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Reaching Out to Teenage Boys

Posted by jcmaziquemd on December 9, 2010

Reaching Out to Teenage Boys

By SHELLY BANJO

In 1994 Tracey Brown was fresh out of law school and looking for a way to get involved in her community.

She turned to the Links Inc., a national volunteer organization of more than 12,000 professional women of color.

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TRACEY BROWN

Now a partner at the Cochran law firm in Manhattan, Ms. Brown is making a $10,000 donation to the Metro-Manhattan chapter to help expand Young Achievers, a mentoring program for young African-American men, from its Harlem home to communities across the country.

The announcement of the initiative will be made at the group’s gala at Capitale on Sunday. At the event, the group will honor Geoffrey Canada, founder of nonprofit Harlem Children’s Zone, which runs charter schools and other programs for families in Harlem.

"We want to see more young men follow in the footsteps and legacy of Geoffrey Canada to change their community the way he has," says Anna Maria Bishop Harris, president of the Metro-Manhattan chapter of the Links.

The Metro-Manhattan chapter of the Links focuses on the children and families in Harlem through arts, education and leadership development.

"We want our young African-American men in graduation caps and gowns as opposed to orange jumpsuits. Someone has to step in and be accountable," Ms. Bishop Harris says.

Through its Young Achievers program, males ages 15 to 18 participate in a number of mentoring and educational events, including oratorical contests, etiquette training and SAT and college-preparatory classes and events. Through mentoring, enrichment and life skills, the group says since its inception it has helped 300 young men graduate from college.

"Living in Harlem I’ve been able to see a real sea change in our community," says Ms. Brown, who has served as a mentor over the years. "It’s palpable the change you see in the way these young men dress, how they behave and act, as well as an increased diligence in work and school."

The Metro-Manhattan chapter says they’ve already seen former mentees come back from college to work in Harlem and volunteer for the organization. Ms. Brown says part of that success is the Links’ close involvement in the community.

"We are embedded in the community in which we serve so what we accomplish is immediate and obvious," Ms. Brown says. "If something isn’t working we can quickly make adjustments and changes."

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