CBM Cares — the mentoring initiative of the nonprofit Concerned Black Men National Organization — is ramping up its mentor recruitment efforts both locally and nationally, and will work in conjunction with Concerned Black Men Philadelphia to reach its quota here.
Concerned Black Men, founded in 1975 when several Philadelphia police officers sponsored social events for kids at risk to gang violence, is dedicated to filling the void of positive Black male role models in many communities by providing mentors and programs that affirm the care and discipline that all youth need, while providing opportunities for academic and career enrichment. The philosophy of men offering themselves as positive role models to children has remained CBM’s mission for more than 30 years.
There are currently five chapters enrolled in CBM Cares: Prince Georges County, Maryland; Washington D.C.; Columbia, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia and Philadelphia.
“The statistics surrounding African-American male youth point to a severe crisis that can no longer be ignored,” said Volunteer and Mentoring Services Director Jeannette Simon, via a statement released by the national office. “More than 60 percent of African-American youth are growing up in fatherless households. The critical importance of African-American male role models cementing a presence in the lives of African-American youth cannot be understated. In Philadelphia, the Concerned Black Men National Mentoring Initiative, CBM Cares Philadelphia, is in constant demand of responsible and resilient African-American men to provide guidance, support and encouragement to our youth as mentors.”
CBM Philadelphia offers tours of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, supports an annual African-American youth recognition and award program, is currently enrolled in the adopt-a-school program, and also offers an after school and evening computer programs.
All this on top of the comprehensive “Bringing the Black Boy to Manhood” program, which formed a partnership with African-American firefighters, the Pennsylvania Probation and Parole Board, the Philadelphia Police Department, Prince Hall Masonic Lodges and local businessmen and otherwise interested African-American males that allow the youth to mingle with them and gain insight into the coming of age process.
Locally, less than a dozen men are active mentors with CBM, and program manager Eugene Pough hopes to at least triple that number through this mentorship drive.
“The official number to meet the quota is 35, but personally, I would like to have 50 men sign up to be mentors,” Pough said. “And the program has been very successful. I took over in July, but the previous program director signed up more than 85 youth to the program.”
Interested men can visit either www.cbmcares.org or www.cmbnational.org to learn how to sign up, and to learn what being a mentor entails. Men can also call 215-276-2260 to sign up.
While being a mentor can seem like a daunting task filled with over-the-top responsibilities, Pough said the requirements are quite minimal, and what a mentor gets out of the program makes it even more worthwhile.
“It would mean one hour per week, per school, and then there’s four hours on one Saturday every month,” Pough explained. “But overall, the self-gratification and knowing you are affecting the lives of young African-American and Latino males should be enough [to convince potential mentors].
“With the crime and everything else going on, and with violence among African-American and Latino males are facing, and if someone is interested in giving their time to stop this from happening, it’s a must they become a mentor.”