From High Risk to High Reward
Jeannette Simon, Director, Volunteer & Mentoring Services
Concerned Black Men National
January is Mentoring Month and that means a great deal to me as the Director of Concerned Black Men National’s CBM CARES® National Mentoring Initiative. As a mentoring professional for over 20 years, I understand the power of mentoring. In fact, I am absolutely pleased that our mentoring program supports boys of color throughout our nation. Our program is unique in that we focus specifically on middle school boys of color, offering them both group and one-to-one mentoring.
Serving on the Content Committee for Rumble Young Man Rumble, a Louisville, Kentucky based Black Male Achievement mentoring conference, enabled me to connect with advocates across the nation to support boys of color. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, at-risk children who have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college. Those are the kinds of figures we need for boys of color in high-risk underserved areas that lack credible support systems. The graduation rate for black boys is 56 percent, in comparison to 75 percent achieved by Asian/Caucasian counterparts. Those are figures that we can’t afford to ignore. Overall, Native American students have a 51 percent graduation rate, and Latin American students hover around 69 percent.
Not only does mentoring increase the likelihood of graduation for at-risk students, but it also improves a child’s relationship with his/her school. Our CBM CARES® mentoring program works to increase school attachment and reduce truancy. In a report released by the National Education Association (NEA), boys of color were more than three times as likely to be suspended or expelled as their counterparts. Additionally, Black and Hispanic boys make up more than 80 percent of students enrolled in special education classes. These are alarming facts that I believe we can change.
Mentoring offers boys of color the opportunity to have a listening ear and an advocate to help them navigate difficult adolescent issues. CBM CARES® specifically targets boys of color in middle school and we are able to provide in-school sessions that help improve self-esteem and correct negative youth behaviors.
This month, we are making a big push for mentors. We are teaming up with various mentoring organizations in the Washington, DC area and Fox 5 DC to find caring adults who want to make a positive impact in a child’s life regardless of race or gender. We will host a Mentoring Monday phone-a-thon to recruit mentors in February from 7:00 a.m. to noon. While many of the organizations we are partnering with are local—our scope is national. We have sites in Los Angeles and North Carolina, so we urge you to visit us online and apply to be a mentor in your city! There’s never been a better time to mentor. I hope you will join me and my colleagues as we champion the cause of children, by “Caring for Our Youth . . . ®”
Concerned Black Men National
CBM CARES® National Mentoring Initiative