YMCA Launches Strategy to Invest in Boys and Young Men of Color

The YMCA of Rock River Valley is joining a national YMCA movement to invest in boys and young men of color and create pathways to success. The YMCA Boys and Young Men of Color (BYMOC) strategy ensures equitable outcomes for boys and young men of color ages 11-17 by removing systemic barriers, providing relevant services and support systems, and creating nurturing environments that promote confidence and growth. 

“We are blessed to be part of a national movement that recognizes the need for action now,” said Brent Pentenburg, YMCA of Rock River Valley CEO. “Boys and young men of color are twice as likely to grow up in poverty and more likely to fall into poverty as adults. We need to stop this cycle and help them reach their full potential.”

The Y is activating the BYMOC strategy locally under the leadership of Kamrin Muhammad, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness at the YMCA of Rock River Valley. Programming will focus on education, college and career readiness, character development, belonging and community building, and health and well-being. The first program to launch will be Bro Code, a mentoring program for boys of color offered at the SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA and Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. Additionally, the Y is partnering with several RPS 205 schools, so mentors can work with the boys during school.

“We have never had something of this magnitude in our community that focuses directly on boys and young men of color,” said Muhammad. “These boys and their needs deserve to be prioritized, and we appreciate that YUSA is using their national platform to activate change. We recognize the great sense of urgency here in Rockford and we can’t wait to get started.”

By 2024, the BYMOC strategy seeks to achieve the following outcomes for 10,000 boys and young men of color across 100 U.S. cities (including Rockford):
  • 70% of participants will access high-quality, nurturing and more culturally responsive neighborhood environments
  • 75% of participants will have stabilized and improved grades by reducing suspensions and improving school attendance
  • 100% of participants will have completed pre- and post-assessment for social-emotional learning
  • 75% of participants will access high quality post-secondary and career-ready pathways
To learn more about the BYMOC strategy as a participant or volunteer, click here.