As the nation’s fifth largest city, Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to be a viable competitor in the global marketplace. However, that position is threatened by the undercurrent of poverty, crime and racial inequity faced by one of the city’s most promising – and underserved – groups of talent and intellect: young African-American males.

The High Price of Poverty, Crime and Racial Inequity

Over half of all city (Philadelphia) students drop out of high school, costing society an estimated $260,000 per dropout in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity. When students drop out in neighborhoods, like Point Breeze, with already high rates of unemployment, their employment prospects often are limited, resulting in too many turning to crime that puts them – and public safety – at risk.

Unless the children, males especially, experience success at an early age through the support of programs like Rearing Successful Sons, the city will face higher social costs, more crime and violence, and opportunity gaps that divide ethnic and racial communities.

Building Resilience and Support

The Rearing Successful Sons program works because it is based on the framework presented in
Reaching Teens: Strength-Based Communication Strategies to Build Resilience and Support Healthy Adolescent Development.” This award-winning study, researched by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg and Dr. Sara Kinsman – two pediatricians who specialize in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, guides parents and other caring adults on how to help kids from the age of 18 months to 18 years build the seven crucial “C’s.”

The Seven C’s – The Building Blocks of Resilience

Trained Rearing Successful Sons volunteers execute Dr. Ginsburg’s Seven C’s model through one-to-one mentoring, lectures, trips and other activities by focusing on the following:

  1. Competence: Build competence by noticing what the young men are doing right, creating opportunities for them to develop 21st century skills and abilities, and allowing them to recover themselves after a fall.
  2. Confidence: Foster confidence by preparing the young men to navigate the changing world, think outside the box, respond successfully to acts of discrimination and bias and recover from challenges.
  3. Connection: Develop strong connections between youth and other people, schools and communities. Offer them the security that allows them to stand on their own and develop creative solutions.
  4. Character: Provide them a clear sense of right and wrong, a sense of identity and spirituality and a commitment to integrity.
  5. Contribution: Create opportunities for boys and men to be recognized by our City for their talent, creativity and potential by engaging them in volunteer efforts. Help them to learn that contributing feels good and they may do so without shame.
  6. Coping: Develop coping strategies that will enable youth and children to resist perceived quick fixes such as drugs, overeating and violence.
  7. Control: Ability to understand privileges and respect through demonstrated responsibility.

The program’s design works because it:

  • Embraces a professional case management approach that orchestrates continuous progress in core development areas;
  • Creates a multiracial, economically diverse partnership to support participants’ success and connect them with ladders of opportunities;
  • Engages parents, family and community as inextricable and critical factors to the progress and success of the participants;
  • Addresses spirituality, mental health, healthy lifestyles, educational opportunities, career paths, familial ties, social agendas, financial development and literacy.

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John Gloucester House
1201 S. 23rd Street, Suite 101, Philadelphia, PA 19146


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