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Indiana exec Eddie Melton shares how The Mentoring Trust meets need for adult mentors

Eddie Melton 3What is the name of your program?
For almost 10 years I have been involved in mentoring, from volunteering at my local Boys & Girls Clubs to serving as the executive director of a youth mentoring and tutoring organization in Indiana. In 2013, my team and I developed The Mentoring Trust, an innovative approach that helps to promote the value of mentoring with the goal of recruiting and connecting potential adult mentors with quality mentoring program, such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters and many more.

The Mentoring Trust aims to help communities across the country in developing a culture of mentoring among its citizens. We also provide mentoring organizations with effective trainings that will equip them and their mentors with the tools needed to provide youth with a quality mentoring experience.

How can someone get involved with your program?
The Mentoring Trust is prepared to help a wide range of organizations and communities with their mentoring program needs. Whether it’s a small church looking to start a mentoring program from the ground up or if it’s an established nonprofit that’s looking to enhance their program’s ability to serve the youth of their community. We encourage organizations that are interested in learning more about The Mentoring Trust to contact us at [email protected]

What keeps you motivated despite the media’s negativity about our black boys?
Almost daily, we are faced with learning of tragic incidents that involve young black boys across the country through the media. Having to grow up in a community that has experienced significant issues such as crime, violence and unemployment, I can relate personally with the issues that many of our young black boys are faced with today.

Even though the mainstream media focuses primarily on highlighting mostly negative stories in the headlines, I’ve seen far too many examples of success and hope come from young black boys in my community. It’s because of my interactions with these future leaders and scholars that I remain encouraged for the future. That’s why I strongly believe that mentoring can serve as a strategy that can lead more black boys to a future of excellence.

What partnerships do you have to ensure that your reach is inclusive?
As we were developing our pilot program at The Mentoring Trust, we wanted to make sure that we could be a resource to any mentoring organization across the country. We figured the best way for us to be inclusive was to seek opportunities to collaborate with a wide range of partners.

When we looked at how a community could develop a culture of mentoring, the first partner we reached out to was Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana. Working with the mayor and her team allowed us the opportunity to convene a wide range of community partners that would help provide multiple children with mentors. Currently, our partners consist of the Gary Youth Services Bureau, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Indiana, Indiana Youth Institute and the Urban League of Northwest Indiana. Each organization brings a unique ability to reach many youth throughout the community.

How many young boys would you like to help this year for you to feel successful?
It is my goal to see more than one hundred successful mentoring matches between young boys of color and successful men of color. Although this number is a goal, our team will work continuously to make sure that every youth that desires a mentor is connected with a mentor.

What can be done to put things on the fast track in helping our young boys?
To help our young boys of color, we will need all hands on deck. It’s going to take the collective will and minds of the community-at-large and the public and private sector to aggressively seek ways to advance the success of our young boys now until their adulthood. The foundation we lay and the times we invest in our youth will determine the strength of the future to come.

How do you encourage the young boys in our communities despite the racism?
I believe as mentors we should inform our youth of the realities of the world. The fact is that racism is a very real issue and at some point they will encounter some form of it personally. It’s important that we teach them how to handle these interactions appropriately.

What advice do you have for people who say they want to be a mentor?
I want to remind anyone that has a desire to become a mentor that this will be one of the best investments of their time that they can make. Serving as a positive role model in the life of a youth will be a rewarding experience. The moments you share and the advice you give could ultimately impact their future.