In celebration of Black History Month, the DC Out-of-School-Time Coalition is spotlighting Black leaders in the District who came up through OST programs. OST programs can help uplift youth and encourage them to embrace their interests, abilities and talents outside of an academic setting. Our Black History Month features celebrate the District’s OST programs and the educators who lead them.
Maurice Kie is uplifting 26 years worth of tradition for black boys and young men in the District
Maurice Kie, a native Washingtonian proud of his Ward 7 roots, serves as an ambassador and program manager for Life Pieces To Masterpieces, an out-of-school-time program uplifting Black boys and teens. In his roles, Maurice maintains the history and tradition of the organization while uplifting the voices of Life Pieces To community members and donors. Maurice has worn many hats in this organization since his time as a youth in the program in 1996.
For Maurice, growing up in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of DC was a balance of surviving and trying to have fun. Due to the violence in the neighborhood and the recognition that she needed a safe place for her children, Maurice’s mother sought out a program for him and his little brother and found Life Pieces to Masterpieces. As one of the “original seven,” Maurice, age eight at the time, and his cohort helped shape the Life Pieces curriculum alongside the founders of the organization.
Since 1996, Life Pieces To Masterpieces has been a safe place for young boys and teens to get a meal after school, build community and learn about their interests and abilities after school. Life Pieces serves youth from ages 3 to 25, but according to their philosophy, human development doesn’t end at 25 and neither does the community that the program facilitates. Once inducted into the Life Pieces community, membership never ends. Maurice is living proof.
As a shy and often reserved child, having tools to grow leadership skills was key for Maurice in his development. It was in the program where he not only learned art, life skills, and academics outside of school, and was able to earn his first stipend when he became a junior mentor for Life Pieces when he was 16. The passion for youth development and community that fuels his dedication to the youth he works with came directly from his participation in the program.
“That process of creating a painting really opened me up to who I can be as a young person and who I can be as a young man,” noted Maurice.
Today in 2022, the organization is in its 26th year and has a human development system for their apprentices (the name for their youth participants). As apprentices, they are not only encouraged to be themselves but are motivated to be active members of their community. Once settled in the program, apprentices don their Life Pieces human development badge, learn to address each other as “brother”, and are taught every day that the smallest things can change the world.
“OST allowed me to step back and realize that I have a gift and recognize that everyone else has a gift. Your gift could be your story, your gift could be your experience, but overall your gift could be what you learn from those experiences,” explained Maurice.
Their unique human development system is the basis for their OST curriculum, and often where the apprentices learn about their purpose and their community. Every month, the curriculum changes to match a value within the human development system chart and is altered to fit the differing age groups and needs of the participants. Art is the main component of the program, giving youth the opportunity to artistically express themselves based on their emotions, current events, or their human development curriculum. With organized games, homework time, and tutoring from local university students, the program is all about embracing shared humanity by getting to know a range of cultures and languages.
“A lot of times we talk about shared humanity and people walking side by side, but where is the practice for that?” Maurice said about the importance of teaching youth in the program to learn about different cultures.
Teaching responsibility, community, and leadership is at the heart of Life Pieces To Masterpieces. Whether it be the youth involved in the curriculum or the adults who facilitate and lead Life Pieces ’s human development curriculum, everyone learns and benefits from the community that this program brings.