Tonight I spoke before 100 Black Men of Orlando, and while they say I inspired them, the reality is that they inspired me as well. More than 1,000 local leaders from throughout Orlando, Florida attended the annual 100 Black Men of Orlando Scholarship Dinner tonight in the main ballroom of the Rosen Centre Hotel, owned by friend Harris Rosen.
The formal part of the program was the presentation of 30 plus scholarships to young African-American male and female achievers from Jones High School in Orlando, but it was the backstory that so inspired me. It will inspire you too.
For a very long time, Jones High School was ranked one of the worst in the state. That and the fact that it was a historically significant African-American high school was enough to inspire 100 Black Men of Orlando to take action. And so, they adopted the school, dedicating both resources and time to turning the school around. The result, the Washington Post recently reported that of all schools nationwide, Jones High School ranked amongst the top 9% of all schools for achievement.
In the state of Florida, of more than 4,200 public schools there, Jones High School ranked amongst the top 100! All because a group of positive Black men, decided to commit themselves to turning around a Black public school. It wasn’t rocket science, it was just leadership.
Making this story even more inspiring, the group has raised more than $1.1 million in scholarships for local students over more than a dozen years. They have stuck with these young people from beginning to end, and the results are nothing short of breathtaking. Young people — who have decided to take their life back!
A special thank you to Ron Rogers, president of 100 Black Men of Orlando, 100 Black Men members Tommy Dortch and Vice Admiral David Brewer, an honorary member of 5 Million Kids, tied to Project 5117, and special acknowledgement to a HOPE Partner attending tonight, Mr. David Fuller, the new president of the SunTrust Banks Foundation, who is also supporting the group at Jones High School. SunTrust has sponsored a HOPE Inside Orlando @ SunTrust Banks.
Together, we can make a difference.
John Hope Bryant