“High Aspirations will raise African American males’ aspirations by initiating innovative ways to improve their lives socially, emotionally, academically and spiritually.”
Our vision is to be the recognized resource in the Kansas City urban core for developing personal and life-skills in African-American young men to enable them to live socially productive lives.
In 2004, High Aspirations (H.A.) was founded by Henry W. Wash. High Aspirations is a faith- based program that solely focuses on young African American males ages 8-18. The program supports them in four areas: socially, academically, emotionally and spiritually.
High Aspirations addresses the lack of role models for African American males through mentoring. In Missouri 54 percent of African American males graduate from high school each year, compared to 70 percent of white males. Five Kansas City, Missouri schools have been labeled “dropout factories,” because less than 60 percent of freshmen make it to their senior year. Young African American men in Missouri also suffer the highest rates of homicide in the nation.
There are currently 69 young men participating in the program. More than 100 young men have graduated the program.
Founder – Henry W. Wash
Henry Wash is an example of how mentorship can affect life-change. Wash earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a minor in African American Studies and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Urban Affairs. Wash has over a decade of experience in nonprofit human services work. Growing up in Kansas City, Wash saw many peers, including his brothers become attracted to “street life”. Wash chose a different path and became a protégé’/mentee of the late Thurman Mitchell (KCTV5) and Henry W. Bloch, who helped fund his education.
Wash’s life-experience, education and relationships with many area business leaders lend to his credibility and effectiveness. He trains and shows the mentors how to teach the mentees to navigate through life-challenges in order to enter professional or corporate environments. Wash has completed Pathways Train the Trainer; Evidence Based Practices/ Criminogenic Needs Training; Advance Group Facilitation, Motivational Interviewing Training and is now a Minister in Training. High Aspirations has a training module that is used to train all High Aspirations mentors. The mentors take a pretest before and post-test after the training. They are also required to complete an evaluation. Of the original group of young men involved in the High Aspirations program 86% have moved forward successfully. The young men are doing one of the following: attending post-secondary education school (two year or four-year college or trade school), working full time, or serving in the US Military.