Change Happens uplifts Black boys through mentorship
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Noah Jackson was only a junior at Jake Yates High School when he was first introduced to the My Brother’s Keeper “Each One of Us” Mentoring Program in partnership with the Houston non-profit Change Happens.

The self-described sheltered and shy student said the participating in the program helped improve his self-esteem while connecting with Black male mentors who uplifted him throughout his academic journey.

The goal of My Brother’s Keeper is to connect young boys and men of color between the ages of 14 and 19 with caring adults by partnering with local businesses and organizations who share similar visions to support youth.

“Change Happens and My Brother’s Keeper, these organizations have impacted me because it showed me the true definition of what a man should be. It gave me a sense of community,” said Jackson. “There are other young men of color who have similar life experiences or even worse, but they still return to educate the young ones coming up behind them, the same way my mentors did for me.”

Jackson, who is now a third-year college student at Prairie View A&M University, will be one of the youth speakers at the Change Happens annual luncheon Friday, Nov. 4 at the Junior League of Houston, Inc.

This is the organization’s 17th annual luncheon to raise funds to support the 19 programs it operates along with more than 60,000 people served every year.

“This is our one big fundraiser that allows us to support the many initiatives we run and to bridge the gap in support that our grants don’t allow us to do such as buying food for our clients and covering transportation to get them to and from whatever services they need,” said Marcus Brewer, special projects and development director at Change Happens.

“Many of the organizations we work with provide amazing services and the extra funds will help the things they need to take their services to another level and serve more individuals.”

Brewer said the luncheon is about much more than raising money, asking more people to step up in the community and get involved.

“We need more Black men to be mentors to our youth here especially in the My Brother’s Keeper program,” he said. “It’s only four hours a month and it’s based on the flexibility of your schedule. However, you can extend to your wisdom and support to our youth, the better leaders they can be.”

Jackson has one message for youth who are interested in following his footsteps.

“You have nothing to lose by joining an organization like this. If I didn’t have the encouragement, I would have been worse off, he said. “Growing up I had my mom, grandmother, great-grandmother, and my older brother who raised me and Change Happens was the cherry on top. I am capable of being a leader. I am somebody in this world. I’ll never take it for granted.”

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Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...