Improve Your Tomorrow

Monthly Newsletter

February 2023

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New IYT Internship, Brotherhood Action Committee, Launches Across Three Regions

The Brotherhood Action Committee (BAC) officially launched on February 1st. We've enrolled over 75 Brothers from our Sacramento, Bay Area, and Central Valley programs. Each BAC session features seminar discussions about current events, lectures on core curriculum, and interactive lessons on policy and government. During the first BAC sessions, Brothers were provided an in-depth overview of the various roles and responsibilities within the federal government and learned how to get in contact with their federal representatives. Brothers engaged in lively and relevant discussions on the passing of Tyre Nichols, the recent China Spy Balloon, and President Biden's State of the Union Address. Brothers also participated in an activity called "Name that Public Official" where they were tested on their knowledge of well-known public figures who represent them. Brothers were highly engaged during lectures and discussions and proved that Young Men of Color can master the field of policy & advocacy in no time. 

Stay tuned as this BAC picks up steam to begin educational advocacy efforts.

Join CycleBar in Midtown for a special IYT Ride!

Cyclebar is hosting a ride for IYT in honor of Black History Month! Join them for a 45-minute indoor cycling class, shoes, towels, and good vibes provided by CylceBar! Bring comfortable workout clothes, socks, a water bottle, and $20 cash or check made out to Improve Your Tomorrow! 100% of the proceeds go to IYT.

Sign up here

Racial Equity Assessment Tool Begins Pilot at Monterey Trail HS

IYT's Policy & Advocacy team took part in the training alongside faculty and leadership at Monterey Trail High School.

The Racial Equity Assessment Tool was developed as part of the 1300 Campaign, a targeted systems change initiative geared toward removing systemic barriers to higher education and sending an additional 1,300 young men of color to Sacramento State University and UC Davis by 2025. IYT leads the 1300 Campaign along with the Sierra Health Foundation, and MBK Sacramento. The 1300 Campaign spent the last year developing the racial equity assessment tool, which looks at 12 dimensions to assess a school’s progress toward achieving racial equity. 

Here's a recap video of the training!

1300 Campaign leaders gathered in early February to attend the first Racial Equity Assessment Tool (REAT) training session at Monterey Trail High School in the Elk Grove Unified School District. Joining them were partners from staff and counselors from Monterey Trail High School (MTHS) as well as the MTHS Principal, Lara Ricks.

The training was led by the REAT’s developers at Innovation Bridge, a Sacramento-based education consulting firm. Participants were able to learn about the dimensions and key indicators for the REAT and the 1300 Campaign and were given a chance to ask in-depth questions about the development and data collection processes. 

After the training was complete, certified assessors conducted a daylong pilot of the REAT, breaking up into small groups and observing various classes, passing periods, student lunches, campus spaces, student-to-student interactions, and student-to-staff interactions. Following the completion of the assessment, the assessors held a debrief session that highlighted how the school was performing as well as ways in which the REAT could be improved to better serve students, schools, and districts. In the coming weeks, a summary report will be compiled by Innovation Bridge and shared with the 1300 Campaign in order to identify areas of strength and areas where additional support may be needed from the 1300 Campaign in order to further advance racial equity at Monterey Trail. 

We thank our partners at Innovation Bridge for working tirelessly in the development of the REAT, as well as our partners at MTHS for their dedication to improving racial equity and willingness to pilot this important program. Since the launch of the 1300 Campaign, MTHS has served as a valued partner in the effort to get 1,300 additional YMOC to Sacramento State and UC Davis. Stay tuned for more updates on REAT as our coalition and school partners work to broaden its reach. 

IYT Welcomes New Board Members from the Central Valley & Sacramento

"I've been part of IYT since there were only 17 of us! Over the past 10 years, I've been both a member and staff. Now, I look forward to working alongside the phenomenal group of changemakers on the IYT Board to continue moving the organization forward."

