The Educated Mentor: Volume 2, Issue 1 (Summer 2021)

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SUMMER 2021 Volume 2, Issue 1


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Operation G.R.A.D, Incorporated - NFP

Operation G.R.A.D, Incorporated

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. . . or via email


OPERATION G.R.A.D, INCORPORATED Moving Beyond Initiatives Operation G.R.A.D, Incorporated is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization whose purpose is to help collegiate African-American males graduate with a college degree. With mentoring as the foundational approach, we challenge and support students as they achieve goals initially set.


Guided by the core values of commitment, community, education, diversity, and integrity , Operation G.R.A.D is dedicated to providing a holistic student-centered experience that prepares students for opportunities during and post college. For questions, or to learn more about our organization, please contact us at



Welcome to Volume 2!


New year, same vision: Welcome to Volume 2! During the last quarter, we highlighted, acknowledged, celebrated, and reflected on the essence of Black excellence. Whether you were engaged as a contributor, donor, or reader, we THANK YOU! We would not have seen our success without YOU! As we enter into Volume 2, we formally welcome you to fiscal year 2022. With a new fiscal year, comes new goals that are BIGGER and BOLDER. Here are just a few of the things we want to achieve in this next year: 1. Bring on new team members: To help expand our network, strengthen our brand, and increase the overall reach of Operation G.R.A.D. 2. Increase our donor base: To prepare for program implementation on our partner college/university campuses. 3. Host the inaugural Operation G.R.A.D Institute (OGI): To bring others doing this similar and essential work together to share ideas, strategies, and provide engaging leadership development opportunities. Overall, we want to continue to utilize The Educated Mentor as a platform to bring awareness to what is happening within the organization as well as the great contributions African-American males are making to society. As cliche as it may sound, this space was created for us, by us. We welcome any and all opportunities to collaborate and network with you in the near future. Until then, cheers to continued progress!

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 1 CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Jamie L. Enge JOURNAL EDITOR Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Eyon Brown Richard Brown Jamie Enge Reginald P. Grigsby Mekhi Hill Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. George Makunde Martin Kendrick Pittman Shavell Rodgers Charrisse Somme Corban Weatherspoon Sly Worthy, Jr. The Educated Mentor is the official publication of Operation G.R.A.D, Incorporated published four times a year. For any questions or feedback regarding the publication, please contact us at

In Mentorship,

Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. Jamie L. Enge

Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. & Jamie L. Enge Co-Founders Stay connected with us: 'Like' us on Facebook: Follow us on Instagram: @Operationg.r.a.dinc

Follow us on LinkedIn:

04 Summer 2021 Edition








volume 2, issue 1

featured article


Follow in Preparation for Effective Leadership



06 Philanthropy At-A-Glance

16 The Mentor Spotlight

An overview of our philanthropy from Quarter 4

08 National News

Get the latest information from the National Office

10 Amplified

Recognizing Trailblazer, Richard Brown

20 Dear Brother, Receive a Word of Empowerment from Reginald P. Grigsby

Students share their perspective on one thing that helped them succeed in college

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The Educated Mentor



$4.9K+ Acquired in donations


Total numbers of donors

Angela Conyers Barry Tyler, Jr. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Chawndese Hylton Chuck Rhodes Dawn Kwayera ArcherCunningham Delores Grady Derek Canty Dominique Moody Donovan Perry Gabriella Torres Jamie Enge Jaron Dawson Jawanza Wilson Keith Alexander Khadija Travis

Kimberly Hylton Kirsey Crawford Lamonte Lans Lashaun Williams Latanya Burnett Lisa Gee Melissa Zeligman Moriah Ojo Noreen Spruell Pam Johnson Davis Rebeca Fernandez Rhuna Holley Richard Brown Robert Emmons Shelton Banks Taylor Crow Tymon Graham Vern Whitman Walt Whitman II



Gifts were made by organizations/businesses


Gifts were made by individuals

National News Join the Operation G.R.A.D team! We are excited to share that we are looking to add new members to our team! We are looking for dynamic individuals who are excited about the mission of the organization and aligned to the vision of our Co-Founders. The following roles we have available are: 1. Treasurer, Board of Directors 2. Director of Development 3. Director of National Programs 4. Social Media Coordinator If you are interested in any of these roles, visit our website at to learn more about how you can apply.

