(L to R) Joshua Thomas of the Brotherhood Crusade and Brian Broughton of BET participating in the mentoring program (Photo Credit: PETER FENTY)
Brotherhood Crusade and BET conduct a joint mentoring program to give youths guidance and exposure to professionals in the world of work, which many of them will be entering in a few, short years.
Brotherhood Crusade, BET Networks and several partners recently wrapped the first phase of a 5-month pilot program that matched 17 Brotherhood Crusade youths with more than a dozen BET executives.
“Mentorship programs give young people blueprints for success,” said Brian Broughton, associate general counsel for BET, who served as one of the mentors. He said that he wanted to participate in the project because of the guidance he received early on in life, including the support of a judge who helped him grow confident in his dream to pursue a career in law.
In their last meeting of the program, Lisa Fowler, director of Human Resources & Talent Management for BET, and her mentee, Tiffany Williams, went over a list of pointers that Fowler wanted to make sure Williams, 13, remembered. Many had to do with self-discipline and strategies for avoiding conflict. But the last piece of advice was something Fowler, who remembers being a young teenaged girl, had to discover for herself:
“It’s okay to be—”
“Smart,” Williams responded, proving that she had gotten the lesson.
Fowler's colleague, Keith Wooten, who works in BET’s Original Programming Department, and his mentee, Depri Parks, 16, stood in one of the network's hallways, recapping the time they’d spent getting to know each other. Wooten said that he believed their paths had crossed for a reason: “This is someone that I hope years from now still comes to me for advice,” he said.
When asked what he hoped to impart to his mentee, Wooten paused to give it thought, while Parks spoke right up:
[He taught me about] having integrity, having good morals, trying to be responsible and not wasting time. If you have enough time, you can always do something that will better your life now and in the future.”
Wooten looked on with pride.
“And be confident,” Wooten said.
“And be confident,” Parks echoed. They both smiled.
Nathan J. Sessoms, PhD, who was one of the Brotherhood Crusade organizers of the program, said that it was a big hit with all the teens who participated.
“We talk with our youths almost everyday, and they are always anxious to come back and speak with their mentors… Here’s this new person that they really want to get to know. They’re anxious and nervous, and it helps when the mentors express the same things about [meeting with the] the youth.”
Aside from Brotherhood Crusade and BET, the program's partners include EXPO Center, represented by Belinda Jackson; LA’s Promise, which operates Manual Arts and West Adams High Schools under the direction of president and CEO Veronica Melvin; Amazing Grace Conservatory, founded by actress Wendy Raquel Robinson; Engaging Men, a Brotherhood Crusade/Peace Over Violence/Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinics collaboration to enlist men in preventing violence against women; and Los Angeles CARES Mentoring Movement, an affiliate of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, founded by Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence magazine.
Barbara Perkins, who is executive director of L. A. CARES, said that the agenda of the program is to support our vulnerable young people, and to give them the solid footing needed to enter adulthood with a sense of direction and purpose. L.A. CARES is an affiliate of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, founded by Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence magazine.
Tapping into the concept that it takes a village to raise a child, she said: “Bring in the village and let’s wrap our arms around our children.”
The Brotherhood Crusade is a nonprofit institution founded in 1968 to provide necessary resources, program services and a voice of advocacy to traditionally underserved communities. Our mission is to remove and/or help individuals overcome the barriers that deter their pursuit of success and facilitate opportunities for a better quality of life, by promoting health and wellness, enhancing educational opportunities, cultivating economic growth and building community agencies and institutions.
For more information about Brotherhood Crusade, visit www.brotherhoodcrusade.org.