STAND Foundation, Inc.
Maximum Potential Academy (MPA)
E.W. Jackson was born into a broken home and placed in foster care from birth. By the age of ten years old he was a school delinquent, petty thief and gang member. He admits that his heroes were convicts, tough guys who were feared in the neighborhood. His trajectory was jail, drugs or early and tragic death, as happened to some of his former friends.
Then something dramatic happened. His father took custody of his son and changed his life overnight. William Jackson gave his son discipline, direction and a vision for a better life. In sixteen years, Bishop Jackson went from a juvenile offender at ten to a United States Marine, Phi Beta Kappa College of The University of Massachusetts and graduate of Harvard Law School in 1978.
William Jackson Youth Center
It was not a government program that changed the young Jackson’s life, but a loving father who stepped in before it was too late. That background and experience led Bishop Jackson to create the William Jackson Youth Center, in honor of his father as a way of helping young people in similar circumstances. It provides recreation, tutorial services and organized activities designed to inspire young people and enhance their vision of what is possible in life.
MPA is based on the principle that every child is endowed gifts, talents, intelligence and untapped potential. It is the of responsible adults to help unleash that potential. That’s what happened for E.W. Jackson and it can happen for other children from difficult circumstances.
One of the keys to success in life is the ability to overcome its challenges, and turn deprivations into a spur to action and improvement. In that sense, what appear to be curses can be turned into blessings. Disadvantage can be turned into motivation. Children do not get to choose where the circumstances into which they are born, but they be given options for responding to those circumstances.
Power of Personal Culture Course
MPA launched its Power of Personal Culture class, a six moth course created to transform norms, attitudes, ideas and behaviors of at risk youth ages ten to seventeen.
Culture is a very powerful influence. It can determine one’s destiny. A negative culture which promotes unhealthy norms can condemn a person to an unhealthy life. Many people live self-destructive lives because they learned that way of life growing up. Studies show that individuals are twice as likely to be incarcerated if a parent has been imprisoned. A 2013 study by Kevin Beaver of Florida State University showed:
“[T]here is a relatively strong degree of intergenerational transmission in crime and other types of misbehavior, wherein the offspring of criminal parents are significantly more likely to be arrested than the offspring of noncriminal parents.”
Negative cultural influences of family and community are difficult to transcend, but it can be done with the right influence. That’s why parents are required to participate with their children in MPA and the Power of Personal Culture class.
MPA is designed to break the influence of negative cultural norms and instill a culture of positive norms, attitudes and behaviors instead.