CALLING ALL SUPPORTERS! Our Nation's Problem: Nationally, 36% of African-American males graduate from college with a bachelors degree- this is the lowest among ALL racial and gender demographics. Join our challenge aimed at increasing our donor engagement to support our efforts in creating the solution! Be one of the first 250 individuals to commit to making a monthly donation of at least $5 or more and receive special recognition as a member of 'Club 250'!

Club Make your gift and be recognized today at

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SUBMIT AN ADVERTISEMENT TO OPERATION G.R.A.D, INC.! Do you have a business, product, or service that you want to promote to the Operation G.R.A.D community? Make an advertisement donation for space in one of our upcoming quarterly journals. Discounts may be applied for those interested in running an ad for more than one quarter. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SUBMISSION CRITERIA, PLEASE EMAIL INFO@OPERATIONGRADNFP.ORG

Amplified "Can You Hear Me Now?!"

One thing that helped me succeed in college . . . By: Dr. Darryl Hylton According to national data produced by the National Center for Education Statistics (2019), AfricanAmerican males graduate with a bachelor's degree within six years at a rate of 36.2%. This percentage is the lowest among all racial and gender demographics. Additionally, AfricanAmerican males also have the highest non-completion/drop-out rates at 41.2%. As we celebrate the Spring 2021 commencement season, we embrace the new generation of Black male excellence who have defied these statistics. Ranging from the social and behavioral sciences to STEM, these recent graduates have displayed the true essence of Grit, Resilience, Ambition, and Drive. In this edition of the segment, these men share one thing that helped them succeed in college.

Kendrick Pittman Alumnus, Winston Salem State University

"One thing that helped me succeed in college was the fear of disappointment. As a first generation college student, I’d heard plenty of stories about college but not one about graduating. Since day one, I’ve felt as if I’m on a mission to finally break the repeated cycle in my lineage. Outside of wanting it for myself, I had the feeling that people were watching and counting on me, and I wasn’t going to disappoint! Frightened by the thought of not finishing this race, every day I paced myself. Perseverant and futuristic, I took careful and meaningful steps that would ultimately force me to grow. Throughout my journey, I constantly reminded myself of Proverbs 16:9 : A mans heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Trusting the man upstairs and being my genuine self has opened plenty of doors, but that fear of disappointment is where the tenacity within my efforts derive from."


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The Educated Mentor

Sly Worthy, Jr.

Alumnus, The Ohio State University

Corban Weatherspoon Alumnus, Delaware State University

Summer 2021 Edition

"The light at the end of the tunnel and my “why” helped me succeed in college. It was the light at the end of the tunnel that allowed me to be persistent during the most challenging times during my undergraduate career. I always kept my eyes on the prize which allowed me to understand that the challenges I was facing were temporary or even sometimes necessary to prepare me to grow into the person at the end of the tunnel. I came to college with the intention to purely INSPIRE. I want(ed) kids in a similar situation as myself to know that education was (is) not only an option but that they could PROSPER in an educational setting. My “why” outweighed any and every situation and circumstance that was thrown my way. The value of my degree is held in the journey it took to obtain it."

