“It gives me the opportunity to actually succeed in life," one recipient said of the program.
Curby Sneed didn’t quite know what was going to happen to him.
“When certain situations happen, it pushes my buttons and my blood starts to boil and I just snap,” the high school senior says.
His self-esteem was low and he came very close to getting into altercations with his instructors – a move that could have led to real trouble.
“When I would end up getting upset, I would end up having conflicts with my teachers,” Sneed says.
The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project has helped steer Curby and other youngsters in a different direction. The dropout prevention intervention program focuses on minority young boys who are at risk of leaving school or choosing a life of crime, in 82 Miami-Dade public schools.
“It gives me the opportunity to actually succeed in life and be someone in life,” Sneed said. That is not always easy in the neighborhoods where Sneed, who lives in Overtown, and other students in 5000 Role Models come from – a concern for his parents and State Senator Dr. Frederica S. Wilson.
She founded the program, which matches students with business and civic leaders to inspire them.
At a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast, 62 students, including Sneed, were given college scholarships by 5000 Role Models to pay for their education next year.
“We’ve sent thousands to college and spent over $10 million on scholarships,” said Wilson, who founded the program while on the Miami-Dade County School Board. “You can imagine how wonderful I feel and I’m sure that Dr. King can think of no other way that he would want us to remember his holiday than by helping these young men.”
Sneed said his dad got him out of the neighborhood by sending him to Coral Park High School, where he has excelled on the football field and kept up his grades. His next stop: the classroom and football field at Florida International University.