Throughout Black History Month, we are grateful for the opportunity to focus time and thought on some of the outstanding organizations within the Black community that help serve and strengthen our region in innovative ways. One such nonprofit that exemplifies the qualities we celebrate this month is Mentoring Urban Students & Teens (M.U.S.T.).
A Murdock Trust grantee, M.U.S.T. responds to a complex problem with a strong belief: for underserved Black males who often live without a positive male role model, “Mentoring is a M.U.S.T.”
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund, famously stated that “It’s hard to be what you can’t see.” Research shows that when individuals are able to see people from a similar background serving in a specific role, they are more likely to believe that they too can pursue that same opportunity. This is a central principle behind M.U.S.T.’s work.
Based in Seattle, M.U.S.T. employs a three-tiered mentoring model for Black male youth. Students entering the 9th grade who are identified as vulnerable to dropping out of high school are paired with positive Black male role models in college who, just years before, were in a similar position. The college-aged mentors are themselves coached by working professionals in the community.
“The kids we serve come from very different life circumstances,” says Kelvin Washington, executive director. “Some days without food. Some even open their ovens for heat. And then others come from fatherless homes.”
By pairing these students with a positive male role model who looks like them and has come from a similar set of experiences, Black male youth can look to their near-peer mentor and see that they can attain similar success. M.U.S.T. participants are more likely to graduate from high school and college than their Black male peers, often breaking cycles of generational poverty with new cycles of relationship and hope.
The Murdock Trust is grateful to support this transformative work with a capacity building grant that will allow new staff to expand M.U.S.T.’s offerings to others in underserved communities.
Thank you, M.U.S.T., for helping write a brighter future for the Pacific Northwest and helping ensure that every individual has an opportunity to flourish and thrive!