The Breakfast Group is a local Seattle organization that is the oldest (non-fraternity) all male African American organization in the Northwest United States. The Breakfast Group is comprised of a group of prominent African American leaders in Seattle, dedicated to mentoring and addressing the challenges of at-risk youth of color with a focus on black males.
The mission of the organization is to provide support and assistance for low-income youth of color in completing their secondary education and accessing higher education or employment after high school as they move forward with determination and integrity toward adulthood. The organization takes a well-rounded approach to mentoring, with members coming from a wide range of fields, including: education, business, public service, politics, law, medicine, entrepreneurship, science, and technology.
The Breakfast Group is very involved in improving education and holds memberships in a number of coalitions, including Excellent Schools Now, Our Schools Coalition, the Black Education Strategy Roundtable, and the Leaders of Communities of Color for Education Excellence.
As part of their dedication to supporting at-risk youth of color, the Breakfast Group annually hosts two great events, the Tie-One-On Luncheon and the All Achievers Awards Ceremony.
This year, the Tie-One-On Luncheon was held on April 10. It was the 24th event of its kind. At the luncheon, students are paired with a member of the business or professional community, and enjoy a lunch together while exchanging business cards to encourage future contact and mentoring.
Students are gifted with a necktie and dress shirt to help prepare them for their future endeavors, and the luncheon is concluded with a rite of passage where mentors teach their mentee to tie the necktie.
This year's luncheon celebrated about 80 young men from all the Seattle High Schools, of which some have successfully completed the Project M.I.S.T.E.R. Program. Dr. James B. Smith, Education Committee Chairman at the Breakfast Group, calls this year's luncheon "very successful": "We had about 280 people attend the luncheon and we received a lot of positive feedback. To be honest, the events just get better each year. The greatest testament to the success of the luncheon is the fact that attendees feel strongly enough about our work to contribute additional funds. Without a doubt, these contributions will help change the lives of the young adults we support."
Coming up this May, the Breakfast Group will host their 21st annual All Achievers Awards Ceremony. "This is an annual event where we recognize the male students who are doing the right thing, but not necessarily getting the recognition for it. By celebrating small victories, we hope to encourage these young men to continue to do the right thing," says Darryl Russell, Vice President of the Breakfast Group.
The approximately 80 young men who will be recognized in this year's ceremony have been nominated by their school counselor for demonstrating sound judgment and commendable progress.
Reflecting on the impact this ceremony has, Darryl Russell tells a story of a proud mother: "She was so proud of her son for his accomplishments and wanted to make the All Achievers Awards Ceremony special for him. She dressed herself and her family up in beautiful evening wear and surprised her son by renting a limousine to take them to and from the event. As they were leaving the event, her son approached me and thanked me and the organization for the recognition, and told me how pleased he was to have made his mother so proud. It is stories like these that make everything we do so worth it."
This year's ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 17, at the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Center at Rainier Beach High School.
Learn more about the Breakfast Group on their website at http://www.thebreakfastgroup.org/.