Oscar Cervantes,

Founder of REVAN Marketing Strategies

Janae Aptaker,

DEI Program Manager, University & Early Career Partnerships at Blue Shield California

I was inspired to join the Improve Your Tomorrow board by the mission which envisions a nation in which young men of color are overrepresented in higher education, underrepresented in the criminal justice system, and are leaders in their communities. As a mother of two incredible young, Black men, that mission statement is personal. As an IYT donor, partner, and parent, I have witnessed firsthand the life-changing impact this program has on the lives of so many. The passion and dedication of the IYT staff to be ‘the village’ to support the academic, social, and emotional success of young men of color in spaces where they are rarely encouraged or celebrated is unmatched. I could not be more proud to be joining the board of this incredible team of changemakers forging the path for all young men of color to get to college and have the support of brotherhood to thrive.

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of two new board members, Oscar Cervantes, and Janae Aptaker. Oscar's appointment represents a historic first, he's become the first IYT Brother to join our Board of Directors. Oscar joined IYT back in 2013 and has gone through the entire program, earning both a B.S. and M.S. at UC Davis. Oscar now runs his own successful and fast-growing marketing firm, which he founded in 2021. Oscar truly embodies our mission and vision of how we see each and every one of our members. Janae Aptaker, DEI Program Manager at Blue Shield California, will help steer and increase our impact in the Central Valley. Janae Aptaker is a people-centered strategic and collaborative leader with over 18 years of experience in public and non-profit social justice initiatives. She believes deeply in the power of education and mentorship to impact young people’s lives, as they did for her as a young person struggling to find her path beyond high school. In reflecting on her own outcomes, she has chosen to dedicate her work to cities with challenges and demographics similar to Stockton including her time serving as an educator and student advocate in BedStuy Brooklyn, Hayward, Pomona, and LA.

IYT Receives National NBA Grant To Support Community College Program

We are honored to be one of the 31 non-profits chosen from organizations across the country to be awarded a life-changing grant by the NBA Foundation! This grant marks our second year of support and partnership with them and allows us to propel our community college program to greater heights! California Community Colleges are the largest higher education network in the country and are made up largely of students of color (69%).

Earning an associate's degree remains an important indicator for improved life outcomes, the average CC student w. an AA sees over an $11K increase in earnings compared to an HS Degree. Yet, California's Community Colleges have seen about a 19% decline in enrollment since the start of the pandemic, with the most drastic declines being felt by young men of color. We know our young men of color have the potential and ambition to do great things and that's why we've invested in their success.

Our community college program, IYT CC, provides hundreds of young men of color within California's CC system with mentorship, internships, college and career development, tutoring, and more. While these services have made headway in closing the enrollment and graduation gap, it has always been difficult for us to find funding to support this crucial work. Today, that changes. Reflecting on the grant award, IYT CEO and Co-founder, Michael Lynch, said "the NBA Foundation is helping lead the way in a historically underfunded area of higher education that directly supports academic and life outcomes of young men of color. With a mental health crisis being felt acutely by young men of color, this support comes at a critical time and will help us sustain this life-changing work.

Read the full story here:

ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

IYT Members Invited to Inauguration of Gov.

Gavin Newsom

Our mentors and brothers received a special invite to the Governor's inauguration as a part of the California Volunteers program that Newsom created. We had reserved seating for over 20+ of our mentors and 5 of our brothers were invited to stand behind Newsom on stage. Governor Newsom even shouted out the California Volunteers' hard work in his Inaugural address.

IYT Mentor and Member Delivers Passionate Speech on the Power of Dual Enrollment

Check out this great speech by IYT U member, Kevin Rivera on the power of Dual Enrollment to close the college opportunity gap for our young men of color.

Kevin Spoke at a recent ceremony honoring the progress Assemblymember Chris Holden and the Campaign for College Opportunity have made in expanding Dual Enrollment. For those who may be unfamiliar, Dual Enrollment is program that allows high school students to take college courses at their local community colleges. This allows students to experience first-hand what college is like and earn credit which reduces their overall price of tuition. Some of these courses can even be taught at the high school, which helps keep the program accessible to all students.

New College Advising Page Offers Tools & Support For IYT Brothers

We've developed a new platform and resource to enhance our college advising program. Our new College Advising Corner is a landing page for our members to access critical information to help them stay on top of the college application process. This platform allows members to view key deadlines, access FAFSA documents, and search through top scholarship databases. Additionally, members can also request college advising sessions where they can get direct support from our college advisor on issues like financial aid and college essay writing. This platform builds on the weekly college advising workshops our program teams are already doing across our school sites and serves as a place for our members to go between sessions.

Check out the page here:

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