What Is SaluteU?
SaluteU is created in memory and honor of Umar “Salute” Muhammad. Prior to his untimely passing, Umar was a formerly incarcerated individual who subsequently utilized his experiences with the criminal system to adgvocate for black communities and other incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals.
SaluteU focuses on providing education and resources to youth involved with the criminal system or engaging in activities that tend to lead to involvement with the criminal system. In October 2022, SaluteU’s Program Director, Eric Stokes, began the program at West Charlotte High School and North Mecklenburg High School by simply visiting the schools to identify youth in need of the SaluteU Program. The first cohort of the SaluteU Program will consist of 10 to 15 students from each school, totaling 20 to 30 youth in the inaugural cohort.
During his visits to both schools, Stokes found the following while building relationships and garnering the trusts of potential SaluteU Program participants:
· Youth are interested in gainful employment opportunities and career readiness;
· Youth can benefit from the sport of boxing as an outlet to release anger and stress;
· Youth that have problems inside and outside of school will benefit from therapy;
· Youth could benefit from someone other than family to hold them accountable; and
· Youth will benefit from having someone that they trust and can depend on to be there for them.
In response to needs identified by the youth engaged thus far, the SaluteU Program will offer the following services:
· A “Changed Action Plan” or CAP- 12-month plan outlining the youth’s plan to change his/her actions along with the youth’s career and financial goals
· Weekly courses on conflict management, financial planning and career readiness
· Connection with SaluteU Program Employers
· Free weekly boxing classes at Stokes Boxing Academy
· Assigned mentor with past involvement with the criminal system
· Assigned sponsors
· Access to SaluteU Program attorneys as needed
· Therapy and mental health services asneeded
To be eligible to participate in the SaluteU Program, youth must meet the following eligibility requirements:
· Involvement with the criminal system or engaging in activities that tend to lead to involvement with the criminal system
· Signed permission slip and waiver form from parent or legal guardian
· Signed commitment to 1-year participation in the SaluteU Program. Such commitment includes: (1) weekly check-in with assigned mentor; (2) attendance at weekly courses; (3) report grades and academic accomplishments and/or needs to SaluteU Program Director; and (4) Prepare and implement CAP; and (5) commitment to serve as a mentor for future SaluteU cohorts.
After 12 months, each SaluteU Program participant will have lessened their involvement or potential involvement with the criminal system as measured by their “Changed Action Plan,” academic performance, and participation in other activities such as boxing and employment.
If you or a youth you know can benefit from the SaluteU Program, please contact Alesha Brown at email@example.com or Eric Stokes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 704-800-6628
Umar "Salute" Muhammad