Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement

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Mentor Spotlight: Phillip Bailey

Phillip Bailey has been a mentor with Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement for nearly a year and sees it as a way to give back to his community. He is currently mentoring two brothers who attend Meany Middle School and was recruited through our partner organization, the 4C Coalition. The brothers’ family had been homeless for nearly two years, sleeping in a van. Once that fact was known, Seattle CARES provided clothes and supplies and advocated with King County to get them into housing.

Bailey is the founder and executive director of WorldWide BBMC, a social and human services organization that supports students and parents academically and financially. We talked to him recently about mentoring.

Why did you become a mentor?

I became a mentor to give back to young Black men. I can relate to the kids because I was one of them. I want to see forward progress for young Black males coming up in this era.

What do you like most about mentoring?

I like the connection I get between myself and the mentees I serve. I like to witness how they are growing and maturing. I love seeing them thrive, and I enjoy being part of the bigger picture. The one thing that surprised me most about being a mentor is seeing how these young scholars use the principles they are learning to overcome obstacles in their lives.

Can mentoring help youth better deal with today’s political and racial tensions?

I can relate to these young men. I see a connection between them being young African American males and my own kids. Living in some of the same neighborhoods where my mentees come from, I am going through some of the same things that these kids are dealing with, such as being the only Black male in my cohort at Seattle University and dealing with racial issues.

How do you talk about today’s issues with The Rising scholars?

I keep it real and relatable. I talk to them just as I would talk to my own kids. I use scenarios to play out certain situations and then I go further when it’s needed to help expand the conversation.

Describe being a mentor in three words.

Caring, reliable, invested.

 

Seattle CARES receives youth development grant from School’s Out Washington and Washington state

Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement recently received a grant from the Washington Youth Development Nonprofit Relief Fund, administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce and School’s Out Washington.

The grant acknowledges the financial and programmatic challenges faced by Seattle CARES and other youth development organizations during the coronavirus pandemic. Not only did Seattle CARES have to move quickly during the spring of 2020 to adapt its youth mentoring program, The Rising, to an online platform when Seattle Public Schools closed its in-person classes, but it also had to arrange for laptops and computers for youth who did not have them and help families get internet access.

“We reached out to our community partners to supply computer equipment, financial and technical support,” said Seattle CARES Executive Director Don Cameron. “If families needed rent support or food, we linked them up with agencies that could help. We were determined not to let our students or families down.”

When the school year resumed in September, Seattle CARES added a weekly online tutoring session to provide The Rising students with additional support in math, science and language arts as well as provide tips on how to study more productively and how to take tests. The Rising is a three-year mentoring program for boys enrolled in Denny International and Meany middle schools.

Seattle CARES goes beyond just serving youth; it also reaches brothers and sisters and parents, too. For families with older children struggling academically or socially, Seattle CARES now offers an online high school group-mentoring program that meets twice a month and targets young men and women in grades 8-12. Regular wellness circles to support moms, dads or other family members are offered remotely, as well.

In all, the Washington Youth Development Nonprofit Relief Fund awarded $9.4 million to 421 youth development organizations across the state, focusing on groups that serve priority and at-risk populations. Award amounts ranged from $10,000 to $50,000.

 

 

New tutoring sessions with The Rising program fulfills student needs

This week, Seattle CARES and some of its partner agencies are launching tutoring sessions for core subject areas for students in its Rising program, a three-year group mentoring program that works with about 45 boys enrolled at Meany and Denny International middle schools.

Tutoring is one of the additional services young people themselves say they need, particularly during the pandemic, according to a recent article in The Seattle Times. In the Road Map Project, a youth-led survey to improve education in South King County, The SeattleTimes reports that students requested tutors, more individualized learning opportunities and more support from adults they trust – all elements of The Rising program.

Read the full Seattle Times article.

Superhero curriculum inspires The Rising scholars

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Seattle Public Schools to close, Seattle CARES had to move quickly to transition The Rising mentoring program at Denny International and Meany middle schools to online formats.

But the virtual environment posed a new set of challenges for Seattle CARES: How to keep the students engaged. The Rising team reached out to the scholars for ideas.

One idea that sparked interest among both mentors and scholars was to create superhero stories and images.The mentors quickly realized the potential of this creative exercise and decided to make it a centerpiece of the online program.

In the beginning, the mentors worked with the scholars to stimulate creative work. Each scholar was asked to come up with a superhero version of himself; each group worked together to create a narrative.

Through local contacts, Seattle CARES reached out to a group of nationally established comic book artists and writers who volunteered to help the scholars and mentors bring their ideas into shape. There was not enough time to create a complete graphic novel but a series of short stories, one for each group, was definitely doable.

The superhero characters were adapted from movies, cartoons and comics but each scholar introduced his own personal elements. The stories they crafted reflected their concerns – whether it was the COVID-19 pandemic or rising police violence. All these issues were folded into discussions of the stories along with the personal dramas that the mentors and scholars discuss regularly.

Working on the superhero stories provided an outlet to explore tensions. The creative consultants saw how the ideas and thought processes of the scholars made their creations vivid and rich. As the program ended, the scholars were encouraged to introduce as much of themselves as possible into their chosen hero-templates.

“We wanted to stretch their imaginations, to empower them,” said Seattle CARES director Don Cameron. “We wanted to show them that change can happen if they work hard and think positively.”

The students met the challenge with imagination and truthfulness. Their project was made into a PowerPoint presentation that was shared with each groups and the organization at the end of the program.

This groundbreaking model has potential for broader use. Creative group interaction is incredibly useful to engage scholars’ interest in an online mentoring setting. With the guidance of their mentors and consultants, the scholars built something that could resonate well beyond the program’s end.

Greg Banks: Seattle CARES Mentor since 2017

Greg Banks has been a Seattle CARES mentor since we launched Our Best in 2017. Employed in health care, Banks was one of the first men we recruited into Our Best and one of the first to complete mentor orientation and training.

Banks transitioned to The Rising program two years ago where he mentors a 13-year-old enrolled at Meany Middle School. The young man, who lives with his grandmother in the Central District, has seen more than his share of tragedy. Although his mentee was reluctant to open up at first, Banks persisted and today the two have formed a close friendship.

Along with Banks participation as a mentor, the Seattle CARES team advocated for the family, finding community partners to help pay rent and utility bills. We talked to Banks recently about mentoring.

Why did you become a mentor? I was a troubled youth and there was no one to help me make difficult decisions. My father died when I was 16 years old and I felt so lonely after that.

What do you like most about mentoring? I enjoy building strong relationships with young people. Today’s youth want the same thing I wanted when I was their age: To have someone who is there for them. They want a man who accepts them for who they are. I find it surprising that with all our technology, what a young man wants most is to be loved.

Can mentoring help youth better deal with today’s political and racial tensions? There is a lot going on in the world today, from police abuse to a global pandemic. Being able to talk with someone about these things can be life-changing.

How do you talk about these issues with The Rising scholars? During our Rising sessions, we ask the young men to talk about how they feel, what they’ve seen and heard. Then we ask: If you were an adult, what would you do? How would you change things? It gives them a chance to talk about what is going on without being judged. Some ask questions, many talk about their fears. The mentors share their experiences, as well. We tell them the most important thing is to make it home each day. If you are stopped by the police, do everything they ask you to do. It is better we pick you up from the police station under the wrong circumstances than to have to identify you at the morgue.

Describe being a mentor in three words. Rewarding, fulfilling, commitment.