Young Merchants Club

Pedagogical Approach: C.C.O.R.R.S. 


Circumstances - Where are you now, who are you now, who is your family? How has that influenced you and the choices you’ve made or will make? (identity, self-hood, family choices, legacy self, current situation)

Challenges – What are you facing or have faced that is impeding your potential or progress? (racism, classism, political / social oppression, neighborhood, poverty)

Opportunities – What are some things that are happening or that will happen that give you hope or present opportunities for you to grow or progress? Is it a person? Place? Thing? (historical people and stories of success, case studies that examine triumph current and past e.g. entrepreneurs, risk-takers, revolutionaries, failures)

Resources – What do you have in your possession or have access to that can help you with your opportunities or solve challenges? Your personality traits? Unique skill-set? A degree, good with hands, artist, computer, mentors)

Risks- What risks may appear if you don’t do anything about your circumstance? What risks may appear if you go for opportunities? (loss of wealth, time, energy, other opportunities, friends, youth)

Strategies – What are some proven ways and means you can use to optimize your opportunities reduce your risks and overcome your challenges? 


Aspirations, Models, and Pathways


1. How to be a Real One - Strategies


Purpose: Establish an aspiration in life and an objective to work towards.


Essential Questions: What is a G? How does a G represent success? What does a G offer his community? What are the pathways to becoming a G? 


Resource material: Excerpt “Living and Dying in Brick City” - book


Assignment: Future autobiography essay: Write your future autobiography of how you became a G. Describe your day-to-day life. Describe what about this life generates the respect of family, friends, and elders. Describe what about this life enriches you and your community.



2. Everyone has a mentor – who is yours? Resources

Purpose: Identify people in your life who personify values you want for yourself and determine what about their attitudes and behavior you want to emulate. 


Essential Question: Who do I know that embodies my aspirations and values? What do I admire about this person? What differentiates this person from other people in my life? 


Resource material: Exconversations episode 4 – Orlando Cruz (Orlando record short video clip 2 minutes)


Assignment: Find three people in your life who embody the traits you admire. Ask them each what are the three greatest lessons they’ve learned, and what is their greatest regret? Report back what you’ve learned from them

3. - Accidental apprenticeship: Recognizing when to learn from others - Opportunities

Purpose: To understand that you can learn from both the success and failure of others


Essential Question: Who has taught me the most in life and how? 


Resource material: Story of two lawyers from Awaken the Giant Within


Assignment: Make a list of ten things you’ve learned from failure – either your failure or the failure of someone around you. Take that list and for each one of the ten, write what you learned from each.


4.  Why your mother is your greatest asset - Resources


Purpose: To showcase the sacrifice and dedication of mothers and grandmothers 


Essential Question: How can I utilize the tools she has given me in a productive way?


Resource material: 


Assignment: Interview your mother. Ask her these five questions 1. What was she thinking and feeling when you were born? 2. Did things go as planned since then? 3. What if anything did she sacrifice? 4. What is her greatest hope for you? 5. What would disappoint her the most?




5.  The 6 types of geniuses - Circumstances


Purpose: Find your genius/ cultivating existing talents and passions.


Essential Question: What does it mean to be a genius? What is your hidden genius? What can your genius offer the world? How do you reveal your hidden genius?


Resource material: 6 genius profiles


Assignment: Research somebody who you consider a genius (famous or not). Describe what makes them a genius. Chronicle the history of how they translated their genius into reality. Argue for why this person should receive an award recognizing their genius.


Alternate Assignment 1: Project: Design a project that allows you to express your genius in a public setting and for the benefit of those around you. Consider other types of geniuses that complement your own. Describe the ways you could collaborate with other types of geniuses.


Alternate Assignment 2: Interview somebody you consider a genius: Generate a list of questions you would ask this person. Sit down and interview this individual. Consider how you could ask yourself these questions in order to discover your own genius.

6. Be the first to establish greatness wherever you are - Opportunities
When they say "he is the next..." The name after the word next is the person who has set the precedence for greatness in that field. So they say this singer is the next Michael Jackson or this basketball player is the next Jordan.

Purpose: Cultivate an outlook that values originality over imitation and meaningful contributions that have personal and social dividends. 


Essential Question: What does it mean to be great? What is my original form of greatness? What is the difference between greatness and fame?


Resource material: Story of an outsider whose greatness wasn’t initially recognized. 


Assignment: Outline your seven steps to greatness and describe why you chose each step


7. Deliberate negligence - In order for some things to get done, others things must purposely be neglected - Strategies

Purpose: Foster the ability to establish and adhere to priorities while exercising restraint and understanding the consequences of decisions in the short and long term. 


Essential Question: What are my priorities and how can I manage them?


