The Angel City Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, an international service organization, launched its 36th Achiever Program in December 2016 with its annual Achiever Night festivities. Each year since 1982, over 30 African American males graduating from high schools throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas participate in a program that offers them training in etiquette, self-esteem, peer pressure, health, money management and many other topics. In this current political climate where racial and gender inequality is in the headlines, it is important to highlight a program that recognized that “Black Lives Matter” 36 years ago.
The Achiever Program begins each year in the fall when the Achievers apply and are selected to participate in the program. Achiever Night is a celebration of the high school seniors that were selected to participate in the current year’s program, as well as an acknowledgement of the program’s storied history. The event is both an introduction of the incoming class and opportunity for them to fellowship with Alumni Achievers from previous years that share their fond memories and speak of the positive effects the program has had on their lives.
“I believe this Achiever Program is really important because it gives young black males who are in the Greater Los Angeles Area a chance to realize that they are not necessarily alone in their struggles,” said Maxie Alexander (Alumni, Achiever Class of 2016). “It is empowering to be able to come into a group to openly and honestly discuss your feelings about those situations.”
Alumni achievers have gone on to attend colleges and universities all over the world, including Harvard, Morehouse, Oxford, and UCLA. The Achiever Program has become family tradition. Among the Alumni, there are brothers, cousins, and in recent years, fathers and sons. Alumni Achievers and their families realize the value of this program and are its strongest supporters.
Achievers learn skills that prepare them for the challenges of being away from home – many for the first time – as they go off to attend colleges and universities. What is especially unique is the built-in support system. Ryan Browning (Alumni Achiever, Class of 2016) stated, “I wanted to be a part of this program. It is a program where like minded people get to discuss what it means to be a black male growing up in America. This program helped prepare me to deal with being a black person relocating from a private school in Los Angeles to a college setting in Nashville.”
Over the next several months, the 2017 Class of Achievers will meet regularly and participate in the curriculum of the program that touches on the various facets The Links, Incorporated addresses. They also receive life-skills coaching by the renowned Tony McGee.
“The focus is to prepare these young men for the challenges of life, with an emphasis on contributing to society and their community,” said Link Cheryl Walton, President, Angel City Chapter.” We are proud of the 1,238 young men who have successfully completed the program and continue to commit to their lifelong goals.”