DeKalb Kids Project, Inc. goal is to reduce the Pipeline to Prison by genuinely reaching the youth to encourage, expose, and inspire them to reach their full potential. With the support of the homes, community and schools we can successfully increase overall performance and decrease the activity of behavioral issues leading to suspension, violence, and ultimately incarceration. Engagement. Support. Mentorship. DeKalb Kids Project, Inc.
By knowing the facts we can focus on a solution:
According to the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice’s statewide report for suspension rates, there has been a decrease of 2.9% over a 9 year period, 2007-2016.
DeKalb County School District, though above average, suspension rates indicated 12.5% in 2007 to 9.2% in 2016, decreasing by 3.7% over 9 years.
Redan High School, predominantly black, suspension rates from 2016 by gender revealed 22% male and 12% female.
The AJC created a record for the percentages of African-American students suspended from school in metro Atlanta’s largest school districts. The list shows the districts’ percentage of black students for DeKalb 69%, with 89.5% of students black.
DKP mentoring program is a direct product of the three main focus areas. (Home, Community, School) The overall success of the program is measured by the impact of the youth in all aspects. We emphasize the importance of gaining and applying knowledge, learning while the information is available, and using our knowledge to be the source of change. We measure the success of our program on the following criteria:
•Academic performance and achievements
•Pride in ones community and issues revolving
•Self confidence and emotional support
•Creative learning and life lessons
•Higher education and opportunities
The mentorship program is a direct product of the three main focus areas. (Home, Community, School) The ongoing communication with the parents to engage the child, determine interests and passions for the communication, and implementation through community events and involvements. The overall success of the program is measured by the inspired influence on the child in all aspects with an emphasizing the importance of gaining and applying knowledge.
As a student, and as an individual I seek change in my environment. I want to implement a sense of home and community for myself and others. With the Dekalb Kids Project I can do that. I found not only a second “home”, but a way to assist members in my community. Every event I go to, everything that I am assigned to do, is put forth to help those who need a hand. DKP has been very influential to me and has given me a sense of pride in the things and work that I do. I am encouraged to be the best “me that I can be”, and it shows with every smile of every student I am able to work with.
The Dekalb Kids Project has allowed me to step forward and be a leader in my community. As someone who tends to shy away from social interactions, the organization has allowed me to break out of my shell and illuminate every step forward to be someone others can look up to. I can connect with students across Dekalb County, students that I can relate to, as I am a product of Dekalb. I understand their concerns, and DKP allows me to help them address their concerns in healthy and responsible ways. Which in turn allows me to better myself and learn how to cope and use a variety of strategies to overcome personal obstacles.
The Dekalb Kids Project is much more than just a mere organization. It is not only a haven for students, but a family in which you learn how to take pride in your community, how to balance your lifestyle, how to deal with social interactions, ways to achieve even the smallest of goals, and most importantly what it means to help others.
Mentoring is important to because you are given the chance to learn from someone who has accomplished a lot in life and desires to help you reach your destination. They know exactly what it requires and the sacrifices that are needed to be made. I am lucky to have had that opportunity with my mentor, Mr. DaCosta. I am very thankful that he shares a lot of his time helping to guide me through my journey. I have found that some things can only be learned through experience and teaching. For that reason, having him in my life is extremely valuable, especially at this time in my life where I am discovering myself and becoming a man.
Meeting Mr. DaCosta back in high school at Miller Grove was a blessing in disguise. Upon meeting him, I knew there was a lot to learn from him. His passion for life and success has truly been a blessing. He has accomplished a lot with his nonprofit organization, DeKalb Kids Project, Inc. and they continue to give back to the community by reading books to children, supplying food drives, providing school supplies to those in need, and many other ways.
Mr. DaCosta continues to go above and beyond to help me succeed. I highly value our mentor relationship because not only do we share the same passions for each other but we share a desire to always surpass our limits and to help each other maximize our potential.
My name is Bhakti Johnston and, I am a proud member of DeKalb Kids Project (DKP), which I joined in January of this year. I love donating my time to this cause because I get to participate in giving back to those less fortunate. I also enjoy doing service with DKP because they listen to us, and ask for our input and ideas - and if accepted, incorporate the ideas into their schedule. Like many of the other hard working and caring members of DKP, I enjoy communicating with people from all walks of life and it is a pleasure to be able to serve my community as well. My desire to serve my community comes from seeing my mom help others in need, and also from the good feeling I get when I know my contribution makes life easier for someone in need. Since joining, I have participated in several events which mainly involve giving back to those less fortunate. Not only did my group clean up the community and distribute food and other necessities to the less fortunate, but we were able to donate time to plant a garden and help beautify a local school. For this project I earned recognition - The 2017 community Uplift Award for “Project Earth.” I love nature and working outside with my hands. In the future I plan to study in the field of agriculture/sustainability/conservation/solar power; I haven’t totally decided exactly which one as yet, but am hoping I could be involved in all. My greatest desire is to be able to contribute to society by educating the hungry and less fortunate on ways to sustain themselves and their families. I plan on teaching the youth to be self-sufficient, and to be masters of their own destiny. The year before joining DKP I was a member of Habitat for Humanity, and I got to help build a house also, something I thoroughly enjoyed. I would like everyone to learn how to grow their own food in their own communities; to maintain the land with natural practices, and not chemicals; to harness energy from the sun and from the water, and to educate themselves on becoming self-sufficient. I want to work to help Mother Earth to heal faster, and also our families to live healthier and safer lives.
“I’ve been involved with DeKalb Kids Project Inc. since 2015 and I love it! I first met Diijon and Tiijon DaCosta at Kennesaw State University and they later became my mentors. I saw what they were doing and I wanted to do the same. I will never forget the time I volunteered with DKP participating in the community cleanup. During the event, I met a few young men who were volunteering and saw how Diijon and Tiijon were engaging the young men. Suddenly, Diijon put me on the spot and said, “Hey Rodney, talk to this young man he is going through the same thing you went through.” Although it forced me to think on the spot I enjoyed the opportunity to help give direction to the young man. I love DKP! I later took the opportunity to ask questions about DKP to see where it was going, and I was instantly drawn to it. Mentorship is my passion and it is near and dear to my heart. I saw the exact thing in Diijon and Tiijons’ hearts and I couldn’t let the opportunity slip away.
I chose mentorship because I don’t want to see people make the same mistakes I did. What I have to offer to the youth is simply myself. I genuinely care about people and respect everyone. If I can help someone avoid a situation, I will. For example, If I know that the stove is hot because I burned myself from touching it, I could not bear to watch someone else do the same exact thing, to get burned in the same place. Your path is there to help the next person, to be the voice of caution. DKP is A1 like the Steaksauce!”