Blog Entry Youth Development, Capacity Building

February Member Spotlight: Martin Jackson, Concerned Black Men

In commemoration of National Mentoring Month, CBMA has been lifting up those in the Black Male Achievement field who have dedicated their efforts to providing mentoring opportunities for Black men and boys, and ensuring that they have strong systems of support to achieve positive life outcomes. Organizations like the National CARES Mentoring Movement, The Black Star Project and Concerned Black Men National have have been mobilizing around the uplift of boys and men of color, not just in January but throughout the entire year. For February's Member Spotlight feature, CBMA spoke with Martin Jackson, Program Manager for Concerned Black Men, about this work and how the organization is helping to improve life outcomes and opportunities for Black males through mentorship

January is National Mentoring Month; how did your own upbringing and experiences influence your decision to embark on a career in the youth and mentoring fields? Who particularly inspired you?

I was raised in a home where my mother was not just my provider, care giver and disciplinarian, but she was in essence my mentor. As a single mother, my mom realized the need for me to be around positive black men so she enrolled me in my local Big Brothers program. Once I was matched, I was exposed to a lot of different experiences with my mentor. I went to museums, historic Philadelphia and the car show. My mentor did not try to make me become what they wanted me to be, but allowed me the opportunity to discover my own gifts and talents and skills and make the decision to follow-through. He listened, encouraged, motivated, challenged, guided me back to the right path when I strayed from my own vision and plan, and helped me to make the right decision. My mother served as my example inspired me and gave me the framework to attack my life endeavors successfully. 

What do you count among your key accomplishments as Program Manager of CBM? What highlights or successes are you most proud of?

It’s no question that the challenge in mentoring is recruiting and retaining AA male mentors. I fell it a key accomplishment that with innovative approaches to recruitment and with a support staff we are working to meet and exceed our benchmarks in this area. The relationships between the mentors and boys are flourishing.  I have been able to partner with several local civic, faith-based, and social groups and persons who have donated, time, finances and resources to help make CBM CARES® Philadelphia successful. I was selected to attend and represent CBM CARES® Philadelphia at the Rumble Young Man Rumble IV due to our work in Philadelphia.

What kind of data, whether it be qualitative or quantitative, are you using to measure your impact in the city of Philadelphia? 

We are using MentorCore data base to collect data and from this we are able to draw reports and numbers that help measure the impact of our program.  The organization also contracts with and independent evaluator that analyzes report card data and other program areas to help the program grow and improve. 

Since the organization’s founding, what are some of the core successes or crucial milestones that you’re most proud of?

We’ve worked with over 400 boys and 100 mentors in the last 4 years. We hosted our sites from: Columbia, SC, Prince George’s County and Washington, DC in 2012 at Arcadia College.  Last year, we received a grant from the City of Philadelphia to strengthen and promote awareness among our mentees, mentors and parents.

What are some of the activities that you facilitate within Concerned Black Men?

I facilitate weekly character development sessions in 4 Philadelphia Public School Middle Schools with 100 boys. I also research, plan, schedule, and attend monthly enrichment for the boys and mentors, as well as conduct orientation, and training sessions. I also represent CBM CARES® Philadelphia at community events as a presenter, and/or vendor.  CBM CARES® Philadelphia during the past year has taken our youth to Harlem, NY, conducted a summer basketball clinic and at Bethune School, hosted a Back to School Bash for our families, experienced the exhibits at the Franklin Institute, arranged for a Job Shadow Day with the Philadelphia 76ers and partnered with First Tee to run a golf clinic. Additionally, we run recognition events in December and June for all of our mentors/mentees/parents. Everyone that attends the events are recognized and given gifts from our program. Currently, we are in the progress of recruitment mentors and encourage any black male over 19 to reach out to our office at (215) 844-1880 and volunteer.

What has joining the CBMA network meant for your organization? 

It allows CBM National the opportunity to network with other like-minded organizations/individuals, to glean from and learn from those who are rich in experience. It also allows us to share our experiences as well.

What is the impact you’re hoping to have on the Black Male Achievement field as a whole?

It is my hope that we will all walk away with more knowledge/wisdom, a better appreciation for what we do, and the impact not only on the lives of the boys and mentors but the families of each of them, which ultimately makes a positive difference in our homes, communities, the nation and the world.

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