ST. LOUIS — Taking a step in the right direction: that's the goal for Gentlemen of Vision.
The organization was founded in 2009.
CEO Marlon Wharton knew it was needed in the St. Louis area.
"I realized there was a lot of things that a lot of men were missing as far as programming outside of sports. The idea of the program Gentlemen of Vision came into play," Wharton said.
The mentoring program empowers at-risk high school boys and preps them for the future.
"Over 500 young men have been through the program," Wharton added.
Quintton Williams Sr. was one of those mentees.
After graduating, he helped create Young Men of Vision, which starts at the sixth-grade level.
"I thought it would be a lot easier to mold these guys at a middle school level," Williams said.
Overall, the program gets these boys to participate in community service events and involved in a stepping team. But in order to do stepping, the boys need the grades for it.
"It’s not only teaching academics, it's teaching them about accountability and leadership," Wharton added.
The team has been successful, even winning national competitions.
But with a global pandemic halting things, the dancing also stopped in 2020.
Now, with COVID-19 regulations in place, competitions are back and the group of 50 boys needs to prep.
"If there’s anything we can ask for the community, it would be definitely be a place to practice," Quintton said.
Beyond that, monetary donations are needed. Donations would help the boys get to the competitions. The GOV leaders hope the community can step up to help these boys step into success.
In Missouri, the Black male graduation rate is a little over 65%. To date, the members have maintained a 100% graduation rate since the organization's inception.
If you'd like to donate, you can go to the Gentlemen of Vision website here. They also have a Cash App: $gov2009.
Scholarships are also given to the seniors. If you'd like to help with scholarship donations, you can reach out through the website.
If you'd like to contact them for a possible place to practice, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.