"Future Little Rock Leaders" was this year's theme, and we were willing to provide meaningful opportunities for mentees to see and be inspired by influential Central Arkansans. The goal of the “100 S.M.A.R.T. Academy” mentoring program is to effectively mentor young men between the ages of 13-18 by providing them with guidance, support, and education. One of our chapter mottos is “real men giving real time,” and Greater Little Rock does that. 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.
During the eight week program, each mentee is guided through the SMART mentoring program with our chapter members. Take a look at some of the activities we provided in the 90-minute group mentoring sessions.
Week 1 – Introduction
Getting to know you! President Muskie Harris facilitated the Introduction of the S.M.A.R.T Academy. President Harris spoke to the parents/guardians about the program and answered every question asked. The mentees went with Marcus Johnson and Henry North, Ph.D. to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame to fellowship with each other. The mentees came back into the ballroom in height order where they introduced themselves to the audience. Several local community leaders told amazing stories of how they were successful, motivated, academically smart, respectful and trusted in the community. Muskie Harris discussed the pitfalls most football players experience at big colleges. The goal is to get a degree at the end of four or five years. Last, the mentees and parents learned how difficult it was to eat popcorn with chopsticks.
Week 2 – Success
On a cold and rainy Saturday, we were apart of the sold-out crowd of fans supporting the University of Arkansas Razorbacks versus the University of Mississippi at War Memorial Stadium. Ryan Williams, an Arkansas alumnus, and others talked to the mentees about collegiate success. Williams talked about how his education and sports career helped him to create a lucrative job in the sports industry. Other mentors were able to share their collegiate or military experience and what made it unique.
Week 3 – Motivation
Darnell Rice discussed how mental health plays a vital role in black men. Did you know African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population? Common mental health disorders among African Americans include: Major depression, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Suicide (among young African American men), and Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rice teaches at Shorter College and works with The Confess Project, a program 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. Lewis hopes to impact masses of young men across the world with his approach and innovative project. Rice spoke to the mentees about his life and the challenges he faced. Rice wanted the mentees to know that “one size does not fit all” approach does not help everyone. If a mentee needed help during the program (and after), he along with Lorenzo Lewis of The Confess Project could help.
Week 4 – Academics
This week, we collaborated with the Central Arkansas Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., to discuss academics and job interview skills. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is the largest predominately black sorority with more than 300,000 initiated college-educated women members. Delta Jo Thompson of Warren, Arkansas talked about leadership and development during her 20 years in Arkansas government. Thompson gave valuable tips to use during a job interview, and she discussed the M&M’s of success. The Delta’s collaborated with The 100 to show the mentees how to tie a tie.
Week 5 – Respect
The mentees went to the University of Central Arkansas homecoming football game versus Lamar University. During the bus ride to Conway, Wendell Scales discussed how he assists young men and women toward collegiate success at Lighthouse Academies Jacksonville. “It’s a big world, with a short period of time.” How motivated are you to use your time wisely? This week Wendell Scales focused on various types of motivation and how it can help you in your future career. Motivation is defined as the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something. Scales asked the young men what keeps them motivated? Some stated college, military, and athletics.
Week 6 – Trust
Division 10 Judge Joyce Warren of the Sixth Circuit of Arkansas came this week to talk about trust, respect and manhood development. Judge Warren was the first African American Woman to be a judge when she was state-appointed as a juvenile court judge in January 1983. Warren discussed some of the changes she helped implement like juvenile offenders wearing a blue polo shirt and khaki pants in court instead of the prison uniform. Warren discussed the process of attending law school and starting a legal career. With the recent events, she discussed how to interact with the police. Judge Warren inspired some of our mentees to pursue a career in the legal field.
Week 7 – Economic Development
Rush Harding, CEO of Crews and Associates, came to discuss stocks, bonds, and municipal funds. Crews and six other business professionals founded Crews and Associates in 1979. He oversees the affairs of both Crews and First Security Finance directly managing all sales and marketing efforts. Rus has been selling, and trading bonds since 1976 and is considered a leading authority on tax-exempt bonds, particularly in West Virginia and Arkansas. During this time Wendell Scales spoke of Finance and how to prepare for the future. We also further discussed entrepreneurial skills to create small businesses.
Week 8 – Responsibility
The 100 Black Men and 100 Academy members partner with the Greater Little Rock Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. during its annual Breakfast with Santa. We provide breakfast for children of all ages.