Birmingham native heads non-profit to help change pattern of vio - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Birmingham native heads non-profit to help change pattern of violence

Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

For several years Marcus Carson focused on his career as a financial analyst but thoughts of his hometown were never far away.

"I grew up in Birmingham in the neighborhood of Titusville. I spent all my time running the streets doing what typical young men do," Carson recaled. "But one thing I knew set me apart was a father in the household every day."

Carson remembers just one other friend having the same. For Carson, it made a huge difference.

He graduated high school, went on to get his MBA, moved away to work in corporate America. He didn't think he'd return until he took a closer look at the young men growing up back in the Magic City.

"I realized I had the vision to put together the missing pieces these young men didn't have in their lives; positive male influences, and high expectations in academic performances," Carson said.

So in 2005, Carson founded a non-profit called Growing Kings.

Today, the program is in seven Birmingham schools. Participants start in 4th grade and are tracked through high school.

They meet once a week. And aside from academics, there's focus on also behavior, character development student attendance.

Carson said they do that in ways that are age appropriate and culturally relevant. An example: instead of giving 4th graders Dr. Seuss books, participants get a subscription to Sports Illustrated For Kids instead.

"So every month they'll get a new magazine with posters and cards in things they already have an interest in," Carson said. "So it's not that we're trying to tell them what to read. We just want them to read."

There's other activities too: like learning how to change a flat tire, check oil, participating in mock job interviews, dining etiquette classes, field trips and more.

Carson said when he sees violence in Birmingham, like the eight homicides in the last week, and sees those involved look like his participants, it forces him to stay the course..and know he's making a difference.

"We know these students are going to position themselves to not fall by the wayside. They'll be part of eradicating these stereotypes," Carson says.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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