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'Suit Up, Show Up' event asks men of color to show up on first day of school

East Side Charter School

School is just getting underway for students across the First State, and one group is planning a special surprise for students.

The event is called “Suit Up, Show Up” – and it’s asking 300 men of color to show up at Wilmington’s East Side Charter first thing Tuesday.

Aaron Bass is CEO for Vision Academies, which runs East Side Charter School and Charter School of New Castle’s middle and elementary schools.

“As our students are coming in on the first day of school, we want them to be able to connect with incredible leaders and mentors to be able to understand where they can see their future selves," Bass said.

It’ll be the first event of its kind for the school.


About 84% of East Side Charter’s students come from low-income families, and about 91% of the school’s students were African American last year. That’s why Bass says Vision Academies provides extra layers of support that extend far past Tuesday: into the school year, and beyond.

“We actually have staff that go into high schools and support our children in their high schools, they work with families," Bass said. "We have staff that work with children on high school applications as well as college applications, we work with them on internships...”

Bass says part of that process includes helping students create a vision plan to start charting out their futures.

“Our focus is really on how do we connect that child to this foreign concept of what they want to be to be connected with their reality," Bass said. "So we bring in mentors, we do trips, we have children connect with our director of college and career to make sure they understand, we’re going to support you the entire way.”

Bass is also part of a network called The Fellowship, dedicated to increasing the number of men of color in education positions. The group is holding its national conference in Philadelphia October 13-15.


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