What it Takes is a national outreach initiative that connects highly successful minority entrepreneurs, scientists, professional athletes, businessmen, military and medical professionals with hundreds of African-American and Latino males at risk of dropping out of high school. What it Takes fills a motivational void by having these high profile men, many of whom have struggled through the same paths as the target audience (14-18 year olds), reach back and tell them "What it Takes".
What it Takes events will serve as a best practice in prevention interventions for the target audiences. Each year 2500 African-American and Latino males in 8-10 U.S. cities who are struggling in public high school "drop out factories" will receive the opportunity to directly engage men they would not otherwise have access to, and develop personal leadership about their own potential for success.
The report Rising Above the Gathering Storm(National Academies, 2006) warns that the declining number of college graduates, especially in STEM fields, is a threat to America's preeminence. Tapping the nation's diversity to fill these critical positions is hampered by the subpar preparation and retention rates of minority students who are often unprepared and lack the motivation to even go to college.
Conceived by Anthony Martin, Founder and Executive Director of the Urban Youth Racing School, a STEM-based program, What it Takes emerged from the UYRS's efforts to interest more inner city students in science, technology, engineering and math through the motorsports industry. Students were excited about racing go karts and learning math, but were frustrated they did not know "what it takes" to be successful young men who could graduate from high school and go to college.