As an emerging education entrepreneur and social justice student, Vincent E. Cobb II speaks with deep conviction about his faith, the challenges faced by inner-city youth, and his commitment to empowering them through education. “My strongest passion is for the community,” he says. “I feel that’s where my calling is.”
A recent Syracuse University graduate (MS.Ed) ’13, Cobb is the oldest of four children and is the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. He credits his parents (his father, Vincent E. Cobb, is an instructional technology analyst at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University) with instilling in him the importance of education and family. He also cites his home church, the Greater Evangelical Church of God in Christ, and his pastor and godfather, the Rev. Kenneth Reed, with inspiring him to have the faith and determination to take on challenges. “I have to be challenged in some way to feel I have progressed,” Cobb says.
Cobb is an Education Pioneer alum’ 13 where he served as an intern for the Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC engaging stakeholders in a comprehensive workforce readiness plan for alternative and displaced school students. He also authored and presented a Parent and Community roll out strategy to the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson on the district wide lottery system for families while investing and leveraging the support of Ward community leaders in the process. In 2014, Cobb moved to Philadelphia, PA to serve as the Regional Manager of Community and School Partnerships with a specialty focus on Black Male Achievement at Teach For America, Greater Philadelphia. He founded and launched the region’s Black Male Achievement (BMA) Symposium in partnership with an all boys school– Boys Latin High School in West Philadelphia. Through the BMA Symposium, Cobb created a strong demand for continued supports at the high school on black male issues leading to the conception of Black Male Educator Convenings (BMEC) to further inspire career pathways to teacher leadership and supports for prospective and current black male educators. In 2015, BMEC found its home and launched with The Fellowship– a mentoring group of 17 top educators led and founded by Shoemaker Principal, Sharif El-Mekki. Currently, Cobb leads district wide Family & Community initiatives for the Mastery Charter Schools network with 4 school campuses in North Philadelphia.
Cobb’s other accomplishments include organizing annual student benefit concerts featuring Grammy award winning artists and singers to provide scholarship support for college students, founding a $500,000 community fund for neighborhood out of school supports for K-12 students through the Say Yes to Education Foundation. Mr. Cobb has also spoken to many audiences including at SU’s annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and helped organize the 2004 Hip-Hop Summit, which brought entrepreneur Russell Simmons and his message of youth empowerment to the Syracuse Carrier Dome. The experiences helped Cobb lay the groundwork for Empowering Minds (EM), an SU student organization he co-founded in college. Dedicated to inspiring inner-city youth to pursue higher education, today EM still hosts an annual all-day conference at Syracuse University for area high school students that explores education, leadership, civic engagement, and other issues. Past guest speakers have included such television personalities as BET’s “Cousin Jeff” Johnson and ESPN’s Steven A. Smith and many other high profile guests.
“We want to give these kids a sense of who they can be,” Cobb says. “They really want the opportunity to go to college and do well in life, but don’t think it’s possible because of their backgrounds and where they come from, so it’s a huge responsibility for us to convey the message that college is an option for them.”