ST. PETERSBURG — Demetrius Lowe says if you want to find an organization that really cares about African-American males and their futures, you should look no further than the Kappa Alpha Psi’s Kappa League Male Leadership Program. Lowe, now a junior at Florida A&M University joined the St. Pete chapter of the leadership group when he was in the seventh grade.
He said the organization, which is geared to mentoring young men, gave him people to look up to and taught him about responsibility and how to excel – even at things you don’t really want to do.
“It was a chance to see a positive role model that looks like me and is doing the right thing,” Lowe said.
Kappa League is a part of the Kappa Alpha Psi’s Guide Right program and began nearly 10 years ago with a group of students at Lakewood High School.
LaShante Keys, Guide Right director for the St. Petersburg Chapter, informed that young men all over Pinellas County can join.
“We take youth from sixth through twelfth grades,” he stated. “We do not require a [certain] income or a certain GPA.”
Keys said the program’s primary purpose is to help the youth become better citizens and members of the community.
“Our alumni are college graduates, pastors, entrepreneurs and in the military,” Keys said, noting that one of the most interesting things about the program is that most participants did not want to join at first.
However, over time and with the support of their families and members of the community, they were able to find the value in the program.
“We are committed to that child in the good times and bad times,” he averred.
Current chapter president Christopher Washington said he can certainly relate to how many new participants might feel. Each year, the group allows at least two elementary school students to join and in Washington’s fourth-grade year, he received one of those slots.
“I didn’t want to attend the meeting at first,” he said, “but my mom encouraged me to go and after a while, I really began to like it.
Washington, now a high school senior, said the family atmosphere and true friendship is what he likes most.
“The brotherhood behind it and the leadership skills you develop are the main things I enjoy,” he said.
After high school, Washington said he wants to attend college, major in biology then pursue a career as a biomedical engineer or plastic surgeon.
Charles Montona, an advisor with Kappa League for the past two years, has two sons in the program. He said the best part of the group is watching past participants come back as junior advisors.
“The way they still want to give back, it’s just awesome,” he said.
Terry Lipsey Scott, chair of the Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum’s executive board, is a strong advocate for the program and allows the chapter meetings to convene at the museum.
Lipsey Scott said she believes the organization is one of the best programs for young African-American males in Pinellas County.
“They do an extraordinary job preparing these young men for the next phase of their lives,” she said. “And it’s a great way for the museum to engage young black males in the community.”
She appreciates the fact that the organization doesn’t impose a deadline for joining and will take young men whenever they are ready to accept the challenge of Kappa League membership.
Currently, there are 25 young men participating in the program. Along with the mentoring piece, they attend various seminars as well as participate in community service projects such as delivering Thanksgiving baskets and adopting a block to keep clean.