We had the good fortune of connecting with David C. Cephus and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi David C., can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have always lived by two of Fredrick Douglass’s famous quotes: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” and “A man’s character takes its hues, more or less from the form and color of things about him.” Both statements have shape and molded me into the man I am today. I’ve always been told I was smart but, I didn’t like school. In fact, I’ve always struggled with exceling in school. I’m not sure of the reason but, I overheard my father even mentioned to my mother once that I would never finish when I was only five years old. I remember being confused and discouraged – being in kindergarten at the time. And years later I seemingly proved him right when I dropped out of high school at the age of 19 after making it to the 10th grade and spending 2 extra years there.

My life’s goal to that end has always been to be who I needed when I was younger. I am an African American male; who is a Licensed Master Social Worker- this has prepared me for a lifetime of service with those who are vulnerable, disadvantaged, and disenfranchised. Even with my dual bachelor’s degree in Child and family studies / Africana and Latino studies, I have been educated and impassioned with understanding the importance of the family unit/dynamic, what a person may learn from their environment (nature) or their home structure (nurture), Why are people poor, and more. Using my education, I built a foundation for my life’s purpose of educating people but, have always come back to serving youth despite having many different roles.

A former boss once told me that she purposely pushed me in certain situations in efforts that I would be baptized by fire and able to weather any storm thus making me a stronger smarter clinician. Working in the foster care system is truly that fire. The advocacy, helping to heal trauma, and creating policy is something that will always stick to my bones. If you stay in the field long enough, you may become a wizard of the arts of saving countless young people from a society that does not understand and their own hopelessness. But also in turn, the grinding and the molding you endure, may rot you to the core in which you may become stagnated, dazed, and withdrawn. I have been fortunate and strong enough to stay in the fight to date and even more motivated to launch my own solution in making a difference for those who have been discarded, thrown out, left behind, told “they would never” and, locked out of the room.

Skhool Worcs is my answer. Skhool Worcs founded November 29, 2019, is about building a bridge for those who need it most by educating, motivating, and coaching. While there are programs that exist to help change the fate of those whom have been incarcerated, Skhool Worcs is an organization with the sole focus of changing lives and outcomes for young men of color ages 17-24 who have been in the foster care system and/or identify as juvenile justice involved youth. Skhool Worcs is also founded and operated by a man that they can see themselves in and vice-versa; instilling hope and faith that they can be successful however they chose. At Skhool Worcs our mission is to provide employment thru education. Our vison is for success to be contagious among all men of color. We will achieve this by utilizing a three-pong approach:
• Education
– We provide a pathway to earning high school equivalency.
• Work-readiness
– We train and teach students transferable and career-specific skills they can use to market themselves to top employers.
• Mentorship
– We use a 1 to 1 – staff to student approach in ensuring they have someone to walk alongside them in their personal/professional journey to self-efficiency.

In numerous roles ranging from direct service to administrative; across a multitude of human service positions, I have sought to seeing myself in every individual, magnifying their strengths and, taking the walk with them on their own personal journeys to change and better. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and like many children, I was born with the ideal that I would never amount to anything. I’ve dropped out of high school at 19 only to go back at 22. I graduated at 26 to work my first real job at 27. I earned a Master’s degree at 32 and at 36, the story continues.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
David Cephus is a Licensed Master Social Worker in the state of New York. He graduated from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work located at Yeshiva University where he earned a Master of Social Work degree with a clinical focus in Child Welfare and Social Work in schools. Prior to that, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Children and Family Studies and Africana and Latino Studies from the State University of New York College at Oneonta. David Cephus has gained applicable experience and knowledge through various certifications, internships, employment positions and lived-experience that enhance his skills and abilities while working with youth from all ages; families from all cultural backgrounds and walks of life; and other at-risk communities. David Cephus is a passionate educator that truly believes in anyone’s capability of being successful. His life’s work has been to that end in the various positions he held over the course of his personal and professional career.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
For all who believed in me when it was hard to believe in myself – you are appreciated. To the underdog – you can do it! run on and see what the end gone be!
To youth everywhere – you made it and deserve to be here – make you mark!

Website: skhoolworcs.org

Other: email dccephus@skhoolworcs.org

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