Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras, alongside Mayor Levar Stoney and Delegate Lamont Bagby, announced the launch of Brothers United, a city-wide initiative that will offer mentoring opportunities to young men of color through relationship building and leveraging partnerships within the Richmond community.
“This initiative is a positive example of what’s possible when the city comes together to rally behind our children,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “We owe it to the young men in our community to support them and to guide them whenever possible. Brothers United is more than just a mentorship program, it’s a citywide brotherhood.”
Research shows that young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout their life’s journey. Large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade – compared to 58 percent of white boys reading below proficiency levels. Additionally, the disproportionate numbers of black and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system is pervasive. Brothers United is committed to ensuring every young man of color meets his full potential through intentional mentorship.
“It takes a village and Brothers United is about uplifting our young men and providing them with opportunities to grow and learn from leaders throughout the Richmond community,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras. “We are thankful for everyone who has sponsored a student experience and volunteered their time and expertise to be a positive role model in the life of our students.”
Each mentor will agree to a two-year commitment and meet weekly with their mentee. Every month, mentees will have the opportunity to participate in real-life student experiences alongside their mentor and peers. Student experiences will be aimed at inspiring and motivating students to do well in school, exposing mentees to various college and career options, encouraging them towards healthy and positive lives, and helping each student develop viable life plans and make good decisions.
Saturday’s announcement was followed by the first student experience at the Science Museum of Virginia, where students had the opportunity to explore hands-on exhibits and design air surfing gliders.
“This is the type of program that will make a significant positive impact in our community and the lives of our youth,” said Delegate Lamont Bagby. “Our students need and deserve consistent, long-term engagement with supportive role models.”
Brothers United will begin at George Mason Elementary School and will expand to four additional schools this summer.