Mighty Men of Valor

Mighty Men of Valor Mentoring Program

Mighty Men of Valor is a start-up mentoring program that serves approximately 75 boys and young men ages 8 – 18 who live throughout Genesee County, although 90 percent of program participants reside within the City of Flint. The vast majority, 99 percent, of program participants are African Americans who reside in poverty stricken areas with high crime and unemployment rates. All mentoring and related program activities are held at the Ministry and Community Center, located in Burton, Michigan — less than a mile from the City of Flint boundary line.

Program Goals

  • Positively impact the participants’ personal development,
  • Positively impact the participants’ academic achievement and behavior, and
  • Provide positive role models for program participants.

To achieve these goals, approximately 50 mentors meet with approximately 75 boys between the ages of 8 and 18 every Sunday morning from 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. for roundtable discussions at the Ministry and Community Center. Seated at every table are the boys, an elder mentor in the age range of 60 – 80 years, an older mentor between the ages of 30 – 59 years, and a junior mentor between the ages of 20 – 29 years. The thought behind the age groupings is that the wisdom will flow from the eldest mentor through the older mentor, through the junior mentor, and finally to the program participants. In this way, program participants can hear numerous different experiences and perspectives of the varying aged mentors – and the mentors will have the greatest chance to relate to the boys – and can have the greatest positive impact on their lives.

Every Sunday, the mentors and program participants meet ready to discuss the day’s established curriculum. Topics range from communication and/or problems with parents or authority figures, intimate relationships and sex, school and education, drug and alcohol use, respecting themselves and others, responsible decision making, and more. It is also important to note that the setting is flexible enough and safe enough for participants to introduce separate topics that are of importance to them on that day or at that time in their lives. Although the program does have a recommended curriculum with topics for each session, it is flexible enough to be sensitive to the needs of participants.

Thus when a topic of greater importance for that moment is introduced, mentors take the time needed to discuss it with program participants.

As part of the weekly mentoring services, the Mighty Men of Valor program provides the following additional services to participating young men between the ages of 8 and 18.

  • Mentoring
  • Academic Assessments and Tutoring (beginning January 2008)
  • Leadership Skills
  • Employment Referrals
  • Crisis Counseling (beginning January 2008)
  • Conflict Resolution Skills

Plans For Program Additions Include

  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • Business Skills
  • Financial Literacy Counseling

Uniqueness of Program

The Mighty Men of Valor mentoring program is unique to the State of Michigan – and possibly the region or country – in a couple of respects:

  1. The mentors and program participants meet on Sunday mornings during the traditional Sunday school time, which is optimal for this program. It is at this time that the mentors are already at the church (many would have come to attend Sunday School and others are simply off work and find it a convenient meeting time) and the same is true of program participants. Mothers of the program participants have also indicated that it is a convenient time for them to bring their children to the mentoring sessions.
  2. The intergenerational approach and multiple age groupings of the mentoring sessions are unprecedented. Placing mentors in three varying age groups at the same table with program participants gives the program participants the benefit of hearing different “voices of wisdom” from different time periods – which undoubtedly have a great impact on the participants.

Mentoring Impact

Research has shown time and time again that mentoring works. A recent Research Brief published by Child Trends and titled, “Mentoring: A Promising Strategy for Youth Development,” found that youth who participate in mentoring relationships experience a number of positive benefits. In terms of educational achievement, mentored youth have better attendance; a better chance of going on to higher education; and better attitudes towards school. In terms of health and safety, mentoring appears to help prevent substance abuse and reduce some negative youth behaviors. On the social and emotional development front, taking part in mentoring promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them. They also feel they get more emotional support from their friends than do youth who are not mentored.

Mentoring can help young people develop better relationships with their families and other adults. Mentoring has also been linked with psychological benefits. Some research has established that young people matched with mentors experienced a reduction in feelings of hopelessness. Mentoring has been shown to have a positive effect on some forms of delinquent behavior, including skipping school, skipping class, initiating drug and alcohol use, getting into physical fights, etc.

Local Mighty Men of Valor Impact

All feedback from the MMV program has been impressively positive to date. Parents of mentored children have credited the program for making a positive difference in the lives of their sons, student grades have improved, and mentors have commented on noticeable improvements in the attitudes and conversations of those being mentored.