Jazz has taught me that it is nearly impossible to affect your surroundings without being honest with self and therefore your writing. As she would say, “what comes from the heart reaches the heart.”

– Mentee Joshua Merchant, 20 years old

98% of all mentored youth complete their high school education and enter adulthood with tools and assets that lead to success and fulfillment.

In order to truly change our community for the better, we must all take an active part to be the change we wish to see in the world. Making a personal investment in changing someone else’s life and being a posivite influence is something that’s helped my personal growth as well as the larger community. If it wasn’t for the mentors I had in my life, I’m not sure I would be the person I am today.

I met Jazz at the age of 14 while I was attending Leadership Excellence’s Camp Akili. Around this time, my life was taking an interesting turn because my family had just been split up due to domestic abuse and I as the oldest of my siblings, I was forced to be more responsible in helping my mother in the household, both financially and morally. I can honestly say that Jazz has been there as a huge support and teacher throughout my developmental years and especially when I became pregnant at 15 years old. Jazz came to my first doctor’s appointment as well as did a lot of talking with me about being a young mother and how to approach my situation in the healthiest way possible.

She gave me books on pregnancy and early childhood life, taught me how to construct my diet as an expecting mother, and gave me advice on how to persevere through school and stay on top of business. Anytime I needed Jazz she was available to support me, and I named her godmother of my son. I can honestly say that as a mentor, Jazz gave me a big push when my life became hectic and overwhelming by continuously advising me in the right direction. She definitely played a huge hand in my graduation from high school and attendance at San Francisco State University as well as being a present mother for my son.

Mentors such as herself are necessary in the community for at-risk and troubled youth such as myself and others like me.

– Mentee Maua Nzingha Nyamekye, 17 years old