The MVP Foundation creates programming and awareness that benefit Tulsa inner-city youth, with special emphasis on Black males living in single mother households.
By far the most severe crisis within the African-American community — both throughout the Nation and more particularly in Oklahoma — is the disaster regarding young Black males and the educational system and subsequent school-to-prison pipeline.
According to The Schott Foundation for Public Education, the 2011-2012 high school graduation rate of Black males in Oklahoma was an appallingly low 64%. Even more alarming is the quality of education most likely attained by those Black male graduates. In 2009, for example, only 12% of Oklahoma Black male eighth graders were reading at or above a level of proficiency.
By projection, therefore, only 6% of Oklahoma Black male students graduated from high school in 2007-2008 knowing how to read proficiently. Worse, only 1-2% of Black males who graduated from Tulsa Public Schools were college ready!
These figures alone sound a clarion call that young Black males in Oklahoma are in grave trouble. They are in trouble not only because of their lack of education, but what that lack of education means for the quality of their lives, the lives of their future families, and the well-being of our society in general.
Instead of preparing our young Black men for the successful college experiences that are the preconditions to economically gainful and productive occupations, the current educational system continues to prime the school-to-prison pipeline with young Black men, together with its devastating effect on the economic, emotional and physical well-being of Black families.
Lacking the presence of a strong, positive Black male in their lives, even as fifth graders these young Black men show signs of succumbing to the pressures of street culture, violence, drug use, and misogyny. They are literally dying physically and emotionally every day from lack of love and resources.
Most of these Young Black Men have no real sense of who they are, what good they are capable of, and the tremendous obligation they have to maximize their every opportunity.
Many of these young men have never had an opportunity to learn about their unique history, accomplishments, and potential from strong Black male role models who are capable of teaching and guiding them by example and shared discourse.
This is why so many YBM’s become distraught, angry and empty young men who have lost hope in self-improvement or social mobility by acquiring an education. Instead, they resort to criminal behavior or unrealistic belief in professional athletics.
As bad as the facts cited are and no matter how bleak the current situation is, we strongly agree with our colleague and friend, Susan L. Taylor, CEO and Founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence magazine. Susan writes:
“Reclaiming the lives of our children is a battle we can win. With the quality of their lives as the guiding factor in our choices—personal, political, financial and spiritually—we can create what is needed to move these soul-crushing statistics in the opposite direction.”
Reclaiming the lives of our children is a battle we can win. Will you help?
The MVP Foundation creates programming and awareness that benefit inner-city youth, with special emphasis on African-American males.
As a tax-deductible fund through the Tulsa Community Foundation, since 2009 the MVP Foundation has served more than 1000 young people.
Passionately create and promote educational, social, and economic opportunities that help inner-city youth:
- Become aware of the opportunities and resources available.
- Understand how to access the opportunities and resources for their benefit.
- Understand why the resources and opportunities available must be maximized.
Founders & Staff
Damario Solomon-Simmons, M.Ed., Esq.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, M.Ed., Esq., grew up in a low-income single-parent household, graduated at the bottom of his high school his class, and dropped out of college after one year to “find himself.” Co-founder of the MVP Foundation, Damario Solomon-Simmons is a community-oriented lawyer, diversity professional, and educator with almost two decades of verifiable success as an adviser, consultant, and advocate. He is the Founder and serves as the managing partner of SolomonSimmonsSharrock, Legislative Liaison for Oklahoma Policy Institute, and Director of the Pipeline + Program, Oklahoma’s largest legal diversity program.
He is a University of Oklahoma (OU) football letterman and OU’s first African-American “Most Outstanding Law Graduate.” Since 2005, Damario has represented clients in federal, state, and tribal courts, business transactions, and legislative and community relations matters. Recognized as a “40 Under 40” resident by Oklahoma Magazine in 2007 and Tulsa Business Journal in 2012, Damario is passionate about creating environments and resources that promote fair and sustained opportunities for the neediest of society.
Mia Fleming is an award-winning television personality with over fifteen years experience writing, producing, reporting, hosting, and anchoring News and Entertainment related shows.
Mia has always felt a connection to helping those in need, and believes that “You must be the change you desire to see in the world.” So, in addition to co-founding the MVP Foundation, she is the founder of Mia’s Million Reasons Why™ which is a charity related TV series and movement. Learn more at miafleming.com.
Ready to be part of the solution?
Your donation of any amount is welcome and will bring positive, lasting change to the lives of young men in Tulsa.
Join our mentorship program and share your life skills with young men who have no one else to look up to.
As a business owner or organizational leader, show the community you care by sponsoring the MVPs.