GEM | City of Ideas

Posted 12/23/2012 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
Many young men of color are growing up without continuous positive male role models in their nuclear and extended families and in their community at large. Public/Private Ventures (PPV) performed an 18 month study of mentoring programs that focused on factors such as social activities, academic performance, attitudes and behaviors, relationships with family and friends, among others, and found that mentored youth were less likely to engage in drug or alcohol use, resort to violence or skip school.  Yet according to Mass Mentoring’s 2010 Greater Boston regional Report, there were almost 1,500 youth on the waiting lists of mentoring organizations.  The top challenges in meeting the needs of these youth are the difficulty recruiting male mentors and mentors of color.  (Mass Mentoring Counts 2010:  Greater Boston Regional Report.)  GEM seeks to address both the immediate needs of young black and brown boys needing mentors, and the long term need for trained and compassionate mentors who have experienced the impact a mentor can have on young man’s development.

Project Proposed:
Diamond Educators Mentoring Initiative (DEMI), Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center (STEC) and The Boston Police Community Tennis Association (BPCTA) will create GEM - an integrated pathway of intentional mentoring experiences for boys, to be piloted in Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury.  The GEM pathway will provide a seven year old boy with quality mentoring relationships through high school graduation and beyond, and simultaneously prepare him to become a mentor.  Our goals are to ensure each young man has a mentor, and that the mentee becomes a mentor.
Volley Against Violence (VAV), a successful free tennis and life-skills program run by STEC and BPCTA for 4+ years, and DEUCE (Don’t Ever Underestimate Consistent Effort), a mentoring partnership of STEC & DEMI in its 2nd year, will become pathways into DEMI Academy, where older youth learn to become mentors.  VAV attracts over 100 youth weekly, and approximately 48 % are black and brown boys.   Many are already forming relationships with the police officers who drive them to STEC and play tennis with them; some have already joined DEUCE.    GEM creates a 3-tiered pipeline, makes the transition from VAV into DEUCE and DEMI intentional and adds structured outcomes around the development of young mentors.

Role of Collaboration:
STEC is the common denominator in these existing partnerships, and will be the lead partner/fiscal agent in GEM.   GEM deepens both partnerships to more intentionally identify, recruit and support boys and young men as they mature, and the mentors who serve them.    VAV is the entry point where boys begin to relate to mentors.  STEC and BPCTA staff will identify boys whose life circumstances suggest that engagement in DEUCE and DEMI’s structured experiences and opportunities will help them understand themselves, their challenges and strengths and their ability to make a positive difference in their community. 

More than 40 officers have had specific training to be part of the Boston Police Community Tennis Association (BPCTA), a free program conceptualized by BPD officer and STEC Board member Frank Williams.  VAV has served over 1,200 area youth in 4 years, including approximately 250 boys and young men from Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury, and a larger group from Officer Williams’ South Boston district.  The relationships that these officers have already formed with neighborhood youth make it clear that they can have a tremendous impact on the boys and mentors in the GEM pathway. 

Diamond Educators Mentoring Initiative (DEMI) currently provides mentoring for elementary, middle and high school boys and young men.   Adult mentors provide tutoring, workshops in communication, life skills and self-advocacy as well as 1:1 mentoring sessions.  High school members, in addition to being mentored become mentors to younger boys.  DEMI adult mentors also visit boys at school and sometimes in their home.  DEMI’s experience and expertise in recruiting and supporting adult mentors will be a critical component in the successful progress of boys through the GEM pathway.

Impact:
STEC, DEMI and the BPCTA individually have demonstrated the ability to effectively serve and support boys and young men of color. Our shared vision has resulted in two separate partnerships across the three programs.   Currently each organization individually dedicates resources to functions including outreach, youth and mentor recruitment and support.   A CB prize would enable us to integrate the existing programs into a cohesive initiative, eliminating duplication of effort and allowing us to both serve more boys and young men and to more intensively serve and support them.  This integrated approach will collectively allow us to:  identify potential members at an early age and proactively steer them to VAV, DEUCE and then DEMI Academy; share information about the participation, attendance and progress of individual boys and siblings; share concerns about individual boys in a timely manner; actively reach out to younger brothers of active GEM members; and provide older members with expanded work and service opportunities.

Primary Contact:
Sportsmen's Tennis & Enrichment Center
Sportsmen's Tennis & Enrichment Center builds leaders on the court, in the classroom and in the greater community by providing academic, wellness and social development programs alongside recreational and competitive tennis instruction for youth and adults.  STEC is committed to improving life opportunities for youth in Boston's Blue Hill Corridor while welcoming a diverse community from the Greater Boston area.
Sportsmen's Tennis & Enrichment Center (STEC) builds leaders on the court, in the classroom and in the greater community by providing academic, wellness and social development programs alongside recreational and competitive tennis instruction for youth and adults.  STEC is committed to improving life opportunities for youth in Boston's Blue Hill Corridor while welcoming a diverse community from the Greater Boston area.

Toni Wiley is the Executive Director of STEC. She has over 12 year of non-profit management experience including leadership positions in several Boston-area non-profit organizations.  She came to the non-profit sector after more than 15 years of executive experience in the corporate sector.   A graduate of Northeastern University, Ms. Wiley grew up in Boston and lives in Dorchester, within walking distance of Sportsmen’s.   A strong believer in the power of mentoring she recently organized a training on Intentional Mentoring for the entire STEC staff.

Partner 1:
Toni Wiley - see above

Jelani Haynes, Director of Community Tennis, is a lifelong resident of Dorchester.  He grew up playing tennis at STEC and benefited from a series of mentors during that time.  After graduating from Shorter College in Georgia, Jelani returned to Dorchester and for the past 6 years has served as a mentor and role model, both at work and in his personal life.  Jelani leads the DEUCE program in partnership with Shawn Brown of DEMI and the VAV program in partnership with Frank Williams of the Boston Police Department and BPCTA.

Partner 2:
Diamond Educators Mentoring Inc.  are committed to the development of young men in the City of Boston by building relationships and inspiring them to attain educational, social, cultural, and financial growth through mentoring

Shawn Brown, a graduate of Charlestown High School and Merrimack College, is the co-founder and president of Diamond Educators, based in Roxbury.  Raised in East Boston, Shawn benefitted from the positive influences of caring adult mentors, which translates into his passion and life's work with teens in Boston today.  In addition to the countless hours he spends with Diamond Educators, Shawn also has a full-time job as a Career Specialist and is a mentor to 25 teens annually.  In Feb 2009 he was honored by the Boston Celtics as a hero Among Us for his unyielding dedication in giving youth a better chance to succeed in life.

Partner 3:
The Boston Police Community Tennis Association brings tennis to Boston youth at STEC courts and courts in their neighborhoods.  BPCTA was recently formally recognized by the US Tennis Association (USTA) and is being replicated across the country through a partnership with the USTA and the National Police Athletic League.   Through BPCTA  and Volley Against Violence, Boston Police Department volunteers to lead Volley Against Violence tennis programming for inner city youth alongside STEC staff and independently. 
Officer Frank G. Williams Jr. of the Boston Police Department and STEC Board Member leads BPCTA.  In 2011 the USTA of Eastern Massachusetts recognized Officer Williams as their Volunteer of the Year for his work with VAV.  A lifelong resident of Boston, Officer Williams has been a police officer for 25 years.  He speaks of mentoring youth as he was mentored growing up

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