Resource material: video clip or reading from young self help


Assignment: Use a Strategic Planner to outline your top 3 goals and how to get there (provided by YMC)



8. Don't ask “What about me?” Ask “What about you?” Opportunities


Purpose: To highlight empathy and service as keys to personal success and growth


Essential Question: Who can I serve now? How can I serve them?


Resource material: Inspirational story of young student who raised money etc.



Assignment: Find a cause. Join and participate. Report back what you’ve learned and what stood out.


9. Getting a college degree may not be for you, but make sure something is. Circumstances


Purpose: Determine the appropriate training and credentials that will underpin success, self-satisfaction, and a purposeful life. 


Essential Question: What training is most appropriate for the life I want to live? How do I cultivate the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to translate my ideas into a viable reality?


Resource material: Ted Talk – High School Training Ground



Assignment: Talk to two happy and successful people. One should have a college degree and one should not have one. Ask them these 5 questions 1. Are you doing what you thought you would be doing when you were young? Why or why not? 2. What shaped your decision to go to college / not go to college? 3. How do you think your life would’ve been different if you went to college / did not go to college? 4. Where do you find the most satisfaction in your career path? 5. Are you able to take care of your family with your salary?


10. Be steak not eggs- commit yourself to something and stick it out. Strategies


Purpose: To reinforce the idea that once we make a positive choice, we should see it through to the end for character growth and integrity


Essential Question: What are the three main positive commitments I’ve made in the past year? In what ways can I honor these commitments?

Resource material: Reddit “Regret Thread”


Assignment: Carry around a journal for a week. Monitor and count how many times in one week that you keep your commitments or break them. What do you see happening? How can you improve?


11. Don’t follow your passion follow your contribution. Strategies

Purpose: To differentiate between skill and dreams


Essential Question: What do I do better than most people? Why aren’t I doing that thing everyday? How can I earn a living from doing that thing?


Resource material: Online dictionary / encyclopedia link 


Assignment: Research and define these words: 1. Skill, 2. Talent, 3. Contribution, 4. Passion 5. Dream 6. Aspiration  - what are the main differences between these words? Which one can you relate to the most and why?


12. Learn to be wrong - the best possible position is mistakes etc. Opportunities

Purpose: To allow for mistakes but highlight that there is a learning curve in every mistake made


Essential Question: What have I done wrong in the past two weeks? What have I learned from those things?


Resource material: Three closest friends



Assignment: Interview your friends. Ask them four questions 1. What do I do good? 2. What can I improve in? 3. What do you see as my greatest flaw? 4. What are your suggestions for me? Report back their answers and whether you agree with them or not and why.


13. Because or despite? Will you make it because of your pain or despite it? You decide how to use it, but use the pain. It's there to be used up. Opportunities

Purpose: Let students have room to recognize their struggles while embracing the challenges that come with them in order to push forward


Essential Question: What challenges are causing me the most pain and discomfort right now? How are they stopping me from moving forward?


Resource material: Sam Berns:



Assignment: ‘Imagining Alternative Outcomes’ Role-play: Create two videos each depicting different arguments that you will make. In one video you will make a 2 minute argument on why you can’t be successful because of your challenges and the other video you will make a two minute clip arguing why you can be successful despite your challenge. Make a list before you record and explain why you can / can’t be – and how you can / can’t be successful.



14. 5 steps to political power - Strategies


Purpose: To give voice and empowerment to young people through showing them how to leverage their identities


Essential Question: How can I use my voice to help myself and my community politically?


Resource material:  Local city councillor 



Assignment: 1. Ask five young people what they think is the greatest problem facing your local community. 2. Make a list of how you can help solve that problem. 3. Make an appointment at your local city councillor’s office. 4. Show him/her your list and ask for his/her help. 5. Report back findings, results and outcomes 


15. You must do it alone - You can't hire nine women who work together really hard as a team and have a baby in one month. Because some things must be done alone and some things take time. Circumstances

Purpose: Foster a sense of self-sufficiency and ability to cope and thrive independently. 


Essential Question: What can I accomplish right now without anyone else’s help? What do I need to accomplish this on my own?


Resource material:



Assignment: Pick a quote from the website Goodreads. Explain why you like that quote the best and how it connects to your life.

Make a cake from scratch by yourself there are 2 rules 1. You can’t take help from anyone at all 2. The cake cannot be from ready-made box cake-mix. Use a recipe that you research. Bring the cake to school and your class will judge who made the best cake. Report back on what you learned not about the cake itself, but about the process of making the cake alone. How can this help you in life?


16. You can't always be a hero but you can always be a man/woman. Challenges

Purpose: To develop the intrinsic value of dignity and worth in each human


Essential Question: How do I define manhood? Womanhood? 


Resource material: Run like a girl



Assignment: Write a 10 sentence paragraph with your own definition of man or womanhood. Answer these questions 1. What examples of people did you use to help you come up with a definition? 2. Why did you choose these words to define man/womanhood?

