After growing up in inner city Los Angeles, Joe became the first member of his family to go to college when he enrolled at Stanford University. A practicing psychiatrist, Joe now lives in Brooklyn with his wife Michèle and his two sons.
A documentary 13 years in the making, American Promise provides a rare look into the lives of two middle class Black families as they navigate the ups and down of parenting and educating their sons.
"If a lot of people were willing to make one small change, we imagined, maybe the collective impact would transform the environment surrounding our sons."
The idea of creating Promise Clubs came to Joe and Michèle after attending Harvard University Achievement Gap Initiative. They met a group of parents who had started meeting regularly to support each other after feeling that that their children were not getting the optimal educational experience. “They became an extended family. And we thought their system worked,"Joe says. They created Promise Clubs to empower parents so that they can empower their own children to achieve success—academically, socially, and emotionally. Find a Promise Club near you.
"If a lot of people were willing to make one small change, we imagined, maybe the collective impact would transform the environment surrounding our sons." - Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster, M.D.
"It shocked us to learn that at times even Idris felt more capable of playing in the NBA than being a scientist, which was far more likely." - Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster, M.D.
A documentary 13 years in the making, American Promise provides a rare look into the lives of two middle class black families as they navigate the ups and down of parenting and educating their sons.
Our goal is to empower boys, their parents, and educators to help close the Black male achievement gap.
The film will be release on PBS along with our parenting book, “Promises Kept: How to Help Black Boys Succeed in School and in Life,” by Random House in 2013.
Help us tell this unique story that explores the specific challenges that middle class black boys face as they come of age. As we come to understand the challenges that are weighing on black middle class boys, we begin to understand how to set them on a stronger path moving forward, and that’s when we start to really make the American Promise come true.
Black boys in America are in crisis right now – particularly academically. The issues they are facing are bigger than public vs. private school. American Promise holds a magnifying glass to our son and his best friend to really explore the unique factors that they face as middle-class black boys coming of age at home, at school and in their community. Partner with us to tell this story, and help us shine a light on these issues. American Promise will be an important tool in encouraging all educational institutions to critically examine their approach with young men of color. We can’t solve problems until we understand the issues.
Born in Haiti to a Haitian father and Panamanian mother, Michèle is a first-generation college graduate who juggles her time between filmmaking, new media projects, and keeping tabs on her two energetic boys.
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