Delaware’s Black Male Mentorship Program Seems to Go Global State and region

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A Wilmington-based mentoring program hopes to help 10,000 black men around the world overcome trauma and achieve success in their work and personal lives.

“We live in a society where black men, believe it or not, are increasingly marginalized and relegated to the fringes every day,” said Dr Donald Morton, who heads Project ReManned.

The six-month program is aimed at black men over the age of 25, especially men who are incarcerated or struggling with unemployment. Morton said the minimum age gives them the opportunity to focus on men that society may have counted.

Program participants attend group meetings where they can connect with peers facing similar issues. They are also in contact with older men who serve as mentors. Together, they are working on a program that Morton calls “the character arc”.

“Our goal is to make sure black men have the tools they need to be able to navigate the adverse realities of everyday life,” Morton said. “The gentlemen who are part of the ReManned project have made significant mistakes, have significant challenges, and frankly the company has rejected them as if they can never make any adjustments.”

Morton’s ambitious goal is to train thousands of men through an initiative he calls “Project 10,000” in coordination with other chapters in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Houston and Nairobi, Kenya. Currently, 15 men are coached in the Wilmington chapter by five coaches.

While Project ReManned is more focused on helping individuals, Morton said he supports groups fighting for system changes that have led to black men being incarcerated at a much higher rate than others. groups. In Delaware, black residents make up more than half of the state’s prison population, although they make up only 23% of the state’s population.

“Black men deserve a second chance, a third chance, however many chances it takes to be successful,” said Haneef Salaam, who works as the director of the ACLU of Delaware’s Campaign for Smart Justice. He worked for 15 years to help improve conditions for those who re-enter society after serving a prison sentence.

“I remember being put in the same position, making bad mistakes as a young adult led me to incarceration and a cycle of reoffending,” Salaam said. “It wasn’t until the birth of my daughter that I decided I wanted to elevate myself. It’s time for me to redo myself.

The program also gained some local political support. Earlier last week, members of Wilmington City Council and New Castle County Council introduced resolutions declaring June 1 “ReManned Project Day.”

Morton acknowledges that not everyone who joined the program made it.

“We lost some. We have guys who started the program and didn’t finish it, dropped out of the program and got killed, ”he said. “I remember that day like it was yesterday because I literally stayed in bed for a week.

Khalil Weeks has been on the program since January.

“It gives me the tools I need to be successful, not only professionally, but as a person. It’s very strong in character, ”said Weeks, who grew up in Philadelphia and now lives in Bear, Delaware.

Weeks said Morton’s request for participants to be honest and genuine started his journey to becoming a new man.

“I took an oath [to be a] “Serial truth-teller,” and that was the start of the change in my life there, ”he said.

Eric Robinson, vice chairman of the board of the ReManned project, said he frequently hears about underfunded communities, but in his opinion, not enough time and energy is spent helping people who have need help in acquiring the skills necessary for success, from mental health care to education.

“How can I actually walk in a way that my son or my family can follow after me if I am ill-prepared or if I don’t have the equipment mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in terms of education, to do what is needed, not only to support my family, but also to be a productive citizen in my community? Robinson said. “It’s not just about helping one man. It’s about helping a community of men who are crying out for support. “

In addition to personal skills development and leadership training, Project ReManned provides men with financial advice, including the basics of banking and how to apply for loans, with help from Matthew Parks, vice president. by Discover Financial Services.

“I’m willing to give my time, talent and the resources I have to make sure men have the knowledge and a place to go and seek advice that isn’t always available to them,” Parks said. .

Morton also works with licensed behavioral health clinicians to assess potential participants to ensure they are ready to participate in the program.

“We dig deeper into some of the traumas these guys went through, some of the job challenges, some of the mindset challenges, some of the health issues these guys face,” he said. . “You just can’t get them into a process without helping them deal with some of the things that they’ve had to come across over time. “

This story originally appeared on WHYY.org.



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