In a time when the focus on the needs of black youth has been a topic of national conversation, the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles has been a quiet, yet powerful force in the community for nearly 40 years, demonstrating unconditional support for the enhancement of education for the youth they serve.
A civic and community-based organization that serves as a catalyst for the disadvantaged and underrepresented segments of the community, 100 Black Men’s mission is to improve the quality of life for black youth and other minorities through the enhancement of educational and economic opportunities within the community.
The volunteer-driven organization provides support for and focuses on mentoring, education, health and wellness, economic empowerment and leadership.
Rev. Jewett L. Walker Jr., president and chairman of the board, knows all too well what can happen when youth aren’t nurtured and given the support they need to thrive.
“Without intervention in my life, perhaps I would have ended up in different circumstances, but because of strong family support, church leaders and good-hearted adults, I was able to have a far better outcome,” Walker said.
In fact, mentoring is the cornerstone of what the organization brings to the community. By guiding youth in life experiences, fostering a positive self-perception and self-respect, encouraging excellence in education and the pursuit of positive life-long goals, 100 Black Men, works with the See Your Future Mentoring Program and Young Black Scholars, to heighten self-esteem for youth through improved family relations, academic success, and social and financial responsibility.
“The history of our program and its impact has been undeniable,” Walker said. “We are well received by parents, schools, colleges and students. West Los Angeles College provides our Young Black Scholars Program with office space on their campus. They also allow us to use any classroom on campus for our programming if it’s available.
“Loyola Marymount University hosts our annual Academic Kickoff Orientation and College Fair in September, and our Celebration of Achievement in June. They have also hosted our Young Men of Color Conference, some of our Pathways to Success Entrepreneurial classes and our Men’s Health Month Essay Contest Awards Breakfast.”
Founded in 1981 by Dr. William H. Hayling, the organization was created in an attempt to erase the disparities in education, health care and economics in communities of color. 100 Black Men of Los Angeles works to decrease the rate of school suspension and expulsion rates, while increasing the rates of high school and college graduation rates, college going rates and college graduation rates, among youth.
In addition to their school-based programming, 100 Black Men also runs the Young Black Scholars (YBS) Program. YBS began as a solution to the 1983 California Post-Secondary Education Commission study that indicated an alarming disparity of black students who did not meet the University of California entrance requirements upon high school graduation. In an effort to exceed those statistics, 100 Black Men of Los Angeles officially implemented the YBS Program. To date, the program continues to thrive and produce future leaders for America. Approximately 22,000 students have matriculated through the YBS Program.
As for the future, besides growing into more geographic areas such as Pasadena, Oxnard and the Antelope Valley, the organization is looking forward to creating more partnerships with schools in the establishment of YBS Clubs on high school campuses. The organization hopes to increase the amount of school district funding it receives so that they can implement YBS principles into more school curriculums, and increase their use of technology to manage student enrollment, donor engagement, class management and scheduling.
And of course, the organization is always looking for strong volunteers to serve as mentors for their youth and continue providing participants with the tools they need to succeed in their education and beyond.
“We are driven by successful African-American men from various professions who volunteer valuable time to help others realize success through mentorship, education and philanthropy,” Walker said. “We’re proud of the number of students who [come through our program and] decide on college as a viable option for their future, [and] the improvement of community outcomes in the areas of healthy living, economic parity, educational attainment and leadership [our program and mentors helps make possible],” Walker said.
Organization: 100 Black Men of Los Angeles
Leader: President Jewett L. Walker Jr.
Years in Operation: 48
Social Media: www.facebook.com/100bmla
By Angela N. Parker