Mentoring College Students On The Power of Relationships!

tlc what about your friends

The girl group TLC sang about it 20 years ago, and it’s still a challenge on college campuses everywhere, that’s right making and breaking friendships.
In my latest blog series for JET,  The Freshman Memoirs , I feature current college students and the lessons they learned throughout their college careers.  This serves as an excellent way to mentor incoming freshman so that they can be aware of the steps of a successful college career.  This week, I highlight the experience of Nyia Fairley, a sophomore at Hampton University who shares her experience of maintaining a lifelong friendship in her first year of college.  Check out Nyia’s story in JET here.
Interested in learning more about how I can connect and work with students on your campus?  Send an email to, and check out this brochure for Polished Pebbles, The College Edition here.


Only 18% of Black Girls Proficient in Reading?

blackstar girls overlookedblackstar logo

Today, I’d like to share a story written by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu in the “Black Star Journal” which is entitled, “Have Black Girls Been Overlooked?” “The Black Star Journal” is the news and events archive of The Black Star Project, an organization in Chicago led by Phillip Jackson.  Kunjufu’s article highlights alarming statistics about the dire situation that many black girls are facing as they are being educated in schools across the country such as, high rates of illiteracy, high drop out rates, and some of the highest rates of school suspensions.  For many us that have been closely involved with working with African American girls, this is not news.  In fact, I’ve blogged about some of the research that this article is based on months ago.  I share this today not as an attempt to object to or criticize the President’s National Initiative to support black boys, “My Brother’s Keeper.”  Nor, should this be considered as an endorsement for much of the debate in the social media movement #WhyWeCantWait.

No, I am merely a mentoring practitioner who wants more in our community to recognize how much ALL of our youth, including our girls, are in need of support, resources, and advocacy in ensuring that our schools are providing our children with adequate educational opportunities.  Because if it’s true that only 18% of black girls are proficient in reading, then etiquette lessons, girl empowerment conferences, and fun field trips are not enough to remedy this tragedy!

Mentoring Our Young Ladies on College Campuses!

Shemiah Curry
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In my latest blog series for JET, The Freshman Memoirs , I feature current college students and their various experiences throughout their college careers. This week, I highlight the experience of Shemiah Curry, a rising junior at Bennett College in North Carolina.  Shemiah, a White House intern, shares how critical it is to carefully read your financial aid award letter, or be sorry! Read Shemiah’s story here!
Interested in learning more about how I can connect and work with students on your campus?  Send an email to, and check out this brochure for Polished Pebbles, The College Edition here:

Celebrating Another Year of Mentoring Girls in Chicago!

As you complete either major projects, summer initiatives, or even programming years with your youth mentoring programs, it’s always important to celebrate your victories through documentation and photographs.  It’s a great way to historically document your achievements as an organization, the achievements of the youth that you serve, demonstrate the achievements of contributing staff and volunteers, and it also serves as some evidence of your potential impact as a youth mentoring program.  This celebratory documentation can be in the format of individualized letters or communications with pictures directed towards specific stakeholders like partnering schools, organizations, and sponsors. You can share it in printed or electronic newsletters, or on social media as well.  And, it also can give you a great opportunity to motivate potential donors to give to your organization as well.  So, to mark the end of another successful programming year with my mentoring program Polished Pebbles I’ve decided to share some of our year-end newsletter with you!  Enjoy!

And, if you feel moved….you can donate to Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program here: GIVE!!!








College Freshman Memoirs: The Blue Print For Success

A Jackson State University Student Share 4 Tips You Need To Know….
william owens


jet logoThis summer,  in blog series for JET Magazine, I’m featuring “The Freshman Memoirs” from current college students who want to share with incoming freshmen the experiences and advice they’ve learned in their college careers.  In this week’s edition, William Owens, a rising senior at Jackson State University, shares tips that helped him successfully transition to living and studying in the South.



Often Unheard: Perspective of The Black Male College Student

Yaw Kesse Photo

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Freshman Memoirs: From Chicago to The Cornfields

In my latest blog series for JET, “The Freshman Memoirs,” I feature current college students and their various experiences throughout their college careers.

This week, I highlight the perspective of a young black male undergraduate student, Yaw Kesse, who shares his lessons learned during his freshman year!

Get Motivated to Mentor This Summer!

During the Polished Pebbles Volunteer Orientation a couple of months ago, we asked our volunteers to share their motivation for volunteering. There were a wide range of responses, but one thing that held true was the lasting affect of a supportive mentor relationship!

Watch the video of their testimonials  & get the motivation to give back this summer to  your community!

Guiding College Students in Peer Mentoring!

taylor carr

Taylor Carr, Polished Pebbles Intern


In my latest blog series for JET, “The Freshman Memoirs,” I am featuring current college students, and their share their various experiences throughout their college careers.  We are targeting incoming freshman with these “memoirs”  so that they can learn from the older students’ experiences and get their college careers off to a great start! This week,  I’m focusing on the challenges many students face when trying to obtain financial aid, and I’m  highlighting Taylor’s memoir of how she made her dream of studying at Howard University a reality!

A rising junior at Howard University, Taylor will also be interning with Polished Pebbles this summer!

My Workshop on Blogging to Expand Mentoring!

Tutor mentor institute


On Monday, May 12 The Chicago Community Trust hosted a series of dinners throughout the Chicago region where almost 10,000 people met new people and shared ideas for making the Chicago region a better place for everyone to live, work and raise kids.

Next Monday, May 19, I’ll be hosting a workshop at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference ( This event is part of an on-going strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), launched by Dan Bassill in 1993. Bassill started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975. He started reaching out to peers to gather them for networking events, similar to the OnTheTable2014 events, in 1976.

Dan created the T/MC in 1993 to try to bring people together to network, learn, build trust, share ideas, and to create advertising-type visibility that would draw support to all city and Chicago suburbs. He created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 help the T/MC grow in Chicago and to support the growth of similar intermediaries in other cities.

Over the past few years the idea of “collective effort” or people from many sectors working together to solve a community problem, has gained much visibility in non profit and public circles, fueled by articles on the Stanford Social Innovation Review web site.  This article constantly refers the need bringing people together to solve community problems, and that’s what Dan Bassill has been doing for over 20 years.  In addition to organizing conferences, Dan maintains a web library with links to articles like this and his goal is that people from many sectors dig deeper into this information on an on-going basis so that ideas from many places can be used to support the growth of mentor-rich programs in Chicago area neighborhoods.

As a result of his professional mentoring, Dan has always encouraged me to attend and present in his Tutor/Mentor Leadership & Networking Conference to grow my career and skill sets.  In the upcoming conference on May 19th, I will share my experience in developing and implementing my own blog, I’ll discuss how my blog has helped me to expand my reach and resources for growing my mentoring program, Polished Pebbles (, and how I’ve been able to use it as a tool to support the entire mentoring community!

If you’re concerned with the well-being of youth, the future of the workforce, and the social capital in the Chicago region, I encourage you to register and attend the Tutor/Mentor Conference next Monday. Dan and I and others look forward to meeting you.  Register here: