Improve Your Tomorrow

Monthly Newsletter

September 2022

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We're Closing the College-opportunity Gap for

Young Men of Color

Letter from Lynch

Hello everyone and welcome back to IYT’s monthly newsletter. My name is Michael Lynch, I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Improve Your Tomorrow. We’ve got a lot to share with you in this month's edition, we’re welcoming our newest cohort of mentor fellows who will be providing services to our largest IYT class yet, over thirty-seven hundred IYT brothers from across 7 counties. But I wanted to first just send a big thank you to the thousands of you who engage with us online, your engagement is critical in our movement to close the college opportunity gap for young men of color and provide transformational programming to the IYT brothers in your community. 

This School year marks the TEN-YEAR milestone for IYT! What began as a volunteer effort to provide love, support, and encouragement to seventeen young men of color who didn’t see themselves as college graduates, has become a fast-growing multi-generational, multi-regional movement based on mentorship. With each graduating class of IYT brothers that go to college, we are seeing brothers returning the favor by choosing to serve as mentors for the next generation of young men. This cycle of service not only helps our brothers navigate through school but provides a constant role model for our young men to strive toward. 

As we begin this school year, I ask you to think about your own educational or career journey, if you’ve benefited from having the guidance of a mentor or someone to help you navigate big decisions, then consider supporting our cause. We provide this crucial relationship to young men of color, ensuring that starting in 7th grade and through college, they will always have someone to turn to for whatever life brings. 

Thank you for your support and I’ll forward to seeing you next month!

With gratitude, 

Michael Lynch

CEO & Co-Founder

Our Tenth Year of Service Starts Now!

Meet Our Newest Cohort of Mentor Fellows 

We held a engaging welcome ceremony, complete with an IYT staple–a welcome tunnel comprised of the entire IYT Team–for our first cohort of Mentor Fellows! This year, our mentors will serve over 135,000 combined hours in schools and campuses across Sacramento, Northern Central Valley, and the Bay Area and support 3,700 young men of color to and through their academic journeys.

Reflecting on the week, Louis Braga, our Program Director for the Mentor Fellowship Program stated,"It was amazing to see the room filled with so many people of color who pledged to serve their communities! Hearing their motivations for doing so made me feel so honored to share the space with them. I look forward to hearing all of the great stories that will come from this years cohort and of all the ways they impact our brothers.”

The welcome ceremony was part of a week-long orientation that helps our mentors not only build camaraderie amongst each other, but gain a better understanding of our mission and the impact they can make in the lives of our members. Getting the chance to hear our mentors reasons for serving filled us all with deep sense of hope and appreciation for the passion these young leaders are bringing. We are humbled to be able to support such a dedicated and diverse group of youth mentors. We'd like to thank AmeriCorps and California Volunteers for their vital support of our Mentor Fellows and dedication to helping us close the college-opportuntiy gap for young men of color. 

VIDEO: Hear about why our Mentors are serving. 

SoCal College Trip Builds Bonds and Motivates College-bound Dreams 

Last month, our mentors and programs team took 20 brothers down to L.A. for a weekend trip to visit two of our state's largest colleges, UCLA and USC. During their tours of the schools, our brothers were also able to connect directly with current students and alumni of color, who gave them insight into what student life is like. Sydney, a recent pre-med graduate from UCLA, engaged brothers in a deep and candid conversation, answering their questions honestly and telling them how she was able to form meaningful connections on campus by joining clubs like the Black Student Union while successfully pursuing her degree. Sydney also talked about how she navigated financial aid and how getting a job at the school helped her cover her housing cost.

At USC brothers got the chance to tour the campus and meet Terrence, who’s a senior and works in the student affairs office at the college. Terrence shed light on the joys of being a part of student communities in college and how his job at student affairs is helping him thrive and meet new people. 

Many of the brothers that attended the weekend trip are planning to be first-gen college students and are part of IYT’s Project Rise program, which helps young men of color successfully exit the juvenile justice system, graduate HS, and pursue college. Like all of IYT College Trips, brothers were treated to apparel at both of the universities stores (who doesn’t love swag!?). “The gear is important because it helps them take something home and hold as a reminder of their motivations for going to college” George Nze, Project Rise Specialist stated. 

Reflecting on the trip, George continued saying, “our brothers kept saying they could see themselves here which I loved hearing considering how new of an experience this was for them.” 

College trips are an integral part of how we address the college- achievement gap. By coordinating intentional and culturally relevant trips for students as early as 7th grade, our members develop meaningful experiences on college campuses, meet diverse college students and faculty, and form strong, authentic motivations for pursuing college. Despite the impact COVID-19 had on YMOC, we found that 80% of our members that attended two or more college trips enrolled in college. If you've benefitted from a college trip, consider supporting our efforts to help give more young men of color the same experience. 

Support College Trips

IYTs Policy Interns Present Legislative Research Projects

IYT celebrated brothers who completed the Public Policy Internship program! A total of five brothers participated this summer, with four brothers being placed in external policy offices and one brother being housed at IYT HQ. College students, who are placed in external offices, received up to $3,840 stipend, while high school students received $1,200. During the celebration, interns presented their Public Policy Project to an audience consisting of IYT staff, intern families, and partner offices and other external partners. The policy projects required interns to analyze and research pending legislation that will affect youth and provide a recommendation on what position IYT should have on the legislation. We were pleased to welcome Sacramento County District 3 Supervisor Rich Desmond and Anthony Uribe from Congressman Ami Bera's office, who served as panelists for the presentations. Both Supervisor Desmond and Congressman Bera, as well as Assemblyman Mike Gipson and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, hosted interns in their offices this summer. 

Learn More Our Policy Work Here

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