By Miya Jones
The mission of DonCares of Philadelphia is to provide minority youths with guidance and an education, and founder, Donovan Forrest, believes that with education, you can really go places. “Education can transform your life,” said Forrest. “Education is the way out.” The need for mentorship and education in the northern Philadelphia community is being fulfilled through the new organization, DonCares of Philadelphia, started by one of Temple University’s own. The organization hopes to accomplish its goal of mentorship through educational workshops, tutoring and quality one-on-one time with each child.
The organization was founded in September of last year. Fast-forward a year later, and the organization has a dedicated staff of nine board members and five executive board members with successful workshops at Bethune Elementary School and The U School under their belt. Most of the people in the organization are Temple students as well.
Temple University junior and Treasurer, Crystal Anokam, explained that she not only wants to help children obtain an education, but help them figure out how to accept themselves for who they are. “I think it’s important that as a mentor I’m myself because we live in a society where people are constantly told that it’s not okay to be yourself,” said Anokam.
“Kids learn from what they see. They emulate what others do. So when they see you being yourself they are most likely going to be themselves too.”
Anokam also brought up how the many negative images of African-Americans can be detrimental and harmful to the black community.
Temple University senior and Community Liaison, Leroy Mapp, said that it is essential for minorities to have someone mentor them who looks like them in order to combat these negative stereotypes.
“There’s this thing called the white savior complex and growing up in society this is what we are exposed to,” said Mapp. “A person of another skin color is usually your teacher or your educator. So to see someone that is educated, knowledgeable and mentoring you and has the same skin tone is very imperative and inspirational.”
In the next five to ten years, the organization hopes to offer scholarships and educational field trips to the at-risk youth. Being that the founder of this very organization was an at-risk youth himself, he knows all to well how having positive mentors and an education can make the difference.
“When I say I was ‘at-risk’ I was troubled,” said Forrest. I had behavior issues, the whole nine yards. Ultimately I realized the road I was on would not lead me anywhere. Luckily I had a mother, a strong black women, who actually instilled in me the value of education. She was a schoolteacher and throughout my deviance I actually came back to how I was raised. So I decided to attend university and here I am trying to complete my degree.”