FLINT — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint and Genesee County will host its 14th annual Mentoring Inspiration Breakfast Jan. 20 at Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, 4100 S. Saginaw St., with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.
BBBS Director of Development Taffy L. Jones said the breakfast has two purposes – to celebrate Mentoring Month and to celebrate the good works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Howard C. Stevenson. Stevenson has more than 29 years’ experience working as a clinical and consulting psychologist in lowincome rural and urban neighborhoods across the country.
He is currently the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education and Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. He has written numerous peer-reviewed publications, and he is the author of the teaching book “Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools.” His research publications and clinical work have been funded by the W.T. Grant Foundation, Annenberg Foundation and the National Institutes of Mental Health and Child Health and Human Development.
Stevenson also serves as director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative (REC). The REC is a research, program development and training center that brings together community leaders, researchers, authority figures, families and youth to study and promote racial literacy and health in schools and neighborhoods.
His research led to curriculum development for PLAAY – Preventing Long-term Aggression and Anger in Youth. The PLAAY curriculum teaches youth racial literacy, the ability to read, recast, change and resolve racially stressful encounters bringing awareness and healing for youth. Addressing racial stress through building coping skills is a strategy that targets boys of color.
Reta Stanley, chief executive officer for BBBS of Flint and Genesee County, said members of her staff and the community have received racial literacy training with Stevenson about preventing long-term anger and aggression in youth.
“Racial literacy has to do with an understanding of skills in responding to situations that have racial implications,” she said. “We were afforded the opportunity to train with him and really talk about race in the communities and how our children and we, as adults, respond. We look at how we’re able to deal with those situations in a way that is healthy for us.”
Stanley said Stevenson’s program primarily targets boys of color because they experience discrimination throughout their lives more often than other groups.
“The opportunities are not as great for young men of color,” she said. “They have been the target of racial discrimination throughout history and are more likely to be entered into the juvenile justice system. Through our program at Big Brothers Big Sisters, we see that in the population we’ve worked with to find mentors for them. The gaps in resources are there for them even for a mentor.”
Stevenson also is the brother of attorney Bryan Stevenson, whose work to free an innocent man from prison is detailed in the movie “Just Mercy,” which is currently in theaters.
The Mentoring Inspiration Breakfast is open to the public, with admission of $15. Advance admission purchases are requested and available online at www.bbbsflint.org or at the BBBS office, 410 E. Second St. For more information or to RSVP, call Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint and Genesee County at 810-235-0617 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.