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In the aftermath of police killings involving Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Tamir Rice in Cleveland many of us have declared with passion that black lives matter. In addition to demanding justice and law enforcement reform, these tragedies also present an opportunity for us to better nurture black children.

A black man, I’ve been a “Big” (an adult volunteer mentor) and board member with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit (BBBSMD) for nearly nine years.

We’re an affiliate of the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network. We have more than 100 years of experience at what we do.

Simply put, it’s important that people who look like me volunteer mentor in our community. Fact is, you don’t have to be someone who dons a dress shirt and neck tie, or resides in a cul-de-sac suburban community. We need mentors from all walks of life: those who work in downtown boardrooms and those who toil on Grand Boulevard.

In an effort to achieve our mission and vision, to create and support strong enduring mentoring relationships, BBBSMD developed the “100 MENtors in 100 Days campaign” to coincide with January as National Mentoring Month.

The campaign kicked off on Jan. 1. It runs until April 9. Our goal is to directly impact critical issues affecting youth in our program. We aim to:

Increase the number of African-American and Latino males involved as mentors in our program.

Decrease the longer time for boys wait for a Big Brother; boys wait twice as long as girls for a mentor.

Raise supportive program dollars.

Increase community awareness of BBBSMD programs.

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, we say “start something.” As a volunteer mentor or “Big,” we encourage members our team to take a child to a ball game or dance recital; help him or her with their homework; or take them bowling, to a movie, or to the North American International Auto Show.

Studies show that mentoring can help kids achieve academic excellence, avoid juvenile delinquency and become college or job ready. So while we demonstrate, debate and deplore the fact that black boys in America face unique challenges, let’s also start something: Mentor them.

Indeed, black lives matter. For more information about the “100 MENtors in 100 Days” campaign contact BBBSMD at (313) 309-0500 or visit: www.bbbsdetroit.org

Ken Coleman, advisory board member,

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan

Detroit

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