CHICAGO — Stanley Coleman Jr. said he didn’t know a thing about fashion, but when his students expressed interest in fashion and runway modeling, he decided to learn.
He hosted fashion shows for Chicago area teens, while awarding scholarships in the process
Coleman is is one of Chicago’s Very Own.
In 2014 when Chicago’s South Shore International High School students asked their program director for a lesson in fashion modeling, Coleman said he had some homework to do.
“I knew iI needed to get up to speed if that’s what the students want,” he said. “That’s my job essentially as an educator.”
As he began hosting fashion shows, Coleman said his students developed a newfound confidence.
“Just that center of attention that spotlight ability and I also learned along the way a self-esteem component as well,” he said.
In 2017 Coleman founded SCJR Productions LLC. — a charity organization that provides 22 afterschool programs including Fashion 101 for teens around the Chicago area.
“If you can do a solo walk, or a doubles walk, or a routine in general in front of a packed house, in front of screaming fans then you can do anything,” Coleman said.
Former student Zaria Griffith is a biology major but said learning the runway gave her a confidence boost.
“By me wanting to be in the medical field as a woman you have to have confidence that I know what I’m doing and I can’t let other people dictate how I work,” she said.
In 2017, Griffith was the recipient of a $2,000 college scholarship awarded by the charity after winning the programs essay writing competition.
Since its inception, SCJR Productions has awarded more than $150,000 in college scholarships with more than 50 individual scholarships awarded in the last two years alone. Eric Osaro joined for the scholarship opportunity.
“I think it’s helped me because one of the scholarship money, and also it’s basically being comfortable being on stage and like public speaking,” he said.
Funding these scholarships is no easy task. With Hyde Park clothing store Dearborn Denim donating their site for many of the fashion shows, Coleman has successfully solicited donations and guest appearances from celebrities. Those celebrities included former Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon and former first lady Michelle Obama.
“Nobody is obligated to pick up my calls,” Coleman said. “It’s just a God blessing to have such organization and such individuals galvanize our effort to sent our future leaders to college.”
Coleman said he hopes the confidence, energy and self-esteem students experienced in his modeling program will be woven into the fabric of who they become.
“I want he or she to become the next Supreme Court justice,” he said. “I want them to perhaps be the next president of the United States, the next business entrepreneur.”
For more information about the programs visit scjrproductions.org.