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HomeGrown StL offers life coaching to Black boys and young men to help them succeed

 Workforce High School student Deobra Williams works with his mentor James Kern.
Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Public Radio
A Washington University social worker wants to improve the economic prospects of Black men in St. Louis in their 20s, who earn about half as much as their white counterparts. Starting next month, HomeGrown STL will provide life coaching to Black boys and young men ages 12 to 17 to help them achieve success.

HomeGrown StL, a collaboration of groups that aim to improve the lives of young Black males, is offering weekly life coaching sessions next month to help Black boys and young men achieve social and economic success.

Participants ages 12 to 17 and their families will hear from coaches on the importance of education, relationship building and financial planning.

Many people are seeking life coaches for advice on health, nutrition, strength and leadership. Black boys and young men also need someone to help them achieve their highest potential socially and economically, said Director Sean Joe.

“To go from adolescence to young adulthood, young Black men are suffering from an earnings disparity, meaning they're making either half amount of what white males of their age are making,” he said.

Life coaches will work with participants and their families to outline goals. Coaches also will help boys and young men build leadership skills and social and emotional skills.

The coaches will tap into their larger networks to help the participants find career paths and other regional leaders and agencies that can help navigate their lives, Joe said.

Program leaders are offering the sessions to Black boys and teenagers within city and county school districts.

The year-round program, primarily funded by the National Institutes of Health, will accept up to 395 participants. HomeGrown StL trains each life coach, who will serve about 25 participants at a time.

“This is their own motivator, their own skills builder,” Joe said. “There are other young people who have always gotten that level of support … and our young people deserve that because they have as much elite potential.”

Life coaching helps young Black men better plan their futures, said Tory Drayton, HomeGrown StL’s enrollment coordinator.

“Having a life coach to guide you, to be a hand to helping you reach the goals and your aspirations is pivotal,” said Drayton, whose life coach helped him discover a career in counseling.

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.