Every Tuesday as part of our Community Changers series, we shine a light on people and organizations making a positive impact in our community. 

This week, we caught up with a group that is changing the landscape of public education.

“Two percent of educators are black males. We have true problems in our community sometimes in terms of school to prison pipeline. We are that deterrent for that as black male educators,” Grant Wells said

Grant Wells teaches fifth grade English and Language Arts at Promise Academy, Spring Hill campus. Mr. Wells is a fellow of the Man Up Teacher Fellowship Organization. They help men of color receive their teaching certification and master’s degree in education.

Dr. Patrick Washington is the founder and executive director. He knows you can’t underestimate the power of a visual. That is exactly why he created Man Up.  

“When students of color, especially boys of color have, if they have a teacher of color it decreases the likelihood of dropping out by 32%,” Dr. Washington said. “If our students finish high school or go to college, they’re less likely to engage in some of those behaviors that, unfortunately, we’ve seen in our city the past few weeks.”

Man Up offers two lanes to certification and licensure. Graduate route and new this year, undergraduate. Best of all, tuition is free.

“We’re removing the financial barrier that tends to hinder men of all races and ethnicities from considering teaching as an option,” Dr. Washington said.

For Mr. Wells, being part of Man Up is special.

“You get to be around individuals who look just like you. doing the same thing you’re doing. Iron sharpens iron. You get to grow and build upon each other,” Mr. Wells said.

Taking time to create bonds with each student is essential.

“Turn them into intrinsically motivated students. Showing them that knowledge can be something that not only is the key to success. The smarter you are the more money you make. But it’s also cool to be smart. It’s cool to know things,” Mr. Wells said.

That is why our anonymous donor wanted to give $1,000 to Man Up Teacher Fellowship because learning from someone who looks like you matters.

If you would like to learn more about Man Up Teacher Fellowship, visit here.

If you know an organization making a positive impact in our community, nominate them here.