17. – Levels of poverty Challenges

Purpose: To come to terms that poverty comes in different forms and so does wealth


Essential Question: How am I wealthy? How am I poor?


Resource material: Sneetches video



Assignment: Answer these questions 1. Which side of the Sneetches do you see yourself? How do you think that side is wealthy? How do you think that side is poor? Explain how this fits into your own life and the ways you see yourself as wealthy and poor

18. The greatest day of your life as told by you. Circumstances

Purpose: To highlight important moments of triumph that help shape our world-view


Essential Question: What moments have shaped who I am today?


Resource material: Memory / photos



Assignment: Photo-journal: Stage twelve photos depicting the various moments that you wish to define your life. Consider the photographs you would like to remember and have friends and family view. Determine what images would speak to the best qualities of your identity and what it would look life for those qualities to be captured in a moment in time. Write captions for each photograph that describes the image as it relates to the live you are planning to live. 


19. Culture - Circumstances


Purpose: To make self-awareness and caution important factors


Essential Question: Who am I? Who do I want to surround myself with? Am I accomplishing that goal?



Resource material: Excerpt from Makes Me Wanna Holla


Assignment: Consider yourself someone who studies different cultures. Rather than living in a community as a member, step back and observe the community. Go to four different places and take notes: 1. Place of worship 2. Place of shopping. 3. Place of entertainment 4. Place of business. Answer these 5 questions for each place 1.What does the place look like? Give details- (big or small, old or new, poor-looking or wealthy?)2. What do the people look like? 3. How do they interact with one another (rude, happy, angry, polite) 4. Do they interact differently with different types of people in the same place (grandmothers, store clerks, pastors)? 5. – Why do you think that is? Conclude by writing about 2 things 1. Write the patterns you see and what stands out the most to you in these places and why. 2. Are these people happy people? Why?



20. Your friends – your future - Risks


Purpose: Highlight how peer pressure can influence decision-making


Essential Question: Who are my friends? How are they influencing me?


Resource material: Friends



Assignment: Interview 3 friends and ask them these 5 questions. 1. Why are you my friend? 2. What do you think I bring to our friendship? 3. What do you think you bring to this friendship? 4. What do you want to accomplish and become? 5. What steps are you taking right now to make sure that happens? – Write about your results and what you think 

21. Some people are worse together – do your friends make you smarter or no? Risks

Purpose: To self-examine the relationships we maintain and the value they give to our lives


Essential Question: What have my friends and I accomplished together? 



Resource material: The Pact excerpt (3 black boys decide to be doctors)



Assignment: Two days in the life play-by-play audio reflection: Create a reflective audio essay that you narrate like a sports commentator. In this essay, introduce two separate days in your life where the influence of friends influenced your behavior. The first day should describe a moment when a friend’s influence made you less smart. The second day should describe a moment when a friend’s influence made you smarter. Describe these days as if you were a sports commentator describing the play-by-play of each day during a radio broadcast. Create a picture for a listener that establishes the setting, breaks down the interactions, and offers commentary on what transpired. Make the descriptions exciting and suspenseful for your audience. Consider the way a friend offered an assist or interference. What did you discover? 


22. My Family - Strategies


Purpose: Self-evaluation


Essential Question: Who is my family?



Resource material: Family



Assignment: Create a photo journal of 6 family members (mom, dad, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, grand-mom, cousin or anyone else) For each person write about these three things: 1. What they mean to you 2. Where they are in life 3 How did they get there? Then write a separate paragraph talking about the ways you think each person has influenced you negatively or positively


23. Beautiful creation, ugly situation . Don't have babies before you can afford them.. Affording them doesn't mean you can buy sneakers. It means you have rent saved for 6 months or own a home, have a dependable car a stable job that provides substantial income and an insurance plan - Challenges


Purpose: To highlight both the beauty of new life and the complications that may occur


Essential Question: How can I avoid a life of hardship for myself and my future children?



Resource material: 





24. The benefits of entrepreneurship - Opportunities


Purpose: Showcase the benefits and hard work of financial independence


Essential Question: Is Entrepreneurship for me? Why or why not?



Resource material: Local business owner



Assignment: Go to a local auto-body shop, takeout restaurant or local corner store. Interview the store manager or store owner. Ask them these six questions: 1. Why did you start your own business? 2. How long have you been in business? 3. Why did you choose this business? 4. Describe your day from waking up to bedtime. 5. Is it worth it? 6. Why or why not?


25. How to save to move out - Strategies


Purpose: To give an explicit method of financial accountability


Essential Question: How can I utilize my wealth in a way that gives me some freedom now, but allows me to save for future goals?



