Our speaker on May 7 was Marcus Johnson, Executive Director of Bankhead Boys Association. Marcus began as Bankhead’s Executive Director in the fall of 2019, but he says because of the impacts of Covid, he feels as though he is still very new to the position. Marcus possesses a strong history in nonprofit leadership. Originally a native of the Southside of Chicago, Marcus has served various nonprofit organizations in Chicago, Boston, and now Atlanta. During his service in Boston, Marcus served as an AmeriCorps VISTA where he focused on community and corporate engagement, along with training and fundraising.
Marcus then introduced AWER to the important work currently being done by the Bankhead Boys Association. Bankhead Boys Association formed in 1990 in the former Bankhead Courts Housing Development. The association works to break the cycle of poverty in order to lead towards more productive citizens. To accomplish this goal, the association focuses on three primary engagement strategies – Scouting, mentoring, and social services. Bankhead serves the North and Southwest Atlanta neighborhoods. Of those youth involved in the program, Marcus stated that 43 percent of the families live below the poverty level, 60 percent of the youth come from single-parent households, and 22 percent of the youth are college or career ready by the time they gradate high school.
Focusing first on Scouting, Marcus discussed that in traditional scout programs dens and troops typically have very low minority participation. In Bankhead, they have reversed this trend and their scouting programs consists primarily of minority populations. To help improve the participation in these programs, the Bankhead Scouting program is fully funded.
Next, Marcus focused on Bankhead’s workplace mentoring programs. These programs first started in 1994. For any youth involved in the Boys Association they are provided a mentor. Each mentor works at one of the association’s corporate sponsors. These individuals provide one-on-one mentoring in a workplace setting.
Lastly, Marcus discussed Bankhead’s social services programs. In this facet of Bankhead’s work, the organization works with youth to provide educational, employment, and health assistance. Throughout these programs, Marcus described the importance of working closely with the youth’s parents to build a strong collaborative partnership.
Marcus then focused on his vision for Bankhead Boys Association as it continues to serve Atlanta’s youth. Currently the association serves approximately 50 boys and Marcus would like to continue to grow youth participation. In the increased participation, Marcus would like to expand the programs offered such as computer education, cooking classes, and other life skills to further the growth and development of the youth involved. The Bankhead Boys Association is always looking for additional financial support or commitments of volunteers for direct service. If you are interested in serving youth through the work of Bankhead Boys Association, please contact Marcus Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can discover more about Bankhead Boys Association by visiting their website at www.bankheadboys.org.