MINNEAPOLIS – In a "100 Strong Who Care" event Friday, more than 70 volunteer mentors met close to 100 high school students at Patrick Henry High School.
The Minneapolis Public School District uses the events to pair students with adult mentors from a variety of industries, but Friday's event had a specific theme.
"This is the first one geared towards African-American males," says James C. Burroughs, Executive Director of Equity and Diversity within the district. "We want to give them images of success."
With the gymnasium packed full of young men, many simply listened and asked questions to adults that have found success in careers ranging from ministry to medicine.
"It's critical that we let African-American youth know that it takes initiative and that we are there for them," said James Williams, owner of a healthcare clinic in Plymouth. "They have a future beyond being a rapper or athlete."
As district officials report a 43 percent graduation rate among African-Americans, events like the one on Friday help to spur on students and close a widening achievement gap.
"We need as many models of success as we can get," said Williams. "A different voice is good and it can tell them that they can do this."
"100 Strong" events take place throughout the year at various schools. Organizers hope the relationships built last well beyond one day.