During the past nine weeks, the 100 Black Men of Greater Little Rock, Inc. sponsored the “100 Academy” mentoring program that provided educational support programs and services, along with individual and group instruction, tutoring, and mentoring. The aim of the “100 Academy” is to effectively mentor young men between the ages of 13-17 providing them with guidance, support, and education. The program is designed to improve the self-esteem and self-efficacy of mentees by granting them access to chapter members and their life experiences.
The mentees participated in 90 minute group mentoring sessions with our chapter members that were designed to improve or develop student capabilities. Our chapter guided each mentee through the SMART mentoring program, which stands for stand for S= Success, M= Motivation, A= Academics, R= Respect, T= Trust. Last year, we became SMARTer additionally focusing on Economic Development and Responsibility.
The first week was an introduction with Kenneth “Muskie” Harris, Chapter President where he used his expertise in rehab services specifically with men with first-time alcohol and substance abuse arrests. Harris discussed how young black men can excel in the current climate and stay out of the system. One exercise, “Do you have time for me” allowed the young men have to communicate with each other, the 100 members and parents. The second week focused on success and how it’s measured. 100 Member Lorenzo Lewis operates The Confess Project which focuses on Mental Health Awareness facilitated this week. The Confess Project is an innovative experience that is intended to expose other marginalized males to coping methods and teach soft skills that will lead to them to a more powerful presence in society. He hopes to impact masses of young men across the world with his approach and innovative project. The young men and mentors developed a five-year plan that identified the skills required to complete our goals including graduating from high school, going to college and getting your dream job.
Motivation was heavily advocated during week three where we discussed how it can help you in your future career. Wendell Scales, a 100 Member, used his experience as Director of College and Career Advising at Lighthouse Academies and former Guidance Counselor at eStem Charter High School to discuss how to stay motivated in high school specifically by discussing your expectations with your parents. Remain motivated to use your time wisely and discus future plans like the military and higher education. Later in the afternoon, the young men were excited to attend the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff vs. Southern University at Baton Rouge football game at War Memorial Stadium. This year Academics focused on urban farming and entrepreneurship. Scott Allen with the Arkansas Children’s Hospital gave us a tour of their community garden and how it helps the hospital and the community. Henry North used this time to show the young men how to start a business from growing your own food. Week six was dedicated to Respect and we visited the Pulaski County Detention Center. The tour featured conversations with officers as well as discussing the many careers in law enforcement. During this trip, Kenneth “Muskie” Harris discussed how he helps to rehabilitate former offenders. We pointed out that a wide variety of people work in law enforcement including several Physicians and Pharmacists are employed in the infirmary.
Week seven defined Trust as confidence placed in a person by making that person the nominal owner of property to be held or used for the benefit of one or more other. Our goal was to build a young man’s confidence to trust us and others. We identified and discussed upstanding citizens in the community. To encourage young men, we use “the mask” exercise to discuss our feelings and address what we hide from others. Later we were able to tailgate and see the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff vs. Texas Southern University football game at War Memorial Stadium.
The –er added this year to focus on Economic Development and week eight was entitled “Show me the Money.” Finance and Financial Planning is of importance to developing young men. This week, 100 Member Anthony Robinson with Northwestern Mutual addressed the 100 Academy members on the stock market and the benefits of life insurance. Virgil Miller, Community Reinvestment Act director at Arvest Bank and 100 Member, discussed some tips he learned during his many years in banking and how the young men should start investing early. Responsibility was the charge in week nine where the 100 Black Men and 100 Academy members partnered with the Greater Little Rock Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. during its annual Breakfast with Santa. Our goal is to develop leadership within the young men to prepare breakfast. This experience is a fun opportunity to provide a warm Christmas to many less fortunate children. This has been an exciting time for the 100 Black Men of Greater Little Rock and we will celebrate the young men at our annual Christmas Gala on Friday December 15, 2017 at the Doubletree Hotel in Little Rock. Tickets are $60 and available on our website.