An Overview of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Birth of the M.A.L.E.S. Mentoring Program of New Jersey

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest African-American Greek-Lettered Fraternities. Founded in 1906 at Cornell University, Alpha Phi Alpha has remained at the forefront of civic and human affairs in the African-American community since its inception. Notable members include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, John Hope Franklin, Adam Clayton Powell, and Cornel West, among countless others.

In 2004, as the international fraternity neared its centennial anniversary celebration, central New Jersey Alpha Phi Alpha members Dr. Lennox H. Small and Ainsley A. Reynolds led an aggressive recruitment effort towards fraternity members to be involved in a new and exciting initiative. While the fraternity usually awards over $25,000 in scholarship awards to local high school seniors, there was and still remains a pressing need to be more “hands on” in its community youth outreach programs. While the mystique of financial benefactor was certainly an iconic position the fraternity has held in Piscataway and other neighboring districts over the last several years, the more interactive role of mentoring young men would address some of the core values and tenets that the fraternity has always embraced.

Thus, the M.A.L.E.S (Mentoring and Leadership Equals Success) Program made its debut at Piscataway High School on December 3, 2004. The group consisted of forty sixth to twelfth grade boys who demonstrated signs of academic success and/or potential. The primary aim of the program was and is to promote intellectual and leadership skills amongst young men. The program is a corollary of Alpha Phi Alpha's national “Go to High School, Go to College” youth development initiative. The program is conducted primarily through the volunteerism of Alpha Phi Alpha members, and also receives support from many volunteers from other fraternities, sororities, and the surrounding communities. The volunteer mentors of the program range from undergraduates to retirees, and represent diverse academic and professional backgrounds, including law, medicine, education, business, government, and many others.

The program is now entering its seventh year in operation and is now based at Somerset Intermediate School in North Plainfield, NJ under the guidance and leadership of the school's principal, Alpha Phi Alpha member Reginald Sainte-Rose. During the last six years, the students have participated in a variety of academic and leadership programs, including: the Leadership Development Institute at Saint John’s University, the Student for a Day program at Ramapo College, the W.E. B. Dubois Institute at Princeton University, and the Regional Development Leadership Institute at Rutgers University, to name a few. In addition, during the various workshops that are conducted, students are constantly exposed to guest speakers from various professional experiences.

The ultimate aim of the M.A.L.E.S. effort is to see young people succeed personally, academically, and professionally. So far, M.A.L.E.S. alumni have done just that, graduating from local New Jersey high schools and attended some of the country's top colleges and universities, including: Stanford, NYU, Maryland, Howard, and Rutgers, to name a few.

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