The OK Program is a mentoring and leadership development model that focuses on African-American males 12 to 18 years old. The Program’s primary goals are to help young men develop leadership and critical thinking skills, promote academic excellence, and reduce the high rates of incarceration and homicide young African-American males face.
Since 1990, when it was founded in Rancho Cordova, California, the OK Program has touched the lives of thousands of young African-American boys. When you meet and talk with some of the Program alums, it doesn’t take long for them to share how OK has changed their lives. When they talk about the Program, you not only see a smile on their face, you also hear it in their voice. It’s because the OK Program helped them become the responsible, value-driven men they are today. Some say that it literally saved their lives.
Instead, they are PhDs, college basketball coaches, law enforcement officers, professional athletes, actors, and very successful entrepreneurs. They are loving husbands who with their wives are raising children and passing on to them some of the key learnings, principles, and values they learned and embraced from their OK experiences.
Donald Northcross, a Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff when he founded the OK Program–affectionately known as Dep to past and present OK boys–has logged hundreds of thousands of hours over the years participating in KIC'IT sessions. Held every Saturday, the KIC'IT sessions (Kids Interacting, Communicating Immix Teammates) bring together the OK boys, African-American men who serve are positive role models and mentors, and a police officer who serves as the local OK Program Coordinator. All the adult males are called “Teammates” because the OK model is based on a team mentoring effort with each adult Teammate playing a key role in the overall success of the OK Program.
At the KIC'IT sessions, the Teammates develop strong relationships and share life experiences with our young African-American boys who learn during the session that they are responsible for their future, must always strive for excellence, achieve the best possible grades, be respectful of self and others, and seek to make positive contributions to their families and communities. Our young men also receive important training on how to interact with police when contacted or confronted by an officer, which often occurs more than it ever should in the lives of young black males.
The KIC'IT sessions also include a hearty lunch and fun sports including basketball, flag football, softball, and other activities that get the boys, as well as their adult mentors, moving and fully engaged in physical activity. The KIC-IT model is a holistic approach to mentoring and youth leadership development that engages the body, mind, spirit, and soul. For the OK Program, it is the model that has been working since 1990. Every city needs an OK Program.