Racial Justice Rites of Passage Program Application
The Stono Institute for Freedom, Justice and Security (SIFJS) is the first human rights institution and think tank founded by African-Americans aimed at combating existential threats—domestic and international—to Black life and liberty including but not limited to systematic and structural racial discrimination, violent extremist vigilantism and deadly police violence and its antecedents. Our core focus areas include Black Youth, education, empowerment and advocacy. The SIFJS’ core belief is that every living being is divinely made and invaluable. We believe in the United Nations Charter’s reaffirmation in the “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women” and in the promotion of “social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”
The Racial Justice Rites of Passage Program forms a part of our Black Citizenship Initiative and aims to cultivate a new generation of Black patriots and social change leaders by introducing them to the rich African and African-American traditions of racial and social justice, self-reliance, entrepreneurship and community empowerment. We will inspire, develop and empower Black male youth to become transformative leaders.
The Racial Justice Rites of Passage Program is a one-year program offered annually (February 14 through December 19) that meets every other Sunday from 1pm-5pm EST. It is designed for Black male youth ages 13-18 years old from local communities in Orlando and beyond. It is intellectually and pragmatically anchored in African-American and African political, historical, economic, social and cultures mores and traditions, and focuses on issues from Hip Hop culture, racial justice and police brutality to social relationships, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Each session will revolve around pre-assigned reading or other digital learning content, feature at least one speaker and incorporate group dialogue and learning.
The program emphasizes face-to-face and virtual lectures, seminars, workshops, field-trips and individual and group mentoring. Stono Institute staff and volunteers including professional athletes, judges, lawyers, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, professors, clergy, psychologists, mental health care professionals, and community activists. Twenty-five to fifty youth will be selected to participate in the program, and we envisage that many more will partake in our virtual racial justice programs.
The program outline is centered around the following themes:
- Black history, culture and tradition anchors the program;
- Citizenship and patriotism: Black leadership training;
- De-escalation: Conflict prevention with law enforcement;
- Self-defense: Physical and verbal;
- Financial literacy: Basic financial management;
- Entrepreneurship: Business ownership;
- Racial justice advocacy: Community organization;
- College and career readiness: Professionalism.