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City of Orlando Expands My Brother’s Keeper Program to Edgewater and Jones High School

ORLANDO, Fla. — The City of Orlando is expanding a mentorship program that works with at risk-youth.

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On Monday, Orlando City Council approved bringing the My Brother’s Keeper program to Edgewater and Jones High Schools.

The My Brother’s Keeper program started in Orlando in 2014, but over the last year, a full-time mentor known as a “Student Advocate” has been working with students at 5 OCPS middle schools in the city-limits.

The program takes referrals from the school district to identify students with behavioral issues, suspensions, or low attendance.

An assigned Student Advocate then provides one-on-one mentorship where mentees work on conflict resolution, goal setting, and problem-solving skills.

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The students also participate in group sessions, and parents are actively engaged with monthly calls.

“I let them know exactly what I’m doing on their behalf. Just having their back every day, making sure they stay out of trouble, and making sure they’re having someone there for them,” said Deyonte Henderson, the lead Student Advocate at Carver Middle School.

In just one year, students under Henderson’s mentorship at Carver Middle School saw a 48 percent reduction in disciplinary referrals.

Carver Middle School 7th grader Cortez Harrison told Channel 9 that the program was making a difference by helping him improve his problem solving.

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“If your day goes bad, then you can talk about your challenges. But if your day goes smooth you can really communicate about it,” said Harrison.

The city said the program is being expanded to Jones and Edgewater High School for the next 3 years through a $750,000 grant from the Florida Department of Children and Family Services.

“This grant allows us to expand our services and provide a continuum, so that these young men that are receiving services in the middle schools, do not just get dropped off,” said Bobby Belton, program manager for My Brother’s Keeper Orlando.

Belton said the city will soon hire two advocates to work at Jones and Edgewater High School.

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Each advocate will have a case load of 25 students.

My Brother’s Keeper Orlando will track success outcomes including graduation rates, enrollment in college, and things like suspensions, expulsions and arrests to make sure the program is doing its job.

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