Source: Maria Lloyd/Your Black World
Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, who was raised by his single mother, missed out on father-son interactions such as tying a tie, cutting the lawn, and replacing a flat tire. To ensure that another Black boy would never have to miss out on the interactions that men have with their children, he and his award-winning television journalist wife, Mia Fleming, launched a hands-on pilot program in Tulsa, OK titled All In: MVP Mentoring Program™ . The program presented an interactive, application-based curriculum for young men raised in households without an active father/father figure. The 9-week program went beyond academic instruction and focused on relevant and practical life skills critical to success in society.
Further putting a vision into action, Solomon-Simmons and Fleming recruited 55 Black men to become mentors. The response and impact of the recruitment process were so great that the Tulsa World published a touching story about the couple’s work on Father’s Day 2014.
Seeing that a boy’s mother plays a significant role in her son’s life, the couple launched the Fatherhood Weekend, which connected men and single moms with programs and practitioners actively addressing the critical issues of manhood and fatherhood. The event served as a call to action for Black fathers and father figures (mentors) to go “all in” for young Black men. More than 20 single mothers attended a engaging session titled Raising Him Alone, which was an outlet for mothers to learn how to push their sons to greatness despite the absence of an active father/father figure.
“This [session] is a glimpse of hope to them [the black boys raised by a single mom] and to us [single moms raising black boys]; knowing that despite them not having a ‘father’ , the sky is the limit for them,” said Gabie, a mother who attended the emotional session. “This also allowed them to connect with good men willing to mentor them and guide them in the right direction. It also helps show them that there are good men and that they do not have to limit themselves, become a statistic nor repeat the cycle.”
Sekou Clincy, Coordinator of The Tulsa Fatherhood Coalition, wrote a letter to Solomon-Simmons and Fleming thanking them for the opportunity to participate in the event and expressing a commitment to the program in 2015 and beyond.
Each year the initiative continues to grow and impact the Tulsa community positively. With continued support from the community, the co-founders are planning to expand their services and reach starting in the Fall of 2014.
About The MVP Foundation
Founded by attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and his TV Journalist wife Mia Fleming in 2009, The MVP Foundation’s mission is to create programming that raises money and awareness that benefit Tulsa inner-city youth. As a tax-deductible, non-profit fund through the Tulsa Community Foundation since 2010, the MVP Foundation has served more than 1000 young people, and raised more than $150,000 for local charities and initiatives focused on inner-city youth.