Monday, October 12, 2020

New Year for Project ENRICH Begins With New Era and Continued Coronavirus Challenges

Bro. James Riley, Jr.
Two local leaders who are members of the Fraternity led the way as Gamma Pi Chapter opened Project ENRICH for the 2020-21 academic year.  Just like when the program last got together for its closing ceremony in June, the opening program for this school year began online via videoconferencing due to the coronavirus.

Brothers Rushern Baker, who served as the former Prince George’s County Executive and was a Democratic candidate for Maryland Governor during the 2018 campaign, along with Prince George's County State Del. Nick Charles, set the tone for the year with informative and interesting talks about the importance of civics.

“The students out of this program have gone on to do some terrific things,” said Baker, who gave the opening program key remarks. “We need good young people to follow in our footsteps.” He challenged young people to think about public service and civic engagement with particular focus on local and state office. Bro. Baker also evoked the name of Gamma Pi Chapter’s Bro. Ulysses Currie, who became the highest ranking African American legislator in Maryland as a State Senator and who entered Omega Chapter in 2019 after a long illness. Hoping ti stir interest in the  students, Bro. Del. Charles shared his story of how he began working in his neighborhood homeowner's association at a very young age looking to make a difference, turning that into the desire to serve in an elected capacity. The theme of the opening program was civics.

In addition to hearing from Bro. Baker and Bro. Charles, Project ENRICH students heard from Gamma Pi Basileus Steven Walls, who encouraged them to remain focused on their success despite the unsettling events in the world.

Bro. Rushern Baker
The students also received a briefing from new director Bro. James Riley, Jr. about what the program’s curriculum would be for the year. The monthly focus topics for the year are: Civics (October), Critical Thinking (November), College Timelines and Planning (December), Financial Resources and Debt Planning (January), Entrepreneurship and Interviewing (February),  Mental Health (March), Essay Presentation (April) and Seniors Program (May).

During the two-hour session, students were also introduced to Bro. William “Bill” Reese, who for the second year in a row will lead the Young Men’s Professional Etiquette initiative called MPSU (Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift). Mrs. Kaila Randolph, a training official for the federal government, will lead the second-year Young Ladies Professional Etiquette started last year by Ms. Rita Reese.  Team leads this year are Bros. Andrew Clarke and Anthony Smith (freshmen); Bros. Jason Crump and Marlin Godfrey (sophomores); Bros. James Riley and Andrew Gibson (juniors) and Bro. John Howard has the graduating seniors. Bro. Gibson was a Project ENRICH student in the late 1990s while in high school.

Del. Nick Charles
Missing through it all was Bro. Willie Hines, the longtime Project ENRICH director who turned the reins over to Bro. Riley this summer after nearly 10 years at the helm. Bro. Hines, who introduced a lot of innovations to Project ENRICH including the parents’ club and the emphasis on the “30-second elevator speech” and public speaking, is taking a much-deserved break to consider some other education-associated projects for the chapter and Fraternity. Bro. Roland Byrd founded the program for Gamma Pi more than three decades ago.

Kaila Randolph
Through the history of Project ENRICH, Gamma Pi Chapter has helped hundreds and perhaps thousands of students prepare for and succeed in college. The program sponsors a monthly session on Saturday that is normally held on the campus of Bowie State University, which is designed to expose the students to the college environment. During these sessions, students and participating parents learn bout scholarship opportunities, the college application process, selecting a college selecting a major and preparing for campus life. This is done over a four-year period with students entering the program in the ninth grade and continuing through graduation as 12th graders.