Each high school dropout costs the nation between $600,000 and $700,000 throughout the course of their lifetime in costs related to healthcare, welfare, justice system… etc. One study shows that there are 6.7 million of these ‘Opportunity Youth’. It is a complex and expensive problem. MUST has found a solution that is helping the most vulnerable black males graduate high school and leading to success in life.
MUST works with middle school counselors to identify 8th grade black male youth who are in genuine danger of dropping out of high school. At the end of their 8th grade year they are admitted to the MUST mentoring program. The summer between their 8th grade year and freshman year of high school new MUST youth go on group outings with the whole program in order to get to know other youth and mentors in the program. At the end of the summer MUST takes all the youth and mentors away for a weekend to talk about the upcoming year. New MUST youth are then paired with their mentor as they head into their freshman year.
The MUST mentoring model has three tiers: Coaches, Mentors and Youth. Three things set MUST apart from other mentoring programs. First, MUST provides black male near-peer mentors who are in college for the youth to relate to. Second, MUST pays their mentors. Third, MUST serves both our youth and our mentors equally.
Coaches: Successful working men in the community who volunteer to coach the Mentors while they are in college. Coaches and Mentors meet together twice a month during the school year. Coaches help Mentors navigate life, school, career and being a good mentor.
Mentors: Black male college students are paid for four years to mentor high school students who are in genuine danger of dropping out. Mentors get the support they need to persist in college and youth get a positive male role model to look up to. Over the four years they are together Youth and Mentor talk about the 8 Things that Make a Man. The hole MUST is most often trying to fill is the lack of a positive male role model at home. 8 Things that Make a Man provides a framework for Youth and Mentor to talk and learn what it means to be a man. Youth and Mentor also talk about The Sinister Seven. These are the seven most common things that tend to bring kids down.
High School Youth: Black male high school youth in danger of dropping out of high school. Youth get a family of black peers and near-peers over a four year period to help them succeed. Because MUST is serving the youth who need the most help it needs to be a four year mentoring program. It takes a year just to earn a youth’s trust. By years three and four MUST has a strong voice in the life of the Youth. The younger guys watch their older mentors for four years and begin to think… “He comes from the same place I do. If he can do it… so can I!”
High school graduates receive a Coach to support them for two years. The Coach helps them as they transition to either a career, college and possibly becoming a mentor for MUST. MUST has found that those first couple after high school are nearly as important as the freshman year of high school.