Check out our new video "A Brotherhood".
Videography/editing/production by Xavier Hill,
Written by Joee Starke (2021 BSI Graduate)
BSI members spent a Saturday being trained to work on Apple Apps, Garage Band, iMovie, and Keynote.
Carlos, one of our high school ambassadors, LOVES Apple products! Not only can he identify all Apple products, model specifications, and features, but he admires the executives who run this technology giant company. Carlos began reaching out to the top executives of Apple to share his love for the company, when one day, his email got noticed. Carlos shared with this executive about his involvement with The Black Suit Initiative and within a matter of weeks they contacted us and the journey began.
In August, Apple provided iPads for all BSI members, MacBooks for staff/volunteers, Apple TV and charging stations. They sent representatives from their corporate offices in Cupertino, California and Atlanta, GA to help celebrate the unveiling of this equipment.
Apple is also providing in-person training on their devices throughout the school year. Who knew a simple email would have been so rewarding?!
Youth Ambassadors and a recent high school grad spent 3 days in Washington, DC as the culmination of the school year. Members went on tours throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia, visited the African American History museum, and ate at the famous "Ben's Next Door" restaurant.
Justus Pool, 2021 BSI graduate, returned as the keynote speaker for this year's graduate luncheon. Pool is a student at North Carolina Central University and
serves on the honor student council, is a member of the dean’s list, a member of the African American Male
Initiative, served as Mister sophomore this previous academic year, eagle ambassador, member of the
NAACP, Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society, and is a Spring ’23 initiate of the Alpha Kappa
chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.
June concluded our “That’s Life” workshops with a visit to a new home development in High Point. Patrick and Brittany and the Radiant Realty- Keller Williams One Team facilitated a facilitating a Homebuyers 101 #GrabTheKeys event at Boulding Branch Estates in High Point.
Several BSI youth members wrote and were awarded a state grant which allowed BSI the opportunity to purchase drawstring bags. Inside of these bags were personal hygiene kits, snacks, underwear, and books. Sixty of these bags were delivered to 3 organizations that deal with children and teens in crisis and to homeless families with children. An additional 50 were shipped to Mississippi to help those hardest hit with recent tornadoes.
Being a teenager can be stressful, so we enlisted the assistance of The Activation Lab, LLC to host a yoga session for our middle & high school members. At the end of these sessions, members partook in a refreshing glass of seamoss lemonade.
Middle school students enjoyed a Saturday of fishing and outdoor ropes courses to help unwind during the last few weeks of school.
In an effort to bring reading content to life, we allowed members to participate in a fencing class to correlate with a novel they completed last school year called,, "Black Brother, Black Brother". This novel's theme was based around two brothers and their love for fencing.
The Greensboro Fencing Academy allowed our members to participate in a workshop which provided students with basic fencing techniques and equipment knowledge.
The NC A&T Theater Department and one of its directors, Miller Lucky, invited BSI members, moms, and mentors to see the flawlessly executed play, "Dreamgirls". Suprisingly, most of the members had already seen the movie adaptation with their moms and were very familiar with the content and songs.
Middle and high school members spent a Saturday creating craft items to deliver to elderly residents at Maple Grove. Members visited rooms delivering creative artwork, smiles and listening ears. Residents were eager to share their stories with these kind-hearted young men.
Charles Aris, international executive recruiting and staffing firm located in downtown Greensboro, hosted the middle and high school members of BSI to a morning filled with exploring unique career opportunities. Rebecca Conway, a Charles Aris Associate Practice Leader/DEI Manager, developed a 4 hour workshop allowing BSI members the opportunity to hear the personal stories and triumphs of men in working in the areas of engineering, law enforcement, law, technology, marketing, construction/cabling, and medicine.
Often when we travel, we’re asked, “What Is BSI?” Although every member has his own version of what BSI means to them, there’s not always enough time to go into a long discussion. They needed the perfect elevator pitch!
We enlisted the help of Jenn Hensel, founder of ElePitch. One of her specialties is helping individuals/companies develop effective elevator pitches. For 2 weeks she worked with BSI Youth Ambassadors in developing their pitch, which in turn they will take skills learned to share with other members.
Akeem White and Jamal Haizlip of The Activation Lab hosted a morning committed to healthy eating and healthy thinking for our middle school members. Jamal brought his signature sweet potato hash packed with delicious goodness and health benefits. Akeem fired up the blenders and our members helped create their own blueberry blast and tropical smoothies.
For 4-years, Granville Capital has been a supportive community partner.
