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Identity & Community

Local My Brother’s Keeper Program Putting Mentorship First

Brennan Linsley
Associated Press

City organizers say a local collaborative designed to connect organizations, willing mentors and youth looking for guidance is off to a great start. 

Pittsburgh Keepers of the Community kicked off in late July as part of a nationwide My Brother’s Keeper initiative started by President Barack Obama. Mayor Bill Peduto sanctioned the partnership helmed by BMe Pittsburgh and the Mentoring Partnership.

“We’ve had our second meet-up of the Pittsburgh Keepers of the Community and we plan on hosting our third one at the end of September," said LaTrenda Sherril, deputy chief of operations and administration in Peduto's office. "I think we’re doing the third Wednesday or the last Wednesday of every month.”

The mayor's office estimated one in three youth do not have access to a mentor in the Pittsburgh region. Keepers was conceived to bring interested parties together to share ideas and best practices.

“The Mentoring Partnership is celebrating its 20th anniversary and there (are) over 27,000 kids being mentored," Executive Director Colleen Fedor said. "That’s really impressive for a city of our size, but we know that’s not good enough. We know there’s still more to be done.”

Young men of color around age 13 are most in need, according to the partnership. Amachi Pittsburgh, 100 Black Men of Southwest PA, the Door Campaign, Turning Corners Mentoring, Reaching Back Rites of Passage Program and the Black Male Leadership Development Institute are all participating, though Fedor said more mentors and children looking for help are always welcome.

“We’re bringing together groups who may have known each other or known something about each other, but now they’re learning about how they can work together or how they can share resources to better serve kids,” Fedor said.

She said success shows in the groups’ efforts. Mentors set up at Westinghouse and Perry high schools to welcome kids with signs and handshakes and let them know about possible mentor programs.