Mentor group wins grant

Published 5:09 pm Friday, January 1, 2010

Millennial Mentoring Youth Academy, also known as Y2K Academy, has received a $25,000 grant from the National Fatherhood Initiative to help young men learn to be better fathers.

“With the rising gang and drug activity in semi-rural communities throughout Western Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads, now is the time to stem the tide of violence by motivating dads to take back their communities through loving support of their children and visible presence in our neighborhoods,” Dr. Princella Johnson said in announcing the grant award this week.

“We are thankful to NFI for providing these funds to help make our communities safer and more father friendly,” she added.

The grant will help the Franklin-based Academy develop fatherhood programs and improve its ability to seek federal and private philanthropic support, according to a press release.

The 2010 grant winners will attend an intensive, weeklong “Certification College,” led by NFI, that is intended to help them develop practices in support of fathers in their areas.

“No longer will we stand idly by and watch the prisons, gangs and streets claim our sons and daughters through father absence,” said Maurice Johnson, vice principal at Y2K Academy and director of the Y2K Dadz program. “Because of this grant, we will now have the tools to make a greater impact on Hampton Roads.”

Since 1994, the National Fatherhood Initiative has worked to improve the well being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible and committed fathers, according to a statement appearing on its Web site.

The organization promotes fatherhood through public awareness campaigns, through training and assisting leaders of fatherhood initiatives across the nation and by developing partnerships that will help promote the NFI goals.

“At a time when one in three children are growing up apart from their fathers, Y2K Academy should be applauded for its efforts to engage Suffolk and Hampton Roads’ fathers in the lives of their children,” NFI president Roland C. Warren said in the release.

Y2K Academy is an African-American owned, faith-based education agency dedicated to strengthening and preserving families by providing mentoring to children and counseling about responsible parenting to their parents.

The organization offers free one-year mentoring scholarships to qualifying children whose parents are in jail, and it has established its own social media campaign, “Have you seen my dad?” to encourage father involvement throughout Hampton Roads.

Its Y2KA Family Enrichment Center emphasizes academic support, workforce development training and effective parenting education as a means to decrease school dropout rates, crime involvement, teen pregnancy and substance abuse, according to Johnson, the director.

This year, the Academy plans to launch its “Y2K Virtual Mentoring” program, which is intended to provide online mentoring for youth across the area.

The organization plans to host the “MLK, Jr., Day of Service 7 Cities Prayer Convoy” on Jan. 18 to highlight its need for male mentors to help support the program for children of incarcerated parents, as well as the new virtual mentoring program.

For more information about the Jan. 18 event, or about Y2K Academy, call Princella Johnson at 925-4545, or visit www.y2kacademy.com.