On April 14th, Usher’s New Look Chief Operations Officer, Gavin McGuire, represented our organization in front of the Ohio House of Representatives. Usher’s New Look’s digital Music Leadership 101 curriculum is currently empowering youth in two Ohio school districts. Leaders of mentoring programs active in the state participated on a panel and offered advice to lawmakers on how to reach young Ohioans before they fall into a cycle of dropping out of school or crime. Other panel participants included Carolyn Winslow with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butler County, Susanna Krey with Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and Pastor Frederick Lamarr with Shepherding the Next Generation. For more information on the panel, read the overview below from the Ohio House of Representatives.
“Chair Rep. Tim Derickson (R-Oxford) said he’s learned that poverty is generational and ‘the need for mentorship is great’ to ensure that the cycle is broken. He asked how the organizations deal with young people who are surrounded by family or friends who aren’t supportive.
Mr. McGuire said it is important to work case-by-case to encourage young people as well as their parents to coach them through life changes. Further, there is a need to help Ohioans understand and trust assistance programs, whether they are scholarships social services programs.
Mr. Lamarr said ‘it’s all about relationships,’ adding that mentoring works best when the person working within the organization is sincerely invested in the young person’s future.
Ms. Krey noted that her mentoring program has worked ‘from the inside out’ by connecting with community members who will encourage mentorship and related opportunities.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters places a priority on building trust with social workers and the organization because most mentees don’t have reliable adult figures in their lives and are unsure about whether a mentor will be helpful to them, Ms. Winslow said.
‘There are lots of families that aren’t entirely supportive so you work through that child,’ she said.
Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) said she is a strong advocate for mentoring and asked the panel to provide suggestions about how the General Assembly can improve or increase the number of mentoring programs in the state.
Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) asked Mr. McGuire about the age at which students start working with Usher’s New Look in Cincinnati. Youth can begin enrolling in seventh grade and they are followed through college, he said. The organization is looking to expand its model to include children at a younger age.”