Mentors Rising To The Challenge

Research studies consistently reveal the positive impacts of establishing positive mentoring relationships. Attendance rates increase. Academic performance improves. Graduation rates rise. It’s not a secret any longer. Quite simply, mentoring works. One of the most promising and encouraging signs happening in Omaha is the number of citizens stepping up to become mentors – formally and informally. Residents from many walks of life are answering the call.

Over 600 Omaha Residents Answer the Call to Mentor
Six years ago, the Midlands Mentoring Partnership (MMP) was one of a number of organizations and initiatives launched by Building Bright Futures (BBF). Using the BBF Community Action plan as a guide and incorporating the results from a study conducted by the Great Omaha After School Alliance, it was determined that there were thousands of youth in need of mentors. An initial goal was set to recruit 3,000 additional mentors to work with youth in the city. The response has been tremendous.

Last year, MMP launched the first coordinated, city-wide recruitment effort. The results were inspiring. The campaign generated the interest of over 600. It was so successful, a second campaign was launched this year during the month of August. While the results are still preliminary, it appears that there were more than 640 engaged through the initial process.

MMP and their nine partner agencies are moving the dial in connecting youth in our community with caring adults. MMP is also partnering with the Omaha African-American Male Achievement Collaborative and North Omaha Cradle to Career Collaborative to specifically identify mentors for sixth graders in the targeted areas.

It’s not too late to become a mentor! To learn more about mentoring, please go to www.mmpomaha.org

300 African-American Men Step Up
In addition to the efforts of MMP, the 100 Black Men, Urban League of Nebraska, Revive! Omaha Magazine and the Empowerment Network formally launched an initiative to identify and recruit African-American men to become mentors, coaches and role models for African-American young men. Building on the four years of the successful Striving for Success: Black Male Summit and yearlong Omaha African-American Male Achievement Collaboration, a planning meeting was held in late June. Attendees included representatives from the lead agencies, churches, fraternities, Omaha Public Schools, community organizations and elected officials to set some initial goals and discuss various strategies.

The group agreed to hold a Strategic Gathering of African-American Men on Saturday, July 12 and a second meeting on July 31, 2014. The group was challenged to call for 300 African-American men to step up and become involved in the initiative. By the end of July, over 300 men had joined in on the effort. Over 200 had participated in the Strategic Gatherings and Planning Meetings. One hundred had completed the profile and 52 had expressed an interest in becoming mentors.

The group has set a target to increase from 300 to 700 African-American men within two months. The planning team members are working with Omaha Public Schools to coordinate partnerships with schools in the Empowerment Network’s North Omaha Village Zone target area and other buildings identified by the district. Those interested in mentoring have been referred to the 100 Black Men. They will finalize applications and walk those interested through background checks and other requirements. The Phase I projects have been identified and men are mobilizing into action. Beyond the mentoring, men have signed up to become greeters, coaches and role models. The men have also agreed to participate in the 5th Annual Striving for Success: Black Male Summit which brings together 200 African-American 9th grade young men and 50 plus African-American men for a day of role modeling, career exploration and man-to-man conversations.

African-American men interested in participating in the initiative can go to www.empoweromaha.com or call 402-502-5153 to join the movement.