In 2010, Damonte Wilson, a BRL alumni returned to BRL in search of opportunities for engagement. Damonte, then 19 years old, was one year out of high school and having a difficult time connecting with employment opportunities in his community. Like so many other young adults his age the support previously received in high school and other systems was a mere memory and Damonte found himself alone trying to navigate the transition into adulthood,
"I knew if I didn't do something I would end a victim of these streets. So I went back to BRL because they helped me grow and I thought maybe I could do the same for other youth in my community."
Shortly after the BRL Academy was born. Directed by Rob Jackson and John Gill, the BRL Academy seeks to promote leadership, connection and development among BRL alumni that have "aged out" of other systems.
"The vision of the BRL Academy is to provide aftercare support for TAY and create a pipeline into the helping professions for young adults from the community by teaching them the skills to be helpers, healers and change makers in their community and beyond."
BRL Academy members undergo a rigorous training program that aims to build competencies in peer counseling, social work practice, advocacy and Hip Hop artistry. Since it's inception the BRL Academy has gained much acclaim from the field of mental health specifically for it role in creating a cascading peer mentorship model. This "each one, teach one" approach is a main pillar of Hip Hop culture and has proven highly effective to engaging disenfranchised youth.
HOW CAN YOU HELP
Here are several ways you can support the Academy:
- Sign up to be a monthly sustainer, your donation will support the BRL Academy throughout the year
- Start your own fundraiser page to rally your network to this cause
- Create a BRL Academy scholarship in your or a loved one's name (Contact email@example.com for more info)