By Community Affairs reporter Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A national mentoring movement put down roots in Philadelphia this week.

“The crisis is deep among our sons and daughters,” says Susan Taylor, former editor in chief at Essence Magazine.

She started the National Cares Movement in 2005. The group links young people with mentors and has chapters all across the country.

While the organization has worked in the greater Philadelphia area in the past, this week the movement spread to Philadelphia with the launch of Southeastern Pennsylvania Cares.


“We are galvanizing the community to really lift the movement up,” says Taylor. “We already have the infrastructure, but now we have a team that will take your breath away. They are young, they are focused, they are passionate and they have so many skills.”

But there is a problem. There is a desperate need in the African American community for youth mentors, but few African American volunteers step up.

“When the call goes out for mentors the first responders are white women and then white men and then black women and then black men,” says Taylor. “We need professional African Americans to show our kids who they could be.”

Taylor says many mentees go on to college and defy statistics, citing the mentoring relationship as the catalyst that changed their life.

“Most people think they’ll have to put in too much time,” says Andrea Lawful Trainer, chair of SEPA Cares, when asked why there are so few mentors of color. “But we are only asking for one hour a week. And if you don’t want to do the one-on-one mentoring, group mentoring is an option as well.”

In his 20s, Alex Peay started his own non-profit, Rising Sons, a few years ago. He says his mentors helped lift him up and he wants to pay it forward.

“When you do something that you are passionate about, your labor will bear fruit,” says Peay. “People don’t realize mentoring is life-changing not just for yourself, but for the people you mentor as well.”

The Black Male Development Symposium and United Way have partnered with SEPA Cares, but other organizations are welcome.

If you would like to mentor or become a mentee text 267-847-4203 with a phone number and email address or visit