With a focus on supporting students of color who are furthest from educational justice, particularly Black boys and teens, the Seattle School District launched the Office of African American Male Achievement in 2019, which works to dismantle the systemic racism embedded in the public education system.
WHOLE Mentoring (With Hope Our Lives Excel), a program under the Office of African American Male Achievement, is a program that provides ninth and 10th grade Black male students at Chief Sealth Cleveland, Franklin, Garfield, Ingraham and Rainier Beach with culturally responsive mentorship.
"WHOLE Mentoring is designed to empower identity through affirming Black excellence so Black boys and teens are social-emotionally, physically and academically prepared," said AAMA mentoring program coordinator William King.
The Seahawks have already worked with WHOLE Mentoring in the past for several events involving current and former players and team employees, but on Monday the Seahawks announced they have officially teamed up with Seattle Public Schools to continue supporting and empowering WHOLE Mentoring for the foreseeable future.
Past Seahawks events with WHOLE Mentoring have included students visiting training camp where they met with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and Jordyn Brooks after practice to learn about life on and off the field; a career panel and tour of Lumen Field with Black members of the Seahawks front office; and a Microsoft Campus visit, tour and panel with Blacks at Microsoft (BAM), an afternoon that included spending time with Seahawks rookie Charles Cross, as well as surprise gifts of Microsoft Surface Go 2 laptops.
"WHOLE Mentoring strategizes with community partners to expose Black boys and teens to various career fields and pathways, so they are college and career strong," King said.
And as part of the Seahawks' partnership with WHOLE Mentoring, students recently visited the Virginia Mason Medical Center for a tour and to take part in a panel discussion with Black Mentors in Medicine to learn about different jobs in the medical field and receive CPR training. Events like these are the epitome of the importance of representation in relation to the exposure to these opportunities.
In April, a group of 20 students and staff from WHOLE Mentoring and the Seahawks will go on a HBCU tour across Virginia and Washington DC, a trip that will include stops at the National African American History Museum and the HBCU Museum.
In addition to supporting and shining a light on the work done by WHOLE Mentoring and the office of African American Male Achievement, the Seahawks' partnership with those groups is also a call to action. A one-on-one mentoring program requires volunteers, and in particular, Black men who will, as King puts it, provide Black representation while fostering a sense of belonging and community. Click here to learn more about WHOLE Mentoring and for information on how to become a paid mentor.