dennis-wright_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — The organization 100 Black Men of Greater Fort  Lauderdale, which has been mentoring young black males for 10 years, is gearing up to help other community-based organizations reach students in Broward County.

The group is launching a joint initiative with Broward County Public Schools and Nova Southeastern University to centralize mentoring programs for the school district. 

 The three organizations will develop a tracking system that allows every mentoring organization in the county to create a profile on a website for parents and schools to access, said Dennis L. Wright, president of the 100 Black Men of Greater Fort Lauderdale.  Parents can sign up to have an organization mentor their children through the school system.

Parents can visit the site to see how their children are progressing in the mentoring program and how it is impacting areas such as their behavior and academic studies, Wright said.  Guidance counselors and teachers will also be able view a student’s progress. 

Mentoring organizations will be able to review the risk factors to customize their mentoring programs to better help students, Wright said.  Every organization will be held accountable to a performance “baseline” and be able to share best practices among the organizations.

“The overall goal is to connect the right mentoring program with the student so the student can improve academically,” Wright said.

The initiative will help the Broward school district support community-based organizations and better meet the needs of students, said Wanda Robinson, whose duties include running the mentoring program for the school district,

including recruiting and training mentors.

“It is a natural marriage of education and community-based support,” Robinson said.  “Mentoring is such an effective way of providing preventative services for students.  We are looking at every way to expand those services in our community.”

The school system has about 2,000 mentors who regularly mentor students one hour a week on campus during the school day, Robinson said.  The mentors serve as role models and help with life-skill development and college and career choices for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

“We know that not all people are able to mentor during the school day. It is important for us to work with community-based organizations so people who can’t mentor during the day and parents who are looking for something other than what we offer will have options,” Robinson said.

The school district doesn’t endorse any community-based organization but makes recommendations based upon criteria, said Robinson. The 100 Black Men group is at the top of the list due to the success of its program, she said.

Every boy who has been in the 100 Black Men mentoring program consistently for at least 18 months has gone on to college, Wright said.

“The goal is to provide a mentor for all the minority males in the district and the only way to do that is with community collaboration,” Robinson said.

Nova Southeastern University will offer its information technology resources, including professors, students and access to computers to create the site, Wright said.  The 100 Black Men also will begin holding its weekly mentoring meetings with the students at the university this fall.

Preston Jones, a dean at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business & Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern, proposed an initiative to get more young black men through graduate school and to obtain their doctorate degree, Wright said.

“It makes sense for us to partner with Nova so once they get to college there will be more mentoring provided to help them move on to their doctorate degree,” Wright said.

The collaborative effort seems to be a perfect fit for the national 100 Black Men of America, who will hold its 28th annual conference June 12-15 at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood.  This year’s theme is “Education in an Era of Change:  Ensuring Excellence for African American Youth.”