The following was published by NBC5.

By Anna Guber

Check out the full story here.

The nonprofit organization College For Every Student in Essex, New York, partnered with the University of Vermont to launch the “Young Men of Talent” pilot program.

It’s a free seven-year program connecting Black and Latino male students at UVM with mentors and career preparation opportunities to help students be their most successful in college and after graduating.

20 students from UVM’s class of 2028 are already benefiting from the initiative. Manny Tejeda, a program organizer from CFES, said students should who applied for and were accepted into the program, take part in workshops and other career readiness activities.

Tejeda added students in the program are also paired with volunteers from Vermont organizations and businesses for mentorship’s and to provide students with professional advice, networking opportunities and resources. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics men of color have the highest unemployment rate of any race or gender group

“They don’t have the network at the professional level which excludes them from a lot of opportunities to really have a full college experience where they bring a lot of experiential components to the interview, to the job,” Tejeda said. “So, with this program, our hope is, our goal is, that they will have those things, right? So that once they go on that interview, they might know a few people where they’re interviewing and can make those connections.”

Tejeda said only first and second year UVM students are being accepted as mentees in the program. However, juniors and seniors can apply to be peer mentors.

Ayden Carpenter, a junior at UVM, said when he learned he could help guide students of color starting at UVM, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“It’s a very small percentage of men on this campus that look like me,” Carpenter said. “And it’s important to, one, provide the resources to students like that but also to build community among us.”

Carpenter said he hopes the program encourages more students of color to apply and stay at UVM through graduating.

“That by building community across like all four years from like that first year to senior year, there’s support and there’s like retention and people stay and are happy and that’s kind of what the dream is,” he said.

Tejeda said the plane is to expand the program to other colleges, universities and even high schools around the country.

But for now he said the program still needs more mentors. Any students interested in applying to become a peer mentor should contact Jayden Santos at UVM’s Mosaic Center for students of color. If you’re a business or organization looking to mentor students, you can email info@brilliantpathways.org.