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Mayor's proclamation begins year-long mentor program

Thomas O'Neil-White

Drums rang out as young boys made their way up the steps of City Hall on Tuesday. Mayor Byron Brown proclaimed August 6, 2019 as My Brother’s Keeper Entrepreneurship Day in the City of Buffalo.

My Brother’s Keeper is an Obama-era federal mentorship program which pairs young boys of color with local men in leadership positions in the community. Kicking off its third year, the emphasis this year is to build entrepreneurial skills and learn about controlling economics in their communities.

Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said the program has been beneficial to his students.

“When our young people get engaged in these kinds of strong cultural and civic activities,” he said. “They’re attendance goes up. Their academic achievement goes up.”

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Cash says many students face difficult life conditions, and he believes more inner-city youth should be involved with programs like MBK.

Board of Education President Sharon Belton-Cottman said the program would be nonexistent if it were not for the dedication of its mentors.

“We have the men in our community standing here to take the hands of these young men and move them to the next level. Its serious business going on up in here,” she said

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

On a sunny day, Belton-Cottman warned the assembled crowd of onlookers to put their sunglasses on because, she said, the future for the children is bright.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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