College Bound Dorchester’s annual “We Are Uncornered” gala raised nearly $400,000 last week to support its Boston Uncornered initiative, which empowers formerly gang involved youth to go to college. More than 300 people attended the gala on Wed., May 9 at the State Room in Boston.
For 14 years, the non-profit has used education as a means to transform lives and develop positive leaders who drive neighborhood change from within. This year, student speaker Paul Burns spoke about his journey from incarceration to the classroom. Burns is currently enrolled at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology working towards his H/VAC certificate.
“The money I get from Boston Uncornered makes it easier for me to do better and keeps me from thinking of negative ways to make ends meet,” says Burns. “College Bound Dorchester pushed me to push myself. I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t living it.”
College Bound Dorchester Founder & CEO Mark Culliton based the Boston Uncornered initiative on the idea that the intelligence and charisma of Core Influencers gives them the potential to become positive role models within their communities. By earning a degree and showing their neighborhood peers that there is another, better way to earn an honest living, these formerly disengaged youth can become positive influencers who encourage others to clean up their acts, go back to school, and build the skills to earn a living wage. In doing so, they will help lower prison recidivism, reduce gang violence and diminish (and ultimately end) systemic generational urban poverty.
“I am thrilled with the support we have received from the community surrounding the Uncornered Movement,” stated Culliton. “People are starting to realize that it is the Core Influencers, and only the Core Influencers, who are the revolutionaries that can and will change the world. The financial support that we received at this year’s gala is proof that people understand what we are trying to do at College Bound Dorchester.”
College Readiness Advisor, Ismail Abdurrashid, who shares a story similar to so many of the students he now mentors, echoed Culliton’s point, “This endeavor is revolutionary. We must begin to see the problems of the inner cities as our problems and work collectively to correct them.”
Over the next three years, College Bound Dorchester will engage more than 500 Core Influencers from six of Boston’s 14 “hotspots”, of violence. In Boston, 3,500 gang members (only one percent of the youth population) are responsible for 74 percent of all shootings in the city on only five percent of the city’s street corners. The organization is working with researchers from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University to evaluate the program with the goal of making it a national model.