Granville Capital specializes in providing managed portfolios of alternative investment strategies for high net worth individuals/families.
Some of their team members spent a Saturday morning providing wealth building techniques to our 8th-12th grade members to better prepare them for wealth building strategies after graduation.
During spring break, high school students and middle school ambassadors went on 2 college tours; NC State University and North Carolina Central University.
We were very blessed to have one of our BSI graduates and current NCCU student, Joee Starke, to conduct the tour of his campus.
Damien Mills, CEO of Mills Automotive Group, hosted BSI members at his Bentley/Rolls Royce Dealership in High Point. With 24 dealerships across the country, Mills is the largest Black-owned automotive group in the country and the only Black-owned Bentley/Rolls Royce dealership. His words of wisdom were life-changing.
In support of our financial literacy curriculum, Heather Lyons, from the Greensboro Municipal Federal Credit Union, facilitated two Credit/Financial Literacy workshops for our middle and high school members.
These very detailed workshops provided members with strategies on safely building credit, a breakdown of how credit is calculated, how to avoid collections, and ways to rebuild credit if credit mistakes are made.
Two bus loads of BSI members traveled to the Durham Performing Arts Center, in February, to see Black Violin, a Grammy nominated, hip hop duo from Florida, comprised of two classically trained string instrumentalists, Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste.
Back by popular demand, 2012 graduate, Chef Julian, hosted 2 virtual cooking demonstrations for middle and high school students. Middle school students made Shepherd's Pie and high school students, Chicken Milano. Generous donors allowed us the opportunity provide members with all the ingredients needed to cook each meal.
A big thank you is extended to our major program sponsors for 2021-2022. This year's expansion would not have been possible without you!
The Sparrow’s Nest , Inc. was developed to engage youth in leadership initiatives in an effort to prevent crime and drug activity and develop educational, artistic and character building skills to better prepare them for their transition to college or career.
In 2016, The Sparrow’s Nest, Inc., launched an all male program called “The Black Suit Initiative”.
This leadership and community engagement program allows young men in middle and high school, the opportunity to improve academic performance, explore their career interests and participate in positive team building exercises. The successful completion of program modules allows these young men the opportunity to earn their own full black suit at the completion of the first year.
Young men are selected to be in the program through an application and interview process during the month of June. Members can remain in the organization until they graduate from high school.
The logic behind the black suit is based upon a new study conducted by the psychology department at California State University. They discovered wearing a suit does change thought processes. The study found formal clothing improved confidence levels and changed the basic way respondents perceived the world. Wearing a suit encourages people to use abstract processing more readily than concrete processing.
Born in Lynchburg, VA, Evainna W. Ross has dedicated most of her life to helping youth secure better educational and economic opportunities through the development of her nonprofit organization, The Sparrow's Nest, Inc.
Upon graduating from North Carolina A&T State University with a B.S. in Public Relations in 1991, Ross began her journey working with youth under the leadership of the late civil rights pioneer, Rev. Prince E. Graves. Ross spent six years volunteering as the youth director of St. James Baptist Church increasing their youth programs' participation substantially.
Ross took what she learned at St. James Baptist Church and developed a community based model and launched The Sparrow's Nest, Inc. in Claremont Courts, a public housing community in Greensboro in October 2008. The Sparrow's Nest , Inc. was a mobile service which provided free programs on Saturdays such as ballroom dancing, sculpting, culinary arts and public speaking directly to youth in 4 of the largest public housing communities in Greensboro. Because of the growing popularity of these programs, Ross felt she wasn't making a lasting impact only seeing youth in these communities once a month. For that reason, in 2010, Ross, with a panel of educators and business owners, interviewed and selected 50 middle and high school youth to be members of a leadership program called The Chosen 50. The majority of these youth were selected from the communities she had served prior. These youth remained in the program until they graduated high school.
During their time in the program, these youth were empowered to make positive decisions for their lives as well as their communities. These youth have developed their own small businesses, developed political campaigns, created a stock portfolio and learned how to purchase their own homes and cars.
In 2014, Ross was recognized nationally by the Ascena Retail Group as an "everyday hero" who has dedicated her life to making the world a better place by empowering children in the areas of education, social support and self-esteem.
The Sparrow's Nest, Inc. has continued to evolve into a program which addresses the need of an ever-changing society. In 2016 they launched their newest division, The Black Suit Initiative, an all male leadership and community engagement program for middle and high school students.
Ross has been married to Kevin for 34 years and they have one daughter, Amariah.