Connecting Baltimore’s young men and women with caring adults is paramount to building a better, safer Baltimore, according to City Councilman Brandon M. Scott.
“Mentoring saves lives. There’s no doubt about it,” said Scott, who represents District 2, which includes Belair-Edison, Gardenville and Rosemont East. “If there is a man they (youths) can call on, or a young lady has a woman she can call on, that shows them there’s a better way. What these young people want more than anything is time and attention from caring adults.”
Scott talked to the Greater Baltimore Committee about violence in the African American community in Baltimore and the importance of mentors on April 1, mere days before the city saw a spike in violence.
“Most African American men don’t live the life that the world thinks African American men live,” Scott said. “That’s why I spend so much time with young people. I want them to be able to see that I am not the exception to the rule, I am the norm – hard-working, law-abiding African American men are the rule.”
In her 2015 State of the City address, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a call to action for Baltimore’s African American men to help end the senseless killing of fellow African Americans. One way to help stop the violence is through mentoring.
Scott concurs with the mayor. He says mentoring and family strengthening training programs are key to “correcting a lot of the ills in our city.”
“There is no reason that every young man and young woman in the City of Baltimore that wants a mentor shouldn’t have one,” said Scott, who noted there are 85,000 students in K-12 enrolled in Baltimore City Public Schools.
City, business, religious and education leaders must work together to connect mentors to every youth who wants one, Scott said.
“Coming together as a coalition can do that and we will ultimately see the impact that will come from many of the mentoring programs across the city,” he said.
One such program is Hire One Youth, the private-sector component of Baltimore City’s YouthWorks summer jobs program, which encourages Baltimore businesses to hire at least one job-ready youth, between ages 16 to 21, for a six-week summer job, said Scott, who described the program as a form of mentoring.
“To learn actual business practices is irreplaceable for these young people,” Scott said. “If we have more and more businesses step up, and different kinds of businesses step up, we can have a great impact on the young people.”
Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, is the chairman of Hire One Youth.
“In addition to providing young adults with real-life work experiences, which is imperative to the vitality of Baltimore’s workforce of tomorrow,” Fry said, “Hire One Youth allows young people to broaden their horizons and connect with business leaders who can help them grow.”
“We all need mentors,” Scott said. “There’s no one who has gotten to where they are and they didn’t have some adult to help them. We have to help these kids understand that there’s a world bigger than that four block radius that they’re living.”