National CARES Mentoring Movement is a pioneering community-galvanizing movement dedicated to alleviating intergenerational poverty among African Americans. It offers Black children in low-income families and unstable communities the social, emotional and academic supports they need to unleash their potential and graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college or vocational-training programs and 21st-century careers. We employ two primary strategies. The proven-effective, consciousness-shifting model, ideated and built by experts over a decade, unearths hope and resilience in our young living with trauma-causing impacts of poverty—homelessness, hunger, unrelenting violence, gravely under-resourced schools and overwhelmed parents and teachers. The traumatic stress children in poverty live with fuels mental illness and physical disease, including anxiety, depression, hypertension, substance abuse, obesity, violence and also the recent spike in suicide.
Founded in 2006 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as Essence CARES, while Susan L. Taylor was chief editor of Essence magazine, it is the mission of National CARES Mentoring Movement to transform the lives of Black children by inspiring, recruiting and mobilizing masses of caring Black men and women to mentor and nourish, challenge and champion them. Today, CARES is the recognized national leader in the recruitment, training and engagement of Black mentors. These programs address the severe shortfall of Black mentors nationally; and we are sought after by hundreds of organizations that look to us for desperately needed, committed volunteers.
Transforming the lives of Black children by inspiring, recruiting and mobilizing masses of caring Black men and women to mentor and nourish, challenge and champion them.
Anchored by a 58 U.S-city affiliate network, we are the nation’s recognized leader in the recruitment, training and engagement of African American mentors, and the only organization providing holistic programming on a national scale to undergird and advance impoverished Black children by providing them with the emotional, social, academic and career-readiness support they must have to become self-sustaining, successful contributors to our society.
To reclaim and restore communities, especially under-served communities of color, National CARES has created a variety of programs that are tailored to meet the needs of both children and the adults who guide and care for them. Our group-mentoring programs for children, THE RISINGS, are designed to support young people who are disproportionately at risk of falling outside the mainstream education and workforce systems. We use culturally anchored and healing-centered approaches to engage, train, and deploy volunteer mentors, and we also work with adults who encircle our students, such as educators, school administrators and parents.
Board members: Reginald Van Lee, Stuart K. Archibald, Geoffrey Canada, Vivian R. Pickard and Lt. Col. Michael Walker (ret.). Locations of our group mentoring programs: Brooklyn, NY, Atlanta, GA, Seattle, WA, Detroit, MI, Chicago, IL, Broward and Dade Counties, FL
key milestones and achievements
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, National CARES has taken advantage of its unique position as an organization deeply rooted in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus and deepened its programming. Recent achievements include uninterrupted delivery of its programming by moving it to online platforms and deliberately strengthening community connections to ensure better wellness outcomes. Beginning March 19, National CARES launched a 15-week series of virtual community wellness gatherings, creating a space for healing and sharing of coping techniques to ground our participants in wellness practices. The series provided the much-needed support and culturally anchored compassionate spaces that Black Americans were seeking as they were burdened by the impacts of the pandemic.
National CARES also launched similar Wellness Mentoring Circles for the children it serves in Seattle, New York City and several locations in Florida (Miami-Dade and Broward counties). The Wellness Mentoring Circles for children were facilitated by CARES-trained psychologists who also performed individualized wellness check-ins for students, many of whom were experiencing heightened anxiety due to the disruption of school and fears for their family members. Children participating in the virtual circles have responded with overwhelming positivity, letting facilitators know that they were deeply appreciative of a space where they could process the increased feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Students also hailed the support network that the circles fostered, which allowed them to better cope with the negative impacts of the pandemic. Additionally, National CARES delivered without interruption its workforce-readiness program for adults, UNIVERSITY FOR PARENTS (U4P). To ensure access to the online platform National CARES also secured donations of laptops and hotspots and distributed them to program participants in March so that parent-learners could continue their classes. U4P was then able to hold its graduation ceremony online and on time in June.
At Harlan Academy in the Southside of Chicago, over 70% of the students are wards of the state. They are either in the foster care system or in the juvenile justice system. Many students have developed a hard shell to protect them from the pain and disappointment that they experience. The RISING has provided Harlan students with caring mentors, trained psychologists and the tools that they need to forge a new future for themselves.
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