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Dayton Expands Men of Color Mentoring Program

DAYTON, Ohio — Miles Tidd is now a solid, focused senior at Belmont High School who holds down a job and has an eye on attending The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.

But he says he wasn’t always that way. Tidd said having a mentor, Quinn Howard, for the past five years has helped to shape his life. Dayton officials said Wednesday they’re trying to build on that type of example, via the My Brother’s Keeper program, a White House initiative to support disadvantaged kids, especially children of color.

“For a while, when I was not being very responsible and not being a very good kid, Quinn stood by my side. He supported me, was there to talk to me,” Tidd said. “I was raised by a single mother, never had a father figure, so having someone there to say, hey, you shouldn’t talk to your mother like this, or you shouldn’t act like this—it’s not what a grown man does. That really helped me grow and mature.”

Local and national officials came together Wednesday to evaluate and advance Dayton’s Men of Color program, an arm of My Brother’s Keeper. City Commissioner Jeff Mims, chairman of the Men of Color group, said they have involvement from churches, ex-offenders groups, the United Way and Dayton Public Schools, among others.

Mims said a next step is having each fraternity in Dayton adopt a high school and mentor 15 to 30 students per school on schoolwork, attitude, conflict resolution and more. Mims called it a contagious process, hoping those 15 to 30 high schoolers then turn into mentors for younger students.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a supporter of the program, said mentors help students recognize their own potential.

“Everybody has it in them, to do something pretty important,” Brown said. “If they come to a fork in the road, and they have somebody that will help them, give them advice, mentor them, their success rate will be so much higher. Too many never have that opportunity.”

Students at Dayton Boys Prep Academy said Wednesday that they get some mentoring already, but various students said they could use help—dealing with distractions at school, battling peer pressure to misbehave in their neighborhoods, and asking for tutors to help them stay on track for graduation.

Mims said his Men of Color group will bring about 200 adult role models into Dayton, Trotwood and Jefferson Twp. schools Nov. 11, aiming to show students that they too can succeed in life.

Broderick Johnson, Chair of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, said President Obama is fully invested in the program, which has 200 participating cities nationwide.

“He will ask me, how is MBK in Dayton? And I’ll report to the president that in Dayton, things are going great,” Johnson said. “In too many circumstances, these boys and young men don’t have fathers to look up to. But mentors can make such a difference, and that’s what we saw today in Dayton.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the city keeps moving forward, with her City of Learners group supporting Mims’ group, and Sinclair Community College taking over the local Mentoring Collaborative with additional funding.

Howard, Tidd’s mentor, said it comes back to giving young people a boost and support when they make poor choices. Tidd said after Howard’s years of support, he plans to be a mentor too.

“He’s pushed me farther than I’ve ever thought I could go, and he’s shown me that helping people helps you,” Tidd said.

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