For 13 years, a Maryland organization has been helping boys who don’t have a positive male figure in their lives.
“We call it a village because we know it takes a village to raise a strong young person, you know, girls or boys,” said Daon Johnson, program director for the non-profit Community Youth Advance.
Its Mentoring to Manhood program has helped kids at risk of falling through the cracks realize their full potential.
“I like that you can get your grades up,” 13-year-old Daniel said. “It helps you with your grades; it helps you be more respectful.”
Daniel and his mentor, Joel, spend time shooting hoops or just talking about how their week went. They also work on homework and making sure Daniel is doing well in school
“So I look at myself as being that person that can encourage them … to help them see their gifts and how to apply those and how to develop in their lives,” Joel said.
Mentoring to Manhood focuses on boys ages 12 to 18, which is believed to be a make-or-break time in a young man’s life.
“So we want to make sure that we get them at that age where they are moldable, and then once we start to mold into that first step, that foundation of a young man,” Assistant Director of Mentorship Kevin Robbs said.
The program is set up around four principals of manhood.
“The first one will be accept reasonability, second would be reject passivity, third is lead courageously, and then the last one is live eternally,” Johnson said.
Every lesson and activity is built around those principals
“The secret sauce is helping a kid understand that there’s something really powerful in you,” Community Youth Advance founder Rob Malone said.
“It makes me feel like I know if I fail or if I don’t succeed, he’ll always be there to help me back up and help me get better,” Daniel said.
The NBC Universal Foundation gave a grant to Mentoring to Manhood several years ago.
Now, it’s up for another one. It’s the only program in the area nominated. You can find out how to vote for them on the Community Youth Advance Facebook page.
Reported by Leon Harris, produced by Michelle Rivera and edited by Scott Eisenhuth.