By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia non-profit that provides electronic mentoring for urban youth releases a new how-to-guide Thursday on its groundbreaking method for serving at-risk boys.
They use modules embedded in the social media platform LinkedIn and tie popular sports and entertainment figures like Jay-Z to lessons to teach young men the path to success.
“You have to meet the kids where they are, which is on social media,” says Michelle Martin. She works with Urban Youth, an organization born out of Urban Youth Racing School that mentored kids through auto racing.
Three years ago, they launched an e-mentoring program with the help of a $500,000 Knight Foundation grant and technical assistance from United Way. After experimenting with best practices, they are sharing what they learned about recruiting mentors, mentees and developing content so other non-profits can follow suit.
“Right now, even at the Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers Big Sisters, a lot of our Black boys are without mentors because the organizations can’t find any,” says Martin, “e-mentoring makes it that much easier.”
So far, Urban Youth has connected 200 mentees to 100 mentors online.
“We found that a lot of the men didn’t think they were successful enough to be a mentor,” says Martin, “but we’ve learned how to hold events, bring in the men regardless of their professional or blue-collar background, to help mentor our African American boys.”
They’ll talk more about it in a panel Thursday night moderated by Soledad O’Brien at the School of The Future, 4021 Parkside Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104 at 4pm.
For more information, go to www.uyrs.com.
Follow Cherri Gregg on Twitter @cherrigregg