MUST’s founder and executive director, Rick Newell, built a successful career in technology but felt a desire to change direction. In 2006, Newell began working at an inner-city Boys & Girls Club and throughout his seven years at the club he won 9 national awards for the programs he directed.

In the course of those years spent working with kids in difficult circumstances, Newell came to strongly believe the big underlying problem in the urban core is lack of positive male role models. Studies show lack of positive male role models makes youth more prone to poverty, substance abuse, physical and emotional abuse, crime, sexual activity and low educational achievement.

Newell also met and worked with many Club staff and volunteers and identified several as responsible men in their early to mid 20’s who grew up in high risk environments but never pursued higher education.  Newell observed that it takes a few years for some young men to realize the benefits of college. After working low paying jobs they become motivated to work hard at their education. 


Newell believed in an idea to address the two problems: train and pay the responsible men in their early to mid 20’s to mentor the high risk youth while they pursue their own higher education. The mentor begins college for four years. The youth enters high school for four years. For four years, a relationship is built and the younger one watches the older one and begins to think, “He comes from the same place I do. If he can do it… so can I.”

A study by the Gates Foundation reported that quality mentoring reduces depression, increases acceptance by peers, and improves grades. Long term mentoring helps with attendance, reduces substance abuse, deviant behavior in school.**

There are also financial benefits to mentorship . A study shows that there are more than 6 million high school dropouts and underemployed youth (age 16-24) in America and each one costs society $600,000 over the course of their lifetime. And they pass the same patterns on to their children, continuing the cycle.