COLUMBUS (WCMH) - The City of Columbus has awarded six grants totaling $100,000 for programs aimed at empowering boys and young men of color. The funding comes from the city’s My Brother's Keeper program.
Mayor Andrew Ginther said he’s committed to closing the achievement gap.
“We must address, acknowledge and address, the disparities that exist today for boys and young men of color,” Ginther said during a ceremony at the Rickenbacker Woods Foundation on Livingston Avenue.
The Rickenbacker Woods Foundation will receive a $20,000 grant to fund an after-school program focused on reading proficiency. The program will be staffed by students from Capital University who will receive work-study funding for their participation.
Mike Aaron, executive director of the Rickenbacker Woods Foundation said children in the area routinely knock on the facility’s door asking if any activities are planned. “They come by and they want something to do, some structure, that’s what we’re finding out,” Aaron said. “People say ‘oh, these kids aren’t interested in structure,’ Oh yes they are.”
Capital student Samantha Montanez will help coordinate the effort targeting second through fifth-grade students in the near east side. “I grew up in areas similar to this and I grew up with people who needed mentors and weren’t as fortunate as their schoolmates,” Montanez said. “They need mentors and they need places to grow and to be unapologetically themselves and so this is an area for that.”
Carnell Willoughby will be a part of another new program run by the Maroon Arts Group on Mount Vernon Ave. Willoughby will present workshops on nutrition, cooking and food service for teenage boys. “Most often inner-city youth come from areas where there are food swamps and food deserts,” Willoughby said. “They don’t have access to clean foods. They don’t have access to fresh produce. And most often the cornerstones that are in the area are just packed with food s that are not healthy for them.”
Willoughby said the program will also help the teenager better engage with the negative dynamics in their communities. “So introducing them to a better way of life and a better way of eating will help them holistically ... mentally, physically and spiritually.”
The 2018 My Brother’s Keeper Grant Awards:
- Rickenbacker Woods Foundation: $12,000
- Maroon Arts Group: $20,000
- Central Community House: $20,000
- Columbus Urban League: $14,000
- Community Refugee and Immigration Services: $20,000
- The Ohio State University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Division of Medical Dietetics and OSU Extension: $14,000