December 6, 2011

Glory Road: Mark Wahlberg

Find out what this actor and producer is doing to help kids stay in school.

Scott: Here is a serious statistic: almost one-third of American high school students never graduate. Mark Wahlberg wants to do something about it.

In today’s Glory Road, we catch up with the Oscar-nominated actor who is a big supporter of Boys and Girls Clubs, and helping young people stay in school.

Manny Bradao: Whatever. Let me just hear you play a little solo.

Scott: At fourteen, Manny Brandao considers himself a pretty good musician.

Manny: I play bass and play drums, and I would like to go to school for producing.

Scott: And at the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester, Massachusetts, he has got the tools to make it happen.

Manny: I’ve been able to record people with their talents in singing or playing an instrument.

Scott: This state of the art music studio with synthesizers and electronic instruments and sound booth is getting a lot of buzz. Other hopeful musicians are flocking here to join. It is a gift from an old neighbor — actor, producer and rapper Mark Wahlberg, who grew up right around the corner.

Wahlberg: When I was a kid, I used to play here every single day. This was a safe haven. There was a lot of trouble on the street. And of course, I still ended up finding that trouble.

Scott: The Oscar-nominated star dropped out of school at thirteen. He experimented with drugs, joined a gang and by sixteen was in jail.

Wahlberg: So, we used to hang out here all night, get high and get stupid.

You are getting a big buddy.

Scott: He wants these kids to learn from his mistakes.

Wahlberg: I can’t leave where I came from and just forget about it like it never happened, knowing how many kids still deal with, and are faced with, the same kind of struggles.

Scott: Every year 1.3 million students drop out of high school. That is 7,200 kids every day. Their number one reason, needing to find a job to help support their family.

Are these kids really in danger of dropping out?

Wahlberg: I could probably count on one hand the amount of friends that I had that actually graduated high school.

Scott: Distracted by negative influences, Marissa Sneed was failing.

Marissa Sneed: But coming to the club, I had my mentors and they were like, ‘we are going to give you these tutors’ and they were like, ‘you are going to pass this class.’ And at the end of the day, I passed the class. I did not have to repeat classes or summer school. It was amazing.

Scott: Those are the results Wahlberg’s looking for. That is why he has teamed up with the Taco Bell Foundation to launch Graduate To Go, a program aimed at providing teens real life experiences and on-the-job training in a host of careers.

A new study reports 81% of high school drop outs say, if they had been introduced to career paths early on, they would have stuck it out.

Wahlberg: All it takes it one positive influence.”

Scott: Aisling Kerr struggled to find her place in school. Now she dreams big.

Aisling Kerr: I’m applying to Boston College, Notre Dame, Fordham, Bentley.

Scott: Those are the kinds of dreams Wahlberg is seeding.

Wahlberg: These kids are so focused, so smart, so determined. It’s like all they need is an opportunity. And then forget it, get out of their way. Because they’re hungry, you know? They’re really hungry.

Scott: Musician Manny Brandao is eating it up.

Manny: For me, is if I was to go on tour and get famous. I didn’t have no one to do it for me. I would do it myself. And this will bring me far in life. You can live out your artistic fantasies. And explore your creativity.

Wahlberg: Good stuff, buddy. Stay in the studio, man.

Scott: And this is only the beginning.


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