"There’s a saying that goes “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” I did not truly understand this until my matriculation through Delaware State University. Here is where it became clear, the effect that the people one surrounds themself with has on their future. As I grew and developed an understanding of myself, I saw the effects that both positive and negative influences had on me. And once I understood this, I was able to take strides to build a positive network of people, friends, and resources that fed into my success as much I did. The network I built for myself gave me feedback, believed in me even when I did not believe in myself, and most importantly held me accountable. Thanks, do to anyone besides God, belongs to the community that always lifted me up, my network." The Educated Mentor


Shavell Rodgers

Alumnus, Chicago State University

Eyon Brown

Alumnus, Wofford College


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"One thing that helped me succeed in college was networking. It is extremely imperative to network and seek as many opportunities as you can while you are in college. Networking will allow you to form relationships with people who will help you accomplish the goals that you have set for yourself, and help you get to where you want to go in life. More importantly, networking will allow you to gain the experience that you are going to need, in order to be fully prepared to enter your field and start your career upon graduating. You can start building up your network by joining different clubs that are relevant to your field of study. You can also create a LinkedIn account to connect with and reach out to people in your field, whether they are other students or experienced professionals. Always remember that it is never too early to start building your network, the sooner the better."

"One thing that helped me succeed in college was discipline. It took discipline for me to keep my grades up while also getting involved in different student organizations and with different jobs across campus. Being disciplined was the main reason that I was able to not just be present for each of the roles that I took on, but also be effective in those roles and make a difference. I think that that discipline also led to accountability, and that allowed me to become a better leader, a better team member, a better student, and a better person. As my college career progressed and I took on more responsibility each year, being accountable and being disciplined were the two main reasons why I was able to have so much success and achieve so much. My senior year was my most accomplished year, and I won more awards than I have ever won before. I credit discipline for that totally." The Educated Mentor

Mekhi Hill

Alumnus, North Carolina A&T State University

George Makunde Martin

Alumnus, Morgan State University

Summer 2021 Edition

"One thing that helped me succeed in college was my village. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is 100 percent accurate. Without my uplifting and loving support system, I don’t know where the universe would have taken me and for that, I am forever grateful for the people I have in my corner rooting for me. From family, friends, mentors, and even random encouragement that I have received along the way from people I don’t know have all contributed to my success today. It keeps me going knowing that I have a strong support system of individuals who want to see me succeed and I know I cannot let them down. There are a lot of young black males who don’t have the same opportunities that I have been afforded while growing up, and I want to be a beacon of light for the next generation to come. I strive to always lift as I climb because it is bigger than just me."

"One that helped me succeed in college was not only getting out of my comfort zone but becoming comfortable outside my comfort zone and expanding it. An example of this is when I joined the African Student Organization Dance team. I have never danced before in my life. I was an athlete in High School, but I wanted to try something new and it was one of the best decisions I made. I made so many friends and had a lot of fun. Performing in front of people helped me in other areas like public speaking and meeting new people because I became really comfortable expressing myself through dance in front of strangers. So when I went out of my comfort zone again and ran for a position in Student Government, I was not afraid to interact with people and deliver speeches. So try something new, even if it's completely random you never know what transferable skills you can get from it." The Educated Mentor






General Support

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Post-Graduate Success

This monthly gift provides general support to helping advance the overall mission and goals of the organization.

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the mentor By: Jamie Enge


CEO Richard Brown is a mentor, higher education professional, and adjunct instructor committed to student success and development. Mr. Brown, with over a decade of professional experience in higher education, has served at the community college, university, and graduate school levels. Before assuming his role in Diversity Affairs at the IU School of Medicine, he served as the inaugural Black Student Services Coordinator at IUPUI. With specializations in leadership development, cultural humility, organizational development, and community engagement, Richard values opportunities to help students define their unique success stories and prepare for excellence in an increasingly diverse world. External to his work in higher education, Richard leads a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, whose focus is on community development and has several signature programs that promote the positive identity development of black males.

