5000.jpgMIAMI – For two decades the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project has provided mentoring, educational assistance, and academic and social enrichment opportunities to help young boys at risk of dropping out of school, to transform their lives and achieve success.

Initially established in 1993 by then Miami-Dade School Board member Frederica S. Wilson as the 500 African American Role Models of Excellence Project, community support swelled for the program and it became known as the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project.

This year a 20th Anniversary and Reunion Kick-Off Celebration was held June 14 at the Downtown Miami Hilton to commemorate the program’s milestone achievements in providing young males between the ages of 9 and 19 with a carefully chartered path to manhood by pairing them with adult mentors whose success can inspire them to successes of their own.

Hundreds of Role Model mentors and alumni, including early pioneers of the project, joined program founder Wilson, now a United States congresswoman. Producer and recording artist Doug E. Fresh and local singing sensation Betty Wright, along with actress JoMarie Payton, were invited to help celebrate with former Role Model students, Role Model mentors and community partners and sponsors.

Celebrating 20 Years of Mentoring, Guidance and Educational Assistance, is the theme of the yearlong celebration that organizers say will include activities throughout the year to commemorate the program’s milestone and successes.

“We want all of our mentors and former students and anyone who has touched or been touched by the Role Models
program to join us for this kick-off celebration,” said Wilson. “We are planning a plethora of activities to celebrate and reunite with all of our Role Model participants and supporters throughout these 20 years.”

In addition to providing activities and field trips for the students, the program has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships over the past 20 years through the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Foundation established by Wilson. This year, more than 130 graduating seniors received scholarships for college through the foundation, officials said.

*Picture PROJECT MENTORS: From left, Judge Rodney Smith, Miami-Dade Public Schools Police Chief Ian Moffet, and Judge Darrin Gayles.