay said. “When you take a young person out of school and put them in a Saturday environment you have 100 percent of their focus without distraction. Then we have informal exercises that keep them connected through throughout the month. We meet in September, October, but in betwen we have a virtual assignment that they do that provides a summary of their learning. And everything we do is at an actual facitilty. We don’t sit in a classroom.
“We take them to meet the professionals,” he said. “We have mandated business attire. Every Saturday they have on a suit and tie. We are implementing a discipline where you prepare for excellence by how you show up. You show up for everything in a suit and tie to let everybody know you are very much focused and about your scholarship pursuits. So there’s a standard of excellence that we imbed within the program and the diversity of the curriculum and teaching things that are not taught in class and mandating lessons learned to be repeated back to us by virtual reports after each session. And with the suit and tie component, they come in meaning business because of how we make them show up for business.”
Jay is proud that the program is generating additional interest.
“When you make a tangible impact on young people it encourages support,” he said. “We had alumni from our program, we had a couple of our young men currently in college and they actually provided a scholarship for a new graduate. Imagine a 19- or 20-year-old coming back to the program that helped him get to college and saying ‘This did so much for me, I’m putting together a scholarship that I want to give to a current graduate in your program who is a year or two behind me.’ Any time you see a young person saying that ‘while I’m making it I’m coming back to give back because I know how much that meant for me,’ you have set up generational transformational change.”
The program has been going on for 10 years and has left a legacy.
“Programs like this that have an extracurricular enrichment nucleus, through arts, athletics music, there’s something that you can wrap enrichment programming around,” he said. “They love money, so we wrap financial literacy around that. They love technology so we wrap entrepreneurship around that, they love eating, so we wrapped cooking classes around that. When you get them to do it with other young people they know they’re not the only one and when they see the alumni come back it activates them to say ‘I guess this ‘is’ really worth my time.’”
For more information go to gzbfoundation.org