Tell us a little about your background, who you are, where you're from, etc. No matter where I am or to whom I am speaking, I will take any opportunity to brag that I am from the windy city, the second city, a city that a Haitian man first established. Although I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and my career has moved me around the country, Chicago Southside raised me. I am forever grateful for the unique experiences Chicago bestowed upon me and how it shaped my worldview. I am a two-time graduate, with a bachelor's and a master's degree, from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Second to the impact Chicago had on my life is the impact of college. I am the person I am today because of my college experiences. Although I am not a first-generation college student, I am the first in all my family to obtain a graduate degree. I am also a current student at Gardner-Webb University pursuing a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership. I believe in lifelong learning. For as long as we are learning, we are growing. Therefore, when we stop learning, we stop growing. Who are the mentors (if any) that have had the most significant influence on you? What was the best piece of advice they gave you? More than the practice of mentoring, I appreciate the practice of role modeling. Do not just tell me what to do; exemplify what I should do. To that end, in my teen years, I appreciated individuals such a Spike Lee, who emphasized the telling of positive black stories. I appreciated my grandfather, Ron Berry, who emphasized owning land and being an entrepreneur. Finally, I appreciated my youth pastor, Billy Montgomery, who emphasized integrity, leadership, and faith. In my adult years, my role models are too numerous to name. Nevertheless, they are also everchanging as my goals and interests change. What does mentorship mean to you? As I reflect on the topic of mentoring, I am drawn to the perspective that not everyone is equipped to be effective mentors. Holding specific individuals to mentoring expectations will inevitably be a letdown. However, there is hope. While some individuals are not good mentors, they might be excellent advocates or sponsors. We must understand the difference between these three roles and identify individuals in our lives who can fill these unique capacities. I see mentors as individuals who can take us on journeys, teach specific skills, or illuminate certain life topics.


Summer 2021 Edition

The Educated Mentor

On the other hand, advocates exist in spaces where we do not, and they can speak your name, leverage their connections, and voice support of you. Finally, sponsors use their currencies to help you succeed. Sometimes those currencies are financial, while other times, those currencies are social or otherwise. Thank you to my fraternity brother and role model, Dr. Phillip "Flapp" Cockrell, for illuminating these concepts for me. Tell us a little bit about your work at Hope For a Better Tomorrow? Hope For A Better Tomorrow has been an outstanding opportunity for my peers, community, and I to exhibit and reflect the change that we would like to see in our community and the broader world around us. I wholeheartedly believe that people become what they see. So if we normalize excellence, service, lift while we rise, community concern, and love of Black people, we will see these things perpetuated. While our organization engages in various projects and partnerships throughout the year, we are most proud of our annual Manhood 101 Mentoring Sessions Conference. Every year, this event takes on a different look, but our larger goal is to teach young men college information, career information, and life skills to help them be successful as they grow towards adulthood. I think what is so unique about this program is that it is not one person preaching their gospel, but rather, it is a community of elders coming back to show young men the knowledge and information they have attained throughout their journeys. In addition, we emphasize the impact of taking a collective approach. Together, we can accomplish anything. What attracted you to doing the work you are currently doing? I am frustrated with depicting black males and black communities at large in radio, TV, social media, and other outlets. I am, however, passionate about celebrating the richness of whom I perceive us to be. For example, I have perceived Black people to be the greatest ghostwriters of culture; I recognize that our ancestors gave civilization to the world; and I strive to achieve the fifth principle of Kwanzaa, Nia. Countering the negative narrative is a personal life is calling for me, and I happily engage in this work with partners and stakeholders who share similar beliefs. What has been the most rewarding experience working with young black males? My Fraternity's national mentoring organization, the Sigma Beta Club, has presented lifelong mentoring opportunities to the other Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc members. Hands-down, it is the most rewarding experience for me has been mentoring young men, helping them realize their full potential, and watching them mature to an adult that returns to the community to keep the cycle of positive influence alive. I cannot think of a better or more affirming scenario than this. Creating a legacy of connectedness, service, and collectivism helps affirm the work I and others have done. What specific advice would you give those individuals who are looking to mentor Black men? No one rises to low expectations. Expect big things, and you will get big outcomes. Believe in black excellence absent of white social norms. Lead with love. The motto of our Hope4BT is "There's Hope. " The simplicity yet powerful statement reminds us of the optimistic opportunity we have in the face of challenges, and our collective action prevails against any challenge. Connect with us on Instagram @hope4bt, on Facebook by searching for our name, or visit our website at In addition, you can meet our exceptional board members and volunteers on our website and engage us in this work. We would love to have your involvement. Summer 2021 Edition

