The CHAMPS Male Mentoring Program makes a difference in Black and brown boys and young men
BY TIA CAROL JONES
It was a mentor who helped Vondale Singleton get to where he is today. To repay that mentor, he created CHAMPS Male Mentoring Program.
Singleton credits his mentor with being the reason behind him getting on a plane for the first time ever. He was traveling on his way to San Francisco. It was a crucial moment for Singleton and it would change his life forever. It exposed him things beyond what he was used to.
“Going out to see Stanford University, going out to see UC Berkley, going to Pier39 and going to visit Alcatraz, it was the first time I had flown on a plane, but it was also a real opportunity for a mentor to
say, ‘I see greatness on the inside of you,’” Singleton said.
The mentor also told Singleton that God had his hand on him and that he would do something great in his life. It was a language that Singleton didn’t understand at the time, but later it would all makes
sense now. Singleton enrolled into Oral Roberts College.
At the end of Singleton’s senior year, he called the mentor and asked how he could repay him. The mentor told him, the same thing the mentor did for him, he wanted Singleton to do for others. It started his path to mentorship.
Singleton has been a teacher, a dean and an assistant principal. He saw a need in young men who looked like him who were struggling. He started CHAMPS, which stands for Culturally Helping and Making
Positive Success, nine years ago.
“We believe every young man is born to win in every situation in life, no excuses. We believe you were born to win,” Singleton said. “Our mission is to use the three E’s -- education, empowerment and
exposure – and provide opportunities for boys and young men of color to fulfill their dreams and their goals in life.”
CHAMPS provides a safe space for boys and young men, mental health space, removing barriers and leadership development so they can escape the rhetoric that they will die or end up in jail before they
are 18- years old.
CHAMPS has become more innovative in their mentoring strategies.
Singleton believes that mentoring is not a master-student dynamic, but they are teaching each other. Mentorship has changed to include consideration of the climate, the environment, circumstances and situations that not only affect the livelihood of the child in the program but the entire family. After that, mentors are tasked creating a short and longterm plan to help the young person prosper and feel that they have the advocacy empowerment, and resources to become successful.
CHAMPS takes a holistic approach to figure out how to provide support for all of the family. The organization provided food, rent, utilities and counseling, with the help of partners.
CHAMPS helps boys and young men figure out what gifts, talents and abilities they have and how they can use them and make connections to people who can help create opportunities.
Singleton knew the program would be successful when he saw a young man take what they were being taught and they were able to articulate who they were with actions, not words. The mentors tell the participants what they went through, the mistakes they made and what they can learn.
“We’ve become the blueprint that they can see, feel and touch. No knock against the athlete or the entertainer but 99.9% of the time, they can’t touch them, they can’t pick up the phone and talk to their
favorite athlete. So, I become your favorite because you can touch me, you can see me, I’m real,” Singleton said.
Singleton shows up when he says he’s going to show up and will do what he says he’s going to do because somebody did it for me. It changed his life.
“I believe not just in the potential of mentorship I believe in the power of mentorship,” he said.
For more information about CHAMPS Male Mentoring, visit www.champsmalementoring. com.