How Jovani’s Story Inspires Thousands of Teens

Jovani Hernandez joined our writing program last year because he knew his stories, once published in YCteen magazine, would inspire thousands of teens.
 
He was struggling with the death of his mother and the unexpected reappearance of an absent father. He knew that many teens face similar challenges. And he knew his readers would be heartened by seeing how someone “just like them” found the strength to cope with adversity. 
 
Jovani worked with Holly St. Lifer, a skilled and caring instructor. Over months of hard work, he improved his skills and wrote stories that grabbed the attention of even reluctant readers.
 
Holly also coached him while he applied to college, wrote a recommendation, and helped him assemble a strong writing portfolio. Jovani is now at Franklin and Marshall College on a full scholarship.
 
The support of our donors helped Jovani connect with thousands of readers when we published his stories in YCteen magazine. 
 
Hundreds of educators used it to improve the literacy skills of more than 30,000 teens. And they used YCteen stories to show teens how their peers responded constructively to life’s challenges. Writers became inspirational role models for readers facing issues described in the stories. 
 
But that is just the beginning of Jovani’s influence on his peers. This fall we republished two of Jovani’s stories in Real Men, our new curriculum on positive masculinity. 
 
Real Men consists of an anthology of 21 stories and a 326-page lesson guide. We train staff to implement the program with young men in schools, afterschool programs, and juvenile justice settings.
 
They are using youth voices like Jovani’s to help young men develop healthier masculine identities.
 
This new look at masculinity will help them manage strong emotions, ask for and offer help, and build respectful relationships. These are key social and emotional learning competencies that extensive research links to high school graduation, college completion, and career success.
 
We provide educators with the teaching strategies and materials they need to change young people’s lives. Our supporters help us train more than 400 educators to use Real Men and our other curricula. They will help 10,000 teens strengthen their skills and make positive decisions about their lives. Here’s what one of those educators said about one of our programs:
 
“We LOVE it! I was skeptical that kids in our summer program would be willing to read, but they’re captivated by the stories. The lessons really helped teens open up and support each other.”
 —Monique Jarvis, After School Dir., Learning Through Expanded Arts
 
Make a donation to support our teen writers and the educators who use their stories to improve the lives of thousands of young people. 
 
Real Men is the companion to our girls’ empowerment program, Real As Me, which was named the year’s best social and emotional learning curriculum by the Association of American Publishers in June 2017.  
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