Resource material: financial strategy for youth book excerpt


Assignment: Design a savings strategy. Outline the strategy answering these five questions. 1. What are you saving for 2. How much you will save, 3. How long will it take you? 4. What are you willing to sacrifice buying daily or weekly to save? 5. What is your daily budget to spend?  How will you penalize yourself if you spend more than your budget? 



26. Why school is worth it - Resources


Purpose: To accentuate the power of learning and the appreciation we should have


Essential Question: Am I utilizing all the resources that my school has to offer me?


Resource material: teacher, advisor, guidance counselor; story of freedmen schools in 1867




Assignment: Ask your teacher or advisor to help you research the scholarships or grants that are available to you as a student and local community member. Pursue one and report back results 1. What did you find? 2. What are you applying for? 3. Why? 4. How was the process? (easy, difficult) 5. Why?



27. There’s only two places where they tell you when to eat and shower – summer camp and prison - Risks


Purpose: To show the dead-end reality of one bad choice


Essential Question: How can I avoid bad choices?


Resource material: letter from prison / video of excon / mass incarceration stat weblink



Assignment: Research the statistics of prison population. What are their challenges? How is life for them when they come home? 


28. How to talk your way out of drama and into peace - Strategies


Purpose: To showcase alternatives to violence 


Essential Question: How can I walk away with my life and dignity from any situation?



Resource material: former gang member 2 minute video clip / Gang peace strategies for peace 



Assignment: Learn the ways to de-escalate a volatile situation. Report back on your thoughts


29. The Police and you- Strategies

Purpose: Highlight that the relationship between law enforcement and community members can be positive


Essential Question: How can I understand the jobs of police officers in my neighborhood?


Resource material:


Assignment: You are going to interview a local police officer. You will craft 7 questions based on the NY Times article you’ve read. Visit the local station with a guardian or parent. Ask to speak with community liaison officer. Introduce yourself and ask if he/she would be kind enough to grant you an interview about their job.  Report back on what you discover through this process.



30. Opiates  - Risks


Purpose: To expose the danger in drug use


Essential Question: How can I educate more people about the dangers of drug use 



Resource material: Statistics on opiate use weblink



Assignment: Design a social media campaign for anti-opiate use. Create a meme or a slogan that teaches a lesson, takes a point or makes a warning against using opiates. Try to push it to as many people as possible. Report back retweets, likes etc and also the responses of your social media followers

31. How to honor your dead homies – Strategies 

Purpose: To highlight the sacredness of life


Essential Question: How can I make the most of the lives of those I’ve lost?



Resource material: Newspaper template



Assignment: Design a newspaper article about someone you love who has passed away. Use a photo of them and discuss four things.  1. Who they were to you 2. What were some of their best qualities 3. What they thought of you 4. What they would want you to do with your life. Report back about what you thought about this process 


32. Business Ethics – Resources


Purpose: Highlight the ethical principles that entail business management


Essential Question: What do I need to know before I can be successful in business and life?


Resource material: Ethics clip



Assignment: Write your own business ethics manual. What are your top ten rules to follow? List each rule and explain each rule





33. Social Media Literacy – Risks


Purpose: To reinforce the benefit and dangers of social media use 


Essential Question: Am I considering who views my social media posts and how it might affect my future goals?


Resource material: social media example gone good / gone bad



Assignment: What is the worst social media example you’ve seen? What made it the worse? What was the outcome? What was the best use of social media you’ve witnessed? Why? Create your own social media platform idea – answer these four questions 1. What is it called? 2. How will it function? 3. Who will it serve? 4. What problem does it solve?



34. How to be a strategic Disrupter – Strategies 


Purpose: To empower youth to prevent bullying and to be aware of their own bullying


Essential Question: How can I activate my identity to help someone else in need?



Resource material: Bullying guide 



Assignment: Give one example of a case of high profile bullying (famous people, historical case etc) Why do you think this case sticks out? What makes it important and what can we learn from it?



35. Taxes – Resources


Purpose: To educate youth on the importance and utility of taxes


Essential Question: Why do we pay taxes and why do people debate about them?



Resource material: Crash Course Economics Tax clip


Assignment: Using the info from the video clip, research a current tax issue in your local news on or in the national spot light. What is the debate? Who do you agree with? Why? Explain yourself


36. Final Project - Strategies


Purpose: To use the tools student has developed throughout the year to show measurable positive change 


Essential Question: How can I add to the YMC journey for the next member coming after me?


Materials:  The YMC welcome packet


Assignment: Read the YMC welcome packet. Underline or circle any words or phrases that stand out as true or not so true for you as a YMC member. Make notes and give suggestions on how you would change, add to or take away from the packet. Write a one-page reflection on your year with YMC. Find a way to add your suggestions into your reflection paper.



12 strategies

5 Resources


6 Opportunities


5 Circumstances


3 Challenges


5 Risks