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100 Black Men of Akron organization receiving grant money for expansion of community mentoring programs

100 Black Men of Akron mentors youth of all ages, expressing the importance of having good male role models to rely on.

AKRON, Ohio — The city of Akron is investing $230,000 directly into community organizations that work to curb and prevent gun violence.

Four different organizations that offer mentoring, education or counseling services were chosen, including one that touts its recent graduates as signs of success.

Turn the corner from the Firestone High School football practice fields and you find yourself in the school gym. It's where Carlo Johnson has spent much of the past four years and he has plenty of accolades to show for it.

"Defensive player of the year, like two of them. I was class president, at graduation I got to speak, have a good school year," Johnson said.

Standing off to the side is one of his mentors of 12 years, Michael Irby, the president of 100 Black Men of Akron.

In case you're wondering, the accolades for Johnson continue.

"Graduated cum laude and now I got a full ride to the University of Charleston where I'll be playing football," Johnson said.

Both Johnson and Irby are excited because 100 Black Men of Akron just received $20,000 from the city to expand their mentoring programming.

"I believe young people need to be heard and it gives them an opportunity to vent on whatever it may be," Irby said.

They're also ready to have difficult conversations, meeting once a week during school and according to Irby, hosting a discussion with the Akron Police Department following the Jayland Walker shooting.

The panelists with the questions were students not adults.

"When you give people a chance to share their ideas about what's going on, they feel important, and I believe when young people feel like you care about them, you can get them engaged in everything," Irby said.

For Johnson whose about to leave for college, he has this advice for students interested in the program.

"You can't be worried about what others have to say about you, you can't worry about what they think about you, you got to do what's best for you," Johnson said.

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