Innovative e-mentoring program will help improve lives of black boys

United Way and Urban Youth Racing School receive Knight Foundation support to launch effort

Philadelphia, June 24, 2011 – An innovative new e-mentoring program will engage black professional men in the lives of Philadelphia’s black boys, the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania (UWSEPA) and the Urban Youth Racing School announced today.

An expansion of the Racing School’s What It Takes program, the e-mentoring effort aims to span the social networking, geographic and generational divide between mentors and mentees, while encouraging meaningful relationships. In particular, the program will focus on improving the boys’ emotional well-being, career awareness and attitudes towards school while helping black professional men become more involved in bettering their communities.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities, is funding the effort with a $490,000 grant.

“We know that one, caring adult in a young person’s life can make a life-changing difference in academic and personal success, but we also know that there are sometimes barriers to connecting with our youth that require creative solutions,” says Jill Michal, President and CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “Knight Foundation has provided us with an incredible opportunity to further the momentum of United Way's emerging work with local and national partners to improve the life outcomes of all in need, especially African American men and boys.”

This will be the first mentoring program in the Philadelphia region to employ technology to conduct web-based training, communication and engagement, particularly with a focus on the young African-American male population.  The e-mentoring program will support caring, structured relationships through vehicles like email, chat rooms and computer conference systems, to connect mentors with their mentees across time and/or distance. In addition, the mentors and mentees will have in-person meetings to help cement relationships.

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania will provide technical support to the Urban Youth Racing School in developing the e-mentoring platform, as well as in managing the program.

“E-mentoring reaches young men in a space both familiar and comfortable, while offering busy professionals an easier way to volunteer,” said Anthony Martin of the Urban Youth Racing School. “Research tells us that e-mentoring is an effective way to connect with our youth and we’re confident that this medium will allow both mentors and mentees the flexibility and freedom to connect in a meaningful way.”

“At Knight Foundation, we are continually working toward the creation of more informed and engaged communities,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Knight Foundation’s Philadelphia program director.  “This program uses technology to connect black men with black boys in hopes that they both become more informed and engaged citizens that seek to strengthen their communities.”

For more information or to get involved, please contact CYD@uwsepa.org.

About United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people’s lives. United Way engages the community to identify the underlying causes of the most significant local issues, develops strategies and pulls together financial and human resources to address them, and measures the results. United Way is advancing the common good in southeastern Pennsylvania by focusing on education for children, income for families and health for seniors. For more information about United Way, please visit: www.LIVEUNITEDsepa.org.

About Urban Youth Racing School

The Nationally acclaimed Urban Youth Racing School is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, with a second program in Washington DC. UYRS operates a complete full service mechanic/race shop that provides students with increased access to adults in a variety of professions. Through its instructional and mentoring programs the school “inspires…young men…to focus on education so they can create meaningful goals for success”.  For more, visit www.urbanyouthracingschool.com.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

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Contacts

  • Knight Foundation: Marc Fest, 305-908-2677, fest@knightfoundation.org
  • United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania: Sara Mahmood, P: 215-665-2509, smahmood@uwsepa.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.