Governor and Mrs. Richard W. Riley Award for Excellence in Dropout Prevention
The third annual Award was presented to Mr. Roger G. Owens, President of Save Our Sons, at a ceremony held on February 22, 2005.
Mr. Roger G. Owens is the President of Save Our Sons (SOS), a 501(c)3 organization he helped to start in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1993. A primary aim of SOS is to provide positive male role models for African-American young men whose fathers are absent. Another objective is to provide positive alternatives to incarceration-mentoring, drug courts, restitution, community service, and intensive counseling. This organization offers a diverse program of activities including mentoring, education and legal advocacy, counseling and guidance, motivational information, reading incentives, scholarships, field trips, sports, computer classes, etiquette and manners training. Most of the hundreds of young men who have enrolled in the program have improved their behavior. Eighty-five percent of the 7 to 14 year old young men enrolled who were assigned to SOS from the Family Court and remained for two years, have not been in further trouble. This is a highly successful recidivism rate of 15%. More than 25 young men have received SOS scholarships with approximately one half of those scholarships valued at $40,000 over four years. All recipients are very successful.
Mr. Owens, a former insurance executive with the Liberty Corporation, lives in Greenville with his wife, Dr. Emma Owens, a professor of education at Clemson University. They have a son, daughter, and two grandchildren. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Berea College in Kentucky. Mr. Owens serves on the deacon board of Reedy River Missionary Baptist Church, on Greenville’s Bi-Racial Task Force, and on the advisory council of the State Department of Education.