‘Friends and mentors’ program seeks to help Brockton teens stay focused on graduation – NBC Boston

Kenny Monteiro graduated from Brockton High School in 1999, and now, through his mentorship program, he’s responsible for ensuring more teens in his community do the same.

It’s an uphill battle – 20% of Brockton public school students don’t graduate in four years, with some dropping out altogether.

“I was born and raised here, but I didn’t let certain things define who I was,” Monteiro said. “That’s kind of what we’re trying to teach them.”

He created Friends and Mentors, a nonprofit mentorship program introduced at Brockton High School to help students who need help stay focused on graduation.

Because two-thirds of Brockton’s high school population is black, and half of its residents are black, the black community stands to gain from Monteiro’s work if he is successful.

Vicky Fortes, 14, is convinced that spending time after school doing extra work – on herself – can make a difference to her future.

“They always try to uplift you and make you feel comfortable,” she said. “They want you to be better for your future and they try to help you, so I think it’s a good program.”

It’s not uncommon to find students dealing with stress at home, distracting them from their studies and graduation. Mentors help them solve these problems with dialogue and empathy. Often, mentors have traveled similar paths.

“Staying positive is hard,” Monteiro said. “We live in a city where poverty is rampant, lots of homelessness, drug addiction and gang violence. They see it all.”

“So it’s like, focus on yourself and just be resilient, be strong and just keep improving,” he continued. “And anytime you can have someone or a mentor by your side who can help you overcome those vices and negativity that they’re facing, that’s really helpful.”

Currently, 30 students participate in the Friends and Mentors program, paired with 25 mentors. They’ve been working on it for two years and believe they have a formula that will have a positive impact — not just on graduation rates, but on the city’s ability to create future makers of black history.

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