Follow Through is an extension of The Midnight Golf Program’s 30-week course in college readiness, empowerment and life skills. Conducted at Marygrove College in Detroit, its mentors support families to ensure that students thrive in college and don’t abandon their education in the face of financial challenges, cultural issues or academic concerns.
Michigan Nightlight: In your view, what makes your program innovative, effective or remarkable?
Midnight Golf Program Director David Gamlin
: What makes the program effective is the level of attention given to the science of teaching cohort designed youth-centered programming by a group of committed adults that serve as mentors. These ingredients, the location at Marygrove College, the PGA of America (and other training partners) and the generosity of those
There is a constant focus on how we engage our young people ó from before they even walk through our doors until we know they are safe at home.
that support the program financially are nothing short of remarkable.
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
The best lesson in the last year is that commitment to standards and excellence delivers outstanding rewards. We work to insure that every level of engagement with young people and every bit of information they receive is tailored to fit them. There is a constant focus on how we engage our young people — from before they even walk through our doors until we know they are safe at home. We are concerned with their success in school and the need for support if there are significant personal issues. It all pays significant dividends.
What was the hardest lesson learned in the past year?
There comes a time when you have to decide that the integrity of the program and the credibility of the young people can only be maintained by removing young people who refuse to accept the program behavior and engagement expectations and show no signs of changing.
What really differentiates this program?
There are many elements that differentiate the program but the peer-to-peer influence is one of the more significant elements that make it different. We activate opportunities for young people to influence each other through conversations, communication and news making. They listen to each other far more than they listen to even well-meaning adults.
With that understanding, we design opportunities for them to educate and influence each other toward success. Follow Through has about 400 students who are now attending one of 90 different colleges or universities around the U.S.
What are the keys to success for your program?
The keys to our success are derived from the values that influence our every decision. We ask ourselves these questions:
“Will this decision, at its end, empower young people? Not fill a need, but empower them? Are we doing our very best in this endeavor or choice? Is it excellent? Is this decision being made fully respecting the young people, adults and leadership? Is this decision driven by our concern for the needs of our young people? Are we prepared to take responsibility for this decision and are we fully committed to our intent?” And, “Is this an honest decision and not motivated by reasons inconsistent with our values?”
How does race or diversity affect the work of your program?
Serving Detroit youth renders a population that is nearly entirely people of color. There are also some unrelenting facts about
If young people can engage in internships that include professional and cultural mentoring, itís an investment worth making.
the academic and professional preparedness of Detroit youth. We address these challenges directly.
We help youth understand that global citizenry requires cultural competence beyond Detroit. We work with employers and help them understand that our youth need reasonable assistance when they are employed.
They are every bit as capable as anyone else is intellectually, but, in many cases, lack the communication and interpersonal skills to thrive in majority environments. That’s the logic behind Follow Through. If young people can engage in internships that include professional and cultural mentoring, it’s an investment worth making. If they are given the opportunity to sharpen their resume and cover letters, they can get past the resume shuffle in which many human resource professionals engage.
Energy from both sides helps young people understand the reality of the expectations of the academic and professional communities. And helping those institutions understand that if they offer a bit of consideration, together we can create a more inclusive learning and work environment – an environment that’s populated with capable and uniquely prepared young people.