MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (April 10, 2018) – The Mount Vernon My Brother’s Keeper Alliance has begun a program of matching adult mentors in the community with mentees, high school students within the Mount Vernon City School District.
Recently, My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) held its first Mentor Match Mixer where eight mentors and eight mentees were paired based on their interests and information they provided. MBK will pair up eight new mentors with mentees every few weeks, until a total of about 100 Mount Vernon students are paired with 100 mentors.
“Matching kids with mentors is a tenet of our 44th president, Barack Obama, and his effort to help increase graduation rates and reduce illiteracy rates for men of color,” said Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton, Superintendent of the Mount Vernon City School District. “We are excited to install this program that we expect will have a dramatic impact on our young men for many years to come.”
In order to become a mentor, volunteers must pass a background check and meet certain criteria set forth by the District and MBK. The criteria include: an ability to listen and lead with compassion, and a commitment to seeing the mentoring cycle to completion. The initial cycle will last through at least June.
Together the mentors and mentees will have group meetings, one-on-one time, in-person meetings and phone conversations, and group recreational and education trips. Mentors will be available to offer academic assistance and guidance to students.
Mentor David Gardner met Mount Vernon High School senior John Davidson Jr. and his mother, Alethia Craddock at the first Mentor Match Mixer.
Gardner is retired from working as a Wall Street financial advisor for 25 years but still remains involved in the men’s ministry at Grace Baptist Church and has entrepreneurial businesses. He said he was raised mostly by his mother, so he understands the need for mentorship with young men. He was introduced to the mentoring program through William Mizell, a senior associate pastor at his church.
“It was an opportunity for me to fill a void, recognizing the importance of having a man in a young man’s life,” he said. “It gives me a sense of gratification and purpose, being somewhat fulfilled knowing that I have someone I can be partially responsible for, and at the same time, getting a better understanding of what the actual program does.”
Gardner felt there was an “immediate click” between he and John, and he hopes to be “just someone to talk to.”
John was introduced to the program through Brother Arthur Muhammad, the MBK liaison for the District. John, who was a member of the high school football team, anticipates attending Delaware State University in the fall for sports management.
Craddock said her son is mature for his age and he is someone to count on but she added that having a mentor in his life will have a long-term positive impact.
“Even though John just met Mr. Gardner, he did give John some positive insights from his experience in college and his work ethic,” she said. “So, I hope John will take something from that and carry it on through his life in terms of being responsible and making the right decisions.”
“This mentoring program will be tremendously valuable for strengthening our young men in our local high schools to ensure that they are not only academically successful, but successful in life,” said Muhammad.
My Brother’s Keeper, established by former President Obama, aims to ensure that the nation’s boys and young men of color have equal opportunity to achieve academic and social success and prosperity. The mission of the Mount Vernon MBK Alliance is to make the American dream available to all boys and young men of color as a priority, and to all students of the Mount Vernon City School District overall.
About the Mount Vernon City School District
With more than 8,000 students in 16 schools, the Mount Vernon City School District is committed to providing a quality education to its children as well as developing programs that meet the diverse academic and social needs of its students.