Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement


Mentors help Rising scholars navigate O’Dea High School

This fall, former Rising scholar August entered ninth grade at O’Dea High School, a private all-boys college preparatory school in Seattle. Besides focusing on his studies, August plays on the basketball team and is looking forward to starting track and field in the spring.

August is one of four Rising scholars currently attending O’Dea and the only one who participated in The Rising at Denny International Middle School. Rasaan, Breylon and Julian were part of The Rising program at Meany and are also nine graders at O’Dea. Their success is the result of a community of caring and dedicated individuals.

Take August, for example. For two years, he worked hard in The Rising at Denny International Middle School, taking advantage of its tutorial program. His progress was supported by two Rising mentors, Jeff Forge and Gregory Banks. Their interest and August’s determination made all the difference. As Lucas Dobbs, vice principal at O’Dea, said recently: “August’s hard work, dedication to his community, diligent efforts with his studies and leadership skills made O’Dea possible for him as a next step in his journey.”

Slightly more than half of the student body at O’Dea is white; Black students comprise about 16%. Considering these demographics, it was challenging for August to establish friendships with some of the other students.

To help, Seattle CARES reached out to another O’Dea alum, an individual who went on to earn a doctoral degree, to mentor August during his freshman year. The two hit it off. They have pep talks frequently on Zoom and August is feeling more comfortable in the O’Dea environment.

In fact, his story was so inspirational he was selected to be part of a new video produced by National CARES Mentoring Movement. The film crew traveled to Seattle this past December and spent two days filming Rising scholars, mentors, educators, parents and staff from Seattle CARES. Read more here.

The four Rising scholars at O’Dea know their studies are preparing them not only for college but for the rest of their lives. They should be incredibly proud of their achievements, and we know their futures will be bright.





Seattle CARES plays key role in national video

Seattle CARES is one of three affiliate programs selected to be part of a new video produced by the National CARES Mentoring Movement in New York. The film crew traveled to Seattle in December, spending two days taping segments with mentors, students, parents, Seattle Public School educators and Seattle CARES staff.

Filming locations were at O’Dea High School, Denny International Middle School and Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.

During the taping, two mentors, Christian Love (left) and Greg Banks, spoke about their involvement in the program and their passion for mentoring. Two former Rising students were also interviewed: August, now a ninth-grader at O’Dea High School, and Zack, who goes to Garfield High School (below, right).

Denny Principal Jeff Clark and Assistant Principal Mawiayah Fields shared their comments on-camera, as well. Both have been long-term supporters of The Rising program at their school.

Single mother Tigest Beyene, an enthusiastic participant in the Wellness Community Circles, shared her thoughts about the importance of the Circles and how they provide a safe, judgment-free space for single moms trying to become better parents.

The new video will premiere in late February at the National CARES gala event in New York, “For the Love of the Children.” After that, it can be viewed on the National CARES website. More details about the production will be posted as soon as they are available. The video also includes inspirational stories from CARES affiliates in Atlanta and Detroit.

Wellness Circles offer a safe place for women to speak out

Eight years ago, Tigest Beyene’s life hung in the balance — literally. After she broke up with her boyfriend of three years, he began to harass her. The situation got increasingly worse. In September 2013, he chased her down in his car, shot her in the stomach and then turned the gun on himself.

The former Highline High School graduate recovered physically and today she is the mother of two girls. Recently, a guidance counselor at her daughter’s school recommended she join a Community Wellness Circle, a program for parents, especially moms and female caregivers, sponsored by Seattle CARES and funded through King County’s Positive Family Connections.

“The teacher thought I would fit in,” she said, “and he sent me information on the program. I truly feel blessed to be part of such a strong group of women. My life has changed for the better. I am more aware of who I am and who I am becoming.”

Community Wellness Circles provide a safe healing space for parents. The program focuses on teaching the building blocks that make up a healthy quality life, emphasizing parenting, conflict-resolution and empowerment skills. Facilitators also provide connections for services for adults who may be experiencing food and housing insecurities, have health care issues, or need computers or other tech assistance.

Beyene appreciates how other women in the group listen to her, provide helpful comments and share their own experiences. ”The most valuable part of the Wellness Circle is the incredible women,” she said. “There is no judgment; it’s a safe zone. It reminds me that I am not alone.”

By participating, she has learned how to better manage stress and be a better parent to her daughters. She also has learned how to better manage her money. She is now saving to buy a home.

“The meetings help me be more self-aware, enjoy myself and laugh more with my kids,” she said. “My favorite part is when we get into our group sessions and we get to express about our day. This has really helped me be a better listener and have more patience, even at work.”

New webinar series “Voices for Change” launches January 25 with speaker Fonda Bryant

“Voices for Change,” a new six-month online series from Seattle CARES, launches this month. January’s speaker is Fonda Bryant, a nationally recognized expert on mental wellness and recovery. Her virtual presentation will be on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Bryant has appeared on television, in newspapers and magazines, and on the radio speaking about mental health and her transformative suicide prevention training. Last year, she trained more than 1,000 people from 25 states and five countries in ways to recognize a person in crisis and how to save a life.  In 2021, she was named the 2021 Remarkable Woman of Charlotte (N.C.) and also won Nexstar’s National Remarkable Woman for her work with mental health and suicide prevention.

“Voices for Change” augments one of Seattle CARES’ signature programs — Wellness Community Circles — which helps Black families, particularly those led by single women, improve their relationship with their children and provides a safe space where adults who want to parent more effectively can de-stress, share challenges and work on healing themselves.

Every month through June, the series will welcome speakers on a variety of topics to help the community navigate our challenging lives and our changing communities.  The online series is supported by King County’s Positive Family Connections.

For more information or to register for this event, contact

Positive Family Connections offers online digital literacy class

Life is full of changes for children, youth and families. It’s been made even more challenging with the arrival of the pandemic in early 2020. COVID-19 has greatly impacted the health and economic well being of our community.

Through Positive Family Connections, funded by King County Best Starts for Kids, Seattle CARES offers support services to women, most of whom are single mothers or guardians of children participating in The Rising. Through Wellness Circles, we offer a space where moms can de-stress, share problems and work on healing themselves. CARES-trained facilitators emphasize positive parenting skills, conflict-resolution and empowerment skills.

A new pilot program that began this fall increases services to our families. We are now offering an online digital literacy class where parents can learn how to navigate the web, download software, and find, use and create information online. The class is part of University for Parents and is being offered in partnership with Atlanta CARES. More classes will be offered next year, based on parent requests.

By strengthening the family through education and professional literacy, Positive Family Connections can improve relationships between youth and their parents or guardians.

We’ll be sharing more stories about Positive Family Connections in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!