The Educated Mentor




Dear Brother

"This is a time to redefine who you are and embrace new opportunities." - Reginald P. Grigsby

A Word of Encouragement


Dear Brother, I hope this letter finds you well. Let me begin by saying how extremely proud I am of you and your accomplishments. You have made it to the next level of your life.Your commitment, determination, and dedication have paid off and now you will embark on a new journey, one that may be filled with uncertainty and fear. This is a time of celebration as you begin your formal transition into adulthood. This fall marks a one that is different than any other you have experienced before. You are leaving what has been your norm and beginning the next chapter of your life filled with new experiences, friendships, and opportunities. This is a time to redefine who you are and embrace new opportunities. You have left the comfort of living under the roof of your loved ones and are now solely responsible for all aspects of your life. This is the time for you to embrace your newly found freedom which will ensure your success in your post-secondary experience and beyond. I would like to share three anecdotes with you that I believe will be vital to your academic and personal accomplishments. These will not only offer support to you but will aid to ensure a seamless transition to your new life as a college student living on campus. Time Management For the first time in your life, you will have no one telling you to go to bed. No one to tell you that you have class in the morning, or you should not stay up so late hanging out at parties. Your parents will not be there to monitor your attendance in your classes or check to see if you have missing assignments. This is a time for you to take control of your life and be the captain of your vessel. As a full-time student, it is imperative that you devote time to studying. Many college students do not devote the required time to their studies as they should. If you are enrolled in fifteen hours of courses, you should be spending double that time studying. Studying will help you to be prepared and allow you to stay on track with the content in your classes. Develop effective time management skills to assist you to balance your studies as well as your personal life, and this will greatly reduce your stress level. Always Back-up Your Files I learned this one the hard way too many times. It is imperative to your success to back up your files on Google Drive. I have lost numerous files that contained irreplaceable content that was not saved to my hard drive. This created plenty of anxiety and forced me to try to recreate essays, projects, and other assignments solely from memory. It was nerve-racking and caused episodes of stress that could have been avoided simply by backingup important documents to Google Drive. I strongly recommend saving all your assignments and documents to Google Drive. It will save you precious time as well as unnecessary stress. Establishing Lifelong Friendships The college experience offers the opportunity to foster relationships with new people that may have a lasting impact on your life and may create lifelong friendships. My closest friends are people I met in college - those who were alongside me in the struggle and trying to reach the same common goals: Graduation and Degree. The bonds formed during both my undergrad and graduate degree programs aligned my path with others who were also committed to academic excellence. In the trenches together, we supported each other, worked on group projects, spent countless hours in the learning resource center gathering research, and in the computer lab revising essays or working on our thesis projects. Needless to say, we persevered and those people became my closest friends. It was our common experience that brought us together and our college experience that strengthened our bond and made us family. The bond we established as friends is unmatched by any other friendships. I challenge you to venture out to meet new people and find a balance between academics and recreation. The points shared are those that I personally believe are the most essential to both your academic and personal development. It is imperative to your transition to campus life that you find balance in your new environment. Welcome to the next phase of your life. Embrace it and allow yourself to reach your greatest potential. Sending you best wishes for success.

