How it Began — A New Way of Mentoring
Khari Lazarre-White and Jason Warwin have put a new twist on mentoring — by not only giving at-risk youth the tools for academic success, but by also nurturing the mind, body and spirit — their program helps African-American and Latino boys and girls find success.
Khari and Jason have been friends since they were five years old. During their senior year at Brown University, they discovered had a common desire — to help troubled youth transform themselves and their communities.
After graduation, they developed the Brotherhood/Sister Sol Program in Harlem to provide support, guidance, resources and love to African-American and Latino youth. The original participants "were young brothers who were selling drugs, not going to school, didn't have fathers in their lives, and needed support," says Jason. "The concept of 'Brotherhood' symbolized the importance of being men able to support men."
The success of the Brotherhood allowed Khari and Jason to add Sister Sol to their program for African-American and Latina young women. "I've seen so many dramatic changes in myself since I've started attending Sister Sol sessions," says one young woman. "My self-esteem has increased so much."
The Solution — Strong Role Models
"We need to be there in the sense of a true family, to do whatever we can to help them become successful," says Khari. "One of the things we felt from the beginning is that too often you hear about black and Latino youth 'surviving.' And that's not enough. We need to raise the bar — they also must excel."
About 100 young men and women now participate in the program each year. One young man in their program says, "Khari and Jason to me are like angels on your shoulder because they are always there."
Brotherhood/Sister Sol offers an after school program 5-6 days a week, tutoring opportunities, computer classes, summer camps, and an international study program that has taken students to Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Mexico. Khari says, "We study the history and the politics and the culture of the place that we go. It takes them to a whole other level, one which they never come back down from. It elevates them."
In addition to fun activities, the program also teaches kids about African-American and Latino history and offers educational workshops. Jason says, "What we end up doing often times is really trying to re-teach how men and women should interact with each other."
Brotherhood/Sister Sol is designed to support its participants for as long as they need it. One young man from the program says, "What really inspired me is I know that I have people in my corner that actually care about me and have interest in what I'm going to be and who I am going to be when I get older."