On Education, Mentorship and Black Youth
By Avery Oliver
Many barriers make it challenging to paint a clear picture of success for Black youth. Racism, classism, and white supremacy harm Black children’s success. Fortunately, there are ways to combat that, and not just empower Black Youth but put them on paths of success that will lead to more opportunities in life.
When coupled, avenues such as education and mentorship offer a chance for Black youth to strive for achievement and open the door to future opportunities.
For that to happen, however, the educational system and mentorship programs must accurately mirror the Black youth they are attempting to empower. The key to successful education and mentorship programs among Black youth lies in the hands of Black mentors and educators.
For many Black students, their first instances of racism are experienced in the classroom. When racism in school systems goes unchecked, this can very quickly hinder a student’s ability to learn and succeed in their educational journey. This also erects barriers in later parts of their lives.
Inevitably, this positively impacts Black students during their educational journey, both in the classroom and, eventually, when walking across the stage. The graduation rate for Black students, as of 2020, has risen 88%, with more Black students obtaining diplomas and graduating high school. While many factors are responsible for this, prioritizing Black educators has undoubtedly impacted Black youth.
This impact is extended when formal mentorship is introduced and sustained in a student’s life.
Mentorship programs centered on Black youth build the foundation for empowerment and future success. They need to know they are not alone and that there is value and power in being Black. Mentorship programs aid in centering this importance of Black identity, individual expression, and community upliftment.
Black youth mentorship programs have been proven to be essential to the growth and success of the youth in our community, helping Black children feel seen and grow to be respectable leaders among their peers.
Here are a few Black mentorship programs that you should follow.
National Urban League – Project Ready Mentor https://nul.org/program/project-ready-mentor
Project Ready Mentor helps students progress academically and intellectually, benefit from enrichment opportunities, and develop essential skills, attitudes, and aptitudes that position them for success during and after high school.
The OK Program
Since 1990, The OK Program has been recruiting, training, and organizing black men to mentor black boys.
Black Girls Rock
BLACK GIRLS ROCK!® (BGR) is a global women’s empowerment movement and multifaceted media, entertainment, philanthropic and lifestyle brand dedicated to inspiring and celebrating women and girls of color
The National Coalition of Black Women
The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. (NCBW) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization whose mission is to advocate on behalf of black women and girls to promote leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education, and economic empowerment.
Mentoring Brothers in Action, a Black Fraternity-led mentorship organization, that prioritizes the connection and relationship between Black youths and mentors from Black fraternities
OK Program, empowers Black youth by establishing community-focused relationships between young Black boys and institutions like police agencies, schools, and cities.
Pretty Brown Girl, created by Sheri and Corey Crawley is an educational and youth program centered around uplifting the needs of Black girls, and teaching them to feel empowered in their gifts, talents, and in educational settings.
Common Ground, another educational-focused program, is a foundation created by author Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., that focuses on aiding Black youths in inner-city Chicago. This foundation also implements initiatives that aid the inner city and Southside Chicago school systems using resources, education, mentorship, and college preparation.
Girl Trek and Girls for Gender Equality, are both Black women and girl-centric mentorship programs that highlight the specific issues and obstacles Black girls face. Girl Trek focuses on empowering Black girls and women through health awareness and physical activity, in addition to research focusing on reclaiming green spaces and finding safe places for Black women to exercise.
At a time that may be extremely difficult for Black kids in America, mentorship programs reminding our children that they are capable and intelligent serve as a form of empowerment.
These programs and many like them are still needed now more than ever for both Black boys and girls.
Supporting Black educators and focusing on Black mentorship programs for our youth gives our children a sense of value and belonging. In a community where we face a particular form of oppression, empowering our youth must be done in ways that ensure that their needs are met and that they are taught to understand that they are more than what the news and media often portray them to be.