For children to grow up and achieve their dreams — or identify interests and formulate dreams in the first place — they need to see what their aspirations might look like in practice. They need exposure to career pathways, continual mentorship, and a sense of belonging and inspiration. Too many children lack those building blocks, says C.J. Anderson, a running back for the Denver Broncos and founder of the Dreams Never Die Foundation, a nonprofit based in Anderson’s hometown of Vallejo, CA. The foundation’s first project is to build a recreational and college-prep center in town, with the spaces, mentorship, and programming that children need to turn dreams into achieveable goals.
In the third episode of Walking the Talk, Anderson joins host Domonic Rollins for a conversation exploring the resources and supports that low-income, inner-city youth need to become the next startup CEO, award-winning videographer, or pro athlete. Walking the Talk is a series of video conversations streamed live on Facebook, exploring challenging questions of diversity, inclusion, and identity as they are lived and expressed in the real world. See the first and second installments in the series.
Watch Rollins and Anderson’s live conversation, and read our takeaways below.
Mentoring Low-Income Youth
- Focus on students’ assets, rather than their deficits — what they can do, what they know, and what they have to support them.
- Provide youth with a safe space to do their homework and to develop their passions and interests.
- Create a relationship with children that’s based on mutual respect and understanding, not one of power or control.
- Invite professionals to come speak to youth about their careers, and bring children to those places of work so they can visualize the job of a video game programmer or a podcast host.
- Encourage students to do the hard work necessary for success.
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