Afrocentric Summer Mentorship & Enrichment Program

This year, we hosted our fourth annual Afrocentric Summer Mentorship & Enrichment Program. The program included virtual live sessions for youth ages 12 to 17 on Saturdays during July and August. We introduced them to Afrocentric principles that were matched with an academic discipline or life skill. Each week students, alongside their mentors, got to engage in valuable discussions, fun activities, and inspiring lessons. Sessions began with some fun icebreakers, followed by a presentation from an accomplished guest speaker, and then a Q+A period. The mentors then had time with their mentees in their mentor pods, where they explored the theme further.


Our first session consisted of fascinating lessons and discussions featuring our charismatic guest speaker, Duance (D.O.) Gibson. The Guiness World Record-setting rapper, author and University graduate shared his love of music and how it has helped shape his story today. Our theme of the week was music, in relation to the Afrocentric principle of Kuumba (creativity). This week’s activities and discussions explored the creative power of music and how it’s been used to promote resilience in oneself and throughout Black history. Mentees and mentors worked together to create personalized music playlists that showcase their interests and personalities. Furthermore, they explored and analyzed music used throughout historic Black moments such as the Civil Rights Movement and the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. This allowed mentors and mentees to recognize the impact of music in Black culture and how we can use it to maintain our power.


Week two was packed with inspirational discussions and calming activities featuring the captivating multidisciplinary artist, educator and Reiki Practitioner Kayla Carter! Kayla shared their words of wisdom about following your own destiny despite the adversities one may face. This week’s theme was stress & resilience in relation to the Afrocentric principle of Kujichagulia (self-determination). This week’s activities and discussions explored how to find your purpose and make meaningful choices for ourselves. Mentors and mentees learned how to acknowledge and cope with stress as well as how to take control of our lives!


The third week consisted of uplifting and impactful activities and discussions featuring the enlightening storyteller, educator and artist Tanika Riley! Tanika is the co-founder of POR-AMOR, a non-profit organization invested in encouraging and empowering self-discovery in spirituality and culture. Tanika used her gift of story telling to share with us her story. This week’s theme was English in relation to the Afrocentric principle Kujieleza (self-expression). Mentors and mentees explored using writing as a means of self-expression by writing short stories and poems that reflected their identities.


Week four marked the halfway point of the program! It consisted of fun and empowering activities and discussions featuring the award-winning journalist, producer and social justice advocate Jayde Tynes. Jayde shared her story of how she confronts social issues and promotes change in her community. This week’s theme was civics and Ujima (collective responsibility/teamwork). This week’s activities and discussions focused on the importance of civic engagement. Mentors and mentees discussed issues in their communities they’re passionate about and how to strengthen civic efficacy. Students also began work on their capstone projects this session. They brainstormed innovative solutions to issues they identified within their communities from mental health issues and imposter syndrome in schools to air pollution and invasive species in our environment. We were excited to see students begin thinking about how they can create lasting positive change within their communities.


Our fifth session was filled with compelling activities and discussions on this week’s theme of biology & medicine, in relation to the Afrocentric principle of Nia (purpose). It also featured clinical psychiatrist, mental health educator and activist Dr. Chanelle Ramsubick as our guest speaker! Dr. Chanelle is committed to promoting health and wellness in and out of her practice. She shared with us her experiences of being both a doctor and activist, supporting Black and Brown communities as they have been neglected within health and medicine. This week’s activities and discussions explored different types of medicines, their uses as well as different career paths within the medical field. Participants were able to deepen their understanding of medicine and wellness!


Week six was filled to with brim with exciting activities and discussions and featured the Rackeb Tesfaye- PhD candidate, science communicator and community advocate. Rackeb is the founder of Broad Science, a podcast aimed at making science “inclusive, engaging and intersectional” by sharing stories and voices from science professionals within the community. This week’s theme was psychology & neuroscience in relation to the Afrocentric principle of Imani (faith/believing in oneself). The activities and discussions focused on the importance of understanding and caring for our brains. Mentors and mentees explored the basic structures of the brain as well as their functions. They also participated in fun activities that taught them how to engage their brains while studying!


Week seven was our final session of the summer! This last week included informative and practical activities and discussions, featuring the knowledgeable entrepreneur, business and investment consultant, Amoye Henry! Amoye shared her experiences advocating and helping small businesses in her community. This week’s theme was financial literacy, in relation to the Afrocentric principle, Ujamaa (cooperative economics). This week’s activities and discussions were about managing personal finances and the importance of cooperative economics. Mentors and mentees discussed keys to financial literacy as well as sharing wealth in the form of communitarian exchange (sharing and cooperating). Student groups also presented their completed capstone projects on solutions to issues they saw in their communities! We concluded the session with our annual award ceremony and time to recognize our incredible team of volunteer mentors!