Reginald P. Grigsby Your Brother,

Reginald P. Grigsby Northeastern Illinois University '05, '13


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Operation G.R.A.D, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization

Follow in Preparation for Effective Leadership By: Charrisse Somme Leadership is something that many aspire to not realizing the effort required to develop, maintain and expand this elusive skill. Because leadership is an action word that requires mental preparation, tangible resources, and influential people; it is essential to have the mindset that leadership requires lifelong learning through a variety of events and avenues. Many have heard of the old adage “be a leader not a follower”. As followership has had a negative stigma attached to the concept, I assert that it is an important developmental activity in pursuit of effective leadership. In order to truly understand the concept of followership we must first understand the term leadership. Dubrin (2016) defines leadership as “the ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve the organizational goals” (p.2). In order for leaders to be effective it is necessary for leaders to have followers. It is also crucial for collaboration to occur between leaders and followers as they cannot co-exist without each other. Upon investigating the concept of followership, it is noted based on professional interviews, scholarly journals, and textbook information; I was able to authenticate the importance of followership, the roles of followership, and the significant function it plays in leadership. As emerging leaders who are in pursuit of leadership followership will add value to their abilities and their leadership repertoire. Robert Kelly, business professor at Carnegie Mellon defines effective followers as those who engage in enthusiastic, intelligent, and self-reliant participation without star billing in the pursuit of an organizational goal (McCallum, 2013). His position


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affirms the importance of followership with high indication of followership being more important than leadership. Kelly emphasizes training for followers and the recognition that good followers exhibit exactly the same sets of characteristics that pundits talk about when describing good leaders (McCallum, 2013). According to Curphy and Roellig (2011) virtually everyone is a follower at some point in his or her life. “It is worth keeping in mind that some jobs have clear leadership requirement; virtually all jobs have followership requirements (p.3). As an evolving leader it is important to be self-aware so that transformations can occur to address leadership areas requiring development. Followership can promote many opportunities therefore it is imperative as future leaders, that participants hone their skills as a follower as it is practice with a purpose. Followership should develop into fellowship as leadership requires being in relationship with others. Being self-aware arms the emerging leader with an arsenal of information that leads to self-understanding and selfmanagement. Knowing the characteristics of an effective follower is a fundamental idea that provides a pathway to ascribe to those important traits that each follower should possess. Effective followers tend to be critical thinkers, self-starters, and individuals that are courageous, honest, and credible (Curphy & Roellig (2011). Having these skills is beneficial for leadership development as it puts future leaders on the cusp of their potential greatness. Benefits from followership continue to be showcased as it: ·Provides opportunities to develop as a leader ·Cultivates humility ·Codifies one’s ability to recognize leadership ·Develops skills in the area of judgment and discernment and ·Exposes future leaders to potential pitfalls

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In considering the importance of followership, it is important to note that the actual work gets done by those who are followers. Yes, the leader has the ability to influence and inspire but the tasks are completed by those followers who manage themselves well. There is power in understanding that followership does not correlate with one’s inability or weakness because those equipped to follow will share essential ideas and put others in the position to be successful. Effective followership is a great developmental process that puts action to the immediate development of leadership skills. Followership develops future leaders and provides the bridge that leads to positive characteristics, skill acquisition, and becoming the person that he or she wants to be. Embracing this concept will be beneficial in preparation for leadership as followership mirrors leadership. Followership will always be the background singer in the band as followership often goes without the recognition of its’ importance. Notoriety will not diminish the significance of followership nor will it lessen the fact that leaders cannot lead without followers. Take the risk to engage in this concept as that action will be your first step towards developing effective leadership.

Wife and mother of one, Charrisse is an entrepreneur, licensed counselor, and educator who is active within her community. A two-time HBCU graduate, she is the Chief Operating Officer at Still Family, LLC that provides services and supports for those individuals diagnosed with an Intellectual Disability and sole proprietor of Premiere Counseling Professionals, which is a private practice offering counseling services to adolescents and adults challenged by mental health issues. Charrissee is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education degree from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.

References Curphy G. and Roellig M. (2011). Followership. DuBrin, A. J. (2016). Leadership: Research findings, practice, and skills (8th ed.). Cengage. McCallum, J. S. (2013). Followership: The other side of leadership. Ivey Business Journal: Improving the Practice of Management, (September/October). ership-the-other-side-of-leadership/ Summer 2021 Edition

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