The Breakfast Group adopted The Project M.I.S.T.E.R. Program™ (Male Involvement & Service To Encourage Responsibility) 30 years ago to provide intervention opportunities between successful African American adult males and “at risk” African American youth. The program was established in collaboration with Medina Children’s Services (now Amara) during its first 14 years. The Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ Program is school-based and operates in Garfield, Franklin, Cleveland, Rainier Beach, and South Lake High Schools. A Breakfast Group sponsored instructor is provided at each school sites to teach daily classes based on a curriculum entitled “Life Skills—Education, Employment, Personal Responsibility”, which was developed by The Breakfast Group.
The Approach. Encouragement.
Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ is funded by a grant from the City of Seattle and is centered upon the idea that education is the cornerstone of success. We believe that with equitable educational opportunities, a person’s life circumstances can be impacted substantially. We have witnessed this success through our Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ graduates. Some continue onto four-year Universities, some to vocational and technical schools, others to local community colleges. Whatever their school of choice, The Breakfast Group is stands by the students as a pillar of support.
Students are held to high standards and expected to be present and to actively participate in the course activities and curriculum. At the end of the year, and upon completion of the Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ course, students are invited to attend the annual Tie-One-On Luncheon.
High schools served: Franklin, Garfield, Rainier Beach, Cleveland, and South Lake Alternative High School
Breakfast Group members volunteer to conduct sessions once a week during the school year. Members are involved in providing guidance and sharing personal experiences as an example and motivational presence to the youth in the program.
A set curriculum is presented, with a wide range of subjects that include:
- Goal Setting
- Employment Preparation
- Employment Application Completion
- Interviewing Techniques
- Resume Writing
- Responsibilities of Fatherhood
- Family/Financial Planning
- Substance Abuse
- Health Education
- Impacts of Poor Choices
- Education Planning
- The Trades
In addition to Breakfast Group members, presenters have included representatives from major companies and organizations such as: Safeco, Costco, Nordstrom, McDonalds, Macy’s, Safeway, King County Sheriffs, the Seattle Downtown Association, and Turner Construction Company. Each year, several Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ participants obtain opportunities for higher education and internships through this network.
In the 2011-12, 39 students completed the PM program at Franklin and South Lake high schools. 36 (92.5%) of these students either graduated or completed the semester successfully, with plans to return in the fall.
- Student made adequate progress towards the completion of a high school diploma, as evidenced by the completion of at least 5 credits, or student graduated from high school. A less desirable, yet positive outcome would be the attainment of a GED, a sub-goal to be tracked separately. Without intervention, 25%. Goal: 90% Actual: 85%
- Student did not drop out of school. A lower percentage is validation of success. 66% probability/4 yrs = 16.5% per school-year risk of dropping out Goal: Under 5% per year
- Student was not incarcerated at the end of the program. Without intervention 82% chance of recidivism Goal: Under 7% recidivism of previously incarcerated students Actual: 10%
- Student did not advance his status in the criminal justice system, i.e., non-involved to involved, probation to incarceration, etc. Goal: 93% of students who have been arrested for a crime will not be rearrested during high school years. Actual: 85%
- Student completed a secondary education plan, and the necessary measures to enroll in one of the following after graduation: college, an apprenticeship program, a job training program, or employment. Goal: 93% Completion Actual: 90%
The most tangible evidence of the success of Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ is the percentage of students who not only fail to re-offend, as evidenced by arrest and incarceration, but also stay in school, and graduate. Studies have shown that high school graduation is the number one predictor of future criminal behavior in males of color in our area.
According to a 2007 Puget Sound Educational Service District study:
“Almost 3,200 high school students dropped out of King County schools in 2004-05. Approximately 25% of all youth and 45% of African-American, Native American and Latino boys fail to finish high school.”
These statistics have worsened since this study, 9 years ago.
The study goes on to state further consequences of dropping out. “60% of the youth in King County juvenile detention are dropouts or lack sufficient credits to graduate. 70% of adult prisoners in the United States are high school dropouts.”
Project MISTER Ancillary Programs
In addition to the Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ classes, The Breakfast Group offers two signature programs to encourage students to stay on track with their education and life goals. One is our Tie-One-On Luncheon, a rite of passage experience that provides networking opportunities for students of color and other at-risk youth. Co-sponsored by Turner Construction and held at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, over 100 community leaders and corporate representatives commit to helping 75 to 90 high school students to navigate the job market and prepare for college. As part of the ceremony students receive a necktie, which is designed by participants in the Project M.I.S.T.E.R. Program™. Students are encouraged to meet as many mentors as possible, and to get business cards and maintain contact for leads on jobs and other assistance.
Another signature program is our All Achievers Awards/Scholarship Program, which each year awards scholarships to African-American youth and others at risk who have overcome obstacles and excelled at school and in the community. More than 75 students from the Seattle Public High Schools are recognized each year and more than 20 scholarships are awarded annually to 4-year and 2-year colleges, including technical or trade schools. Scholarships are awarded to graduating Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ students as well as students from other high school campuses in Seattle. Scholarships range from $250 for books to over $4,000 for multi-year awards.
Featured Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ alumni return each year as college students, college grads, or business owners to mentor and testify to both M.I.S.T.E.R.™ participants and supporters of the power of M.I.S.T.E.R.™ path to success.
Special Events with Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ Students and Breakfast Group members include:
- Our Tie Design Contest & Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ Community Ties Marketing Program
- Our Annual Seattle University Basketball Practice & Pizza with Players
- Our Annual University of Washington Basketball Practice & Pizza with Local Community Kids
- Our Annual University of Washington Husky Football Lunch & Practice with Players
In 2014, and during the 2014-15 academic year, we expanded Project M.I.S.T.E.R.™ to include two additional program Projects. The innovations on our legacy Project are known as:
In the fall of 2013, we began development of the wrap around advocacy component of our legacy program which was completed in 2014. It is known as The Breakfast Group's: