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Emmanuel Jones

February, 2013

By

Paul Martell

Emmanuel Jones is a 2011 grad who had plans to run a big business; however, Jones found himself leading something larger in many ways

It is no secret that Universities are filled with people who are dreaming of the future. It is this forward-thinking nature that leads a person to earn a degree. Emmanuel Jones was such a person. Jones planned to finish school and make a name for himself in the large business world; however, it is the irony of our lives that makes good stories.

“Eastern really helped prepare me for what I am doing now,” said Emmanuel. He is especially glad that EMU teaches skills, “both textbook and real world.” Emmanuel attended Eastern Michigan University from 2007 to 2011 and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship. Emmanuel knew he wanted to start a business; he simply did not know what type.

Jones spent most of his time at EMU working or studying. He would say, “Due to work, I didn’t get to experience much of student life. Now that I’ve graduated, I see what campus life is like, and wish I could’ve had it.” But it was Jones’s work and school involvement that would help lead him to where he is now. It was during Emmanuel’s sophomore year that his eyes would be opened to the need that would alter his dream.

Marvin Gundy, a classmate and friend, invited Emmanuel to a local community center to see how Gundy’s final course project was going. Through this experience, and some chance meetings, Emmanuel came to help at Parkridge Community Center Summer Camp, a camp for disadvantaged, middle school aged kids. Emmanuel was being changed.

“Wow, these kids really have no resources, or at least, not what they need to be successful,” said Jones.

Emmanuel saw both differences and similarities between his life, and the lives he was interacting with at Parkridge Community Center Summer Camp. Emmanuel had not always chosen to be a high-achieving, responsible student. During his middle school and high school years Emanuel said, “I chose to act out, to get in trouble. Through most of high school, my mindset was totally off.” What caused Emmanuel to change his ways back in high school was the parental involvement and resources he had.

Emmanuel puts great emphasis on learning and academics.

Emmanuel puts great emphasis on learning and academics.

“It was by the grace of God, and my parents staying on me, that I made a 180 degree turn. I often wonder: without my parents, where would I be now?” said Jones. That was the difference he saw. It was suddenly plain to him that these children needed someone, and it was well within Emmanuel Jones’s ability to help them.

Emmanuel started a small, after school program on the south side of Ypsilanti to help local kids with homework, as well as give them someone to talk to. When the time came for Emmanuel’s senior project, the Action Research project, he decided to use his after school program as the topic. Approximately five to seven kids attended Emmanuel’s operation, and for the purposes of the project, he was going to add significantly increased structure to the program.

Emmanuel implemented a weekly schedule. One day was set aside for homework and school tutoring, another was mentoring day. Emmanuel used mentoring day to teach practical life value lessons. “I would teach them how to make money because I didn’t want them to think the only way was to get it illegally. I also added incentives.” Children who did well in the program, and attended regularly, would get to go out to eat, or even attend Tigers games.

The children could no longer simply attend on their terms, or spend all their time playing games. If they were going to be a part of Emmanuel’s program, they had to follow Emmanuel’s rules. The benefits this structure had on the children were obvious, “Some have told me it could take a year to see a significant change, I saw it in two months! I thought to myself: If I could get 50 volunteers, what kind of difference could I then make in what I found appalling?”

After the project ended, Emmanuel loosened up on the structure his program had, and immediately saw a negative change in the children. This was unacceptable. Emmanuel decided he was going to start and run a nonprofit. Emmanuel knew it would be exceedingly difficult, he also knew it would be worth it. After a brainstorm session with his father, the name Mentor2Youth was chosen and much research began. He wanted the program to be highly organized, help kids through school, prepare them for higher education, provide them with caring adults to talk to and teach the kids life-lessons that would keep them out of trouble. Emmanuel’s sights were set high, “I did not want to just effect a few kids a year,” he wanted to make a large impact.

October, 2011 Mentor2Youth started. There were no donations outside Jones’s parents, and the rest of the funding came from Emmanuel’s pockets and bank loans. Emmanuel became very busy. There was a year’s worth of legal paperwork to do, programs to organize, recruiting of volunteers, funding to find, and of course, the children demanding Jones’s time.

Mentor2Youth took a trip to the Zoo!

Mentor2Youth took a trip to the Zoo!

“The main challenge was working with parents,” said Jones. He spent much time advocating higher education as the road to success, and it was difficult to really convince parents of this. “It was so hard for me to convey its (education’s) importance to them because we were from different walks of life…when you’re in an area where academics is promoted, it’s much easier.”

Emanuel held garage sales and other fundraisers to try to defer costs, but it was difficult the first year as no donations would come in.

That year is over, and Mentor2Youth has grown. Emanuel started with 5 kids attending, he now has close to 100. His organization operates in three locations: Lincoln schools, Ypsilanti, and Parkridge Community Center. Mentor2Youth now has 15-18 tutors ready to help the kids academically, mentors to speak with children about anything they like, and five to six administrators that keep it running. But it is far from smooth sailing, and there is still much work to be done.

Emmanuel’s contribution to the lives of these children is invaluable. Within the next five years, Emmanuel wants the program to reach throughout the county and have a paid staff. He says he would also like to build an after school house to get kids off the streets later in the evening. Emmanuel Jones’s ambition will get him there, but he is not able to do it alone.

Emmanuel and the children in the Mentor2Youth Program could use your help.

If you are interested in getting involved, Mentor2Youth is looking for the following:

–          Tutors

–          Mentors (once a week)

–          Marketers

–          Fundraising People

“I am not looking for a 4.0, I am looking for passion and consistency”

Mentor2Youth also offers student Internships, as well as Student Teaching Hours for Education Majors.

To get involved, go to

http://www.mentor2youth.com/

Or, visit The Vision Office on campus: 346 Student Center (Emmanuel’s office)

Or, Email him

emmanuel.djones@gmail.com

Be sure to follow Mentor2Youth’s Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch!

By Paul Martell

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