By Cori Lucas,
“A lot of times, younger youth—they look up to older youth, indirectly and sometimes directly. But they feed off everything they observe.”
Servant Director Alphonso Mayo used this idea as his foundation when he founded Mentoring Mentors in 2014. Mentoring Mentors is an organization that connects Baltimore’s youth with the neighboring generation—where adults and college students mentor high school kids, and high schoolers mentor the middle schoolers—in a strategy they refer to as the “Near-to-Peer” intergenerational model. Youth learn to be mentors and leaders to the younger generation and form meaningful relationships across generations and the community. The mentors are also tasked with holding mentees accountable for their lives, community, education, and dreams. Alphonso firmly believes that “lack of responsibility is bigger than lack of education”. In that spirit, Mentoring Mentors works to address trauma positively—viewing trauma not as a crutch, but as “an obstacle that leads to growth”.
Alfonso has always had a passion for serving youth. From the time a group of first and second graders taught him how to read, he’s seen the incredible impact mentorship can have on a person’s life. Upon spending time as mentor and football coach, Alfonso discovered several issues with the mentoring systems in Baltimore. Namely, the lack of male presence in programs predominantly occupied by boys, the mentorship journey’s abrupt end when mentees turn 18, and the fact that existing programs didn’t prioritize instilling the enriching desire to mentor and serve others and the community. “Leaders are servants first.” With these ideas in mind and his own core principles in heart, he established Mentoring Mentors.
With the funding and resources necessary to maximize Mentoring Mentor’s outreach, Alfonso would establish an independent, leadership school outside of Baltimore City for Black youth. By placing his school outside Baltimore, he believes would provide a healthier environment away from negative influences and peers where his students can flourish to their maximum potential. He and his team would be “serving thousands of students and those students [would be] serving thousands of students”. The school would be complete with transportation vehicles and technology systems. His ultimate goal is that students leave his school with not only a great education but “empathy skills, where when they see other people that look like them they see their brother, they see the God in them, they see a friend, they see somebody that they should be serving versus killing or hurting.”
Since its conception, Mentoring Mentors has changed the trajectory of nearly 200 Black futures. They serve youth ages 11 through 18. To donate to Mentoring Mentor’s ambitious future or to learn more visit them at cllctivly.org/listing/mentoring-mentors or follow them @mentoring_mentors.
All February, we’re honoring a few of the many Black leaders in our community making history every day with #28DaysofBlackFutures.
This is a crowdfunding and narrative power campaign that amplifies and mobilizes resources for Black-led organizations serving Greater Baltimore.
Throughout the month, we will highlight 28 dedicated Black leaders and organizations on the ground creating programs and initiatives that drive health, wealth, safety, and culture in #Baltimore.
Let’s CELEBRATE these changemakers and SUPPORT their work! Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of this campaign.
Head over to 28DaysofBlackfutures.org to donate today! ❤️🖤💚
Let’s show up BIG for our Black leaders and their organizations!