2018 – Help is on the Way!

Help is on the Way!

Kelvin-Washington-webI am very excited to introduce you to Kelvin Washington. Kelvin is our second full-time employee (after me) and has been hired to be our very first Area Director. He will oversee the work of MUST in the Rainier Valley (Garfield HS, Franklin HS, Cleveland HS and Rainier Beach HS).

MUST is a near-peer mentoring model and Kelvin embodies this model. His body bears the scars from his early poor choices and unwise friendships yet he also holds a B.A. from Howard University and an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington. The Youth and Mentors will be able to relate to him because of his early experiences and all will be able to relate to him because of his wonderful passion, his education and brilliant mind.

The work MUST does is exactly what Kelvin has devoted his life to do. His motto is ‘Serve to Save’ and at each of his previous stops he achieved the desired outcomes and has related to troubled youth in a unique and effective way. He believes the foundation of hope begins with positive relationships. Working with struggling African American youth is his passion and he is very excited about his role with MUST. We have a lot to learn from him and we feel extremely lucky to have found Kelvin.

All Youth, Mentors and Coaches (27 people currently and up to 50 within the next year) will eventually report to Kelvin. The hire will free up at least 60% of my workload so I can focus on development, community relations and oversight of the whole program. Both Rebecca and I have been working very hard and have put in many extra hours over these past six years. We welcome Kelvin’s help.

Because of the rising cost of living in Seattle, many African American families are being pushed south to Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Tukwila and Renton. Eventually, MUST would like to have a presence in each of these cities. It has been our goal to open up a new city by 2020. Hiring an Area Director paves the way for me to start exploring what city will be the next stop for MUST.

The hiring of Kelvin signals a strategic shift for MUST. The Youth and Mentors in the program trust me because they know that I love them but in the end I am still a middle aged white guy. MUST believes that Kelvin will be able to do an even better job inspiring our Youth to work hard toward their future and to encourage our Mentors in their pursuit of their higher education and stable careers. This hire is a big step forward and I cannot thank YOU enough for helping make it happen.

FAST FACTS: 71% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.

MUST QUOTES: “I feel the mentoring has kept his mind on higher goals and his ego intact.” – Guardian of MUST Youth

The Sinister 7

Each year MUST takes all the Youth and Mentors away for a weekend. The purpose of the weekend is three fold: have fun, allow Youth and Mentors to bond, and talk about The Sinister Seven. The Sinister Seven is an organic list that grows and changes each year. It is a list of the seven (it started as five) most common roadblocks that tend to pull youth down.

This year we went and stayed at two cabins on the beach on Whidbey Island. It was a fantastic time filled with ferry rides, campfires, smores (first time for some), basketball, video games, late nights and meals together as a group. Memories are created over these weekends that last a lifetime. One youth said last year that he had never been farther away from home than Edmonds (25 miles away).

The Mentors lead the group discussions about The Sinister Seven. The conversations get very real as Mentors speak from their own experience. What are The Sinister Seven? Glad you asked!
1. Friends – Show me your friends and I will show you your future.
2. Sex – mishandle the bedroom and it will change your life.
3. Fast Money – confronting the lie that it is easy to make money.
4. Solving problems with your fists and not your words.
5. Illegal substances (mostly marijuana).
6. Poverty.
7. Interactions with the police.

MUST does not tell its Youth all year long that they are ‘at-risk’. If a youth hears that enough then they take it as an excuse to give in. One weekend a year, however, we speak in very real terms about the dangers they face. It is a powerful time.

The MUST Misson: MUST is dedicated to finding promising African American men in college and paying them to mentor African American youth who are in genuine danger of dropping out of high school. The younger watches the older for 4 years and begins to think, “If he can do it… so can I!”

Fundraising Update 

This year we have a $10K matching grant from the Dean Witter Foundation and a $20K matching grant from a private donor that will go toward new funds raised. For every new $1 you donate we will get $3! When the first $10K matching grant is met, for every new $1 you donate we will get $2. You can help us earn an additional $30,000 with your new donations. A new donation is either a first time gift or a gift that is greater than your normal annual or monthly gift. This is a great opportunity to stretch your year end donations!

So far we have raised $46K of our $150K goal for new funds. The funds need to be raised by early spring so we can know how many new youth we can sponsor for the 2019-20 school year. Our capital campaign this year is 10 People in 10 Living Rooms. These living room meetings are taking place this fall and early winter.

We are still one living room short of our 10 living room goal. If you would like to host an evening with your friends please let Rick know. He will come and talk about MUST and answer any questions that people might have. It will be a fun and relaxing evening.




Housing – Would you consider buying MUST a house or letting us take care of yours while our college students stay there? Housing is a constant and urgent need.

Cars – MUST is always on the lookout for used cars for our mentors. We need about three new (used) cars each year. You can make it a tax deductible gift!

Food – Some of our youth and college age guys struggle with hunger. Would you mail us some gift cards from Subway, Safeway or QFC?

Funding – Would you consider helping us meet our $150K fundraising goal this year for new funds?

You can make donations directly to MUST!

Checks are payable to Mentoring Urban Students and Teens
EIN Tax ID: 47-3006113
4093 Letitia Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118