No, not the movie: the movement.
Boys to Men Tucson (BTMT) is an organized movement to show up with urgency and attention for the next generation. When we don't show up for the boys in our community, we don't show up for the future. And what we've learned at BTMT is that if we really want to show up for our boys, we have to go to where they are at. That's right. Back to school. Back to the future.
Follow below to get some energizing updates about where we've been and where we are heading. And, as always, find out more about how you can support--because without your support, this work won't get done.
We wrapped up a full summer of programming for boys in Southern AZ with a trip up Mt. Lemmon and a hike through Marshall Gulch. This was an awesome experience for boys and mentors alike! Follow this link to read more about it.
Fall School-Based Mentorship Programs
For those of you that don't know, in addition to Adventure Outing trips and our Challenge Adventure Weekends, our School-Based Mentorship program is the heart of our work.
Once a week, across Southern AZ schools, groups of trained mentors sit in circles with groups of teenaged boys to do critical work together. Our mentors don't try to fix, advise, or rescue these boys, but rather we listen, accept, model, and bless their inner wholeness. These circles are sacred, and, for many of our boys, one of the only places in their lives where they get such undivided attention and respect. Our circles are a rare safe space where these boys can let down their guard and truly be seen. These are special intergenerational spaces where boys and men do critical work together.
As we transition back to the school year, we have a few new things going on related to our school-based programming:
Monthly Mentor Circles
In July, we had our first monthly mentor circle. We had great representation at the circle including BTMT staff, BTMT Board, TUSD staff, BTMT founder, mentors, and youth who formerly participated in our School-Based program. It was an awesome experience of not only refining our capacities as mentors, but also doing our own work as men.
This month's Mentor Circle will be the kick-off for our fall circles, and will take place on August 22nd.
Our next Monthly Mentor Circle will take place on the morning of September 28th.
Reach out for more information.
🐾 U of A, BTMT, & CCAB 🐾
The critical work we are doing to encourage and train men to show up for boys on their journey towards healthy manhood at Boys to Men Tucson has received some vital support recently.
The President's Office at the University of Arizona has taken notice of our initiative, and has decided to sponsor our 3rd Annual Community Conversation About Boys (CCAB) this year.
This annual community forum calls together a variety of empowered stakeholders for an afternoon of lunch and learning. We will hear from boys, mentors, and inspiring advocates about the urgency in our community to build social infrastructures aimed at supporting boys in their journey towards healthy masculinity. Both President Robbins and Arizona Football Coach Kevin Sumlin will be speaking about the good work of Boys to Men Tucson. Moreover, because of this sponsorship, 100% of the money raised at the luncheon will go directly to funding our vital community-based programming for boys.
Space for this fundraiser will be limited, and tickets will go fast once they go on sale. Please consider supporting our mission by buying a ticket, or buying a table and inviting potential stakeholders to attend. If you know you won't be able to attend, would you consider making a direct donation in support of our programming instead?
For more on the luncheon, check out this write-up on the Arizona Alumni page.
Direct your tax dollars
As we begin the fall season, I want to remind folks in Arizona that you have an incredible opportunity to direct precisely how your tax dollars are going to be used in the state, keeping them in Tucson and supporting our mission.
If you pay income tax in Arizona, you can receive a dollar for dollar tax credit. This is a wonderful way for you to make a significant impact in our community at no cost to you.
Keep up to $800 of your Arizona personal income taxes right here in our community, helping Boys to Men Tucson! Take advantage of Arizona Tax Credit contribution of up to $400.00 per individual, or $800.00 per couple by clicking the button provided below (use Qualified Charitable Organization code: 20799).
In Arizona, tax credits are a great way to reduce your taxes and support local initiatives. This is not a tax deduction; rather, it is a credit that can reduce what you owe in state taxes. By donating to qualified organizations, like Boys to Men Tucson, that amount is credited to your state taxes, and your tax dollars stay here in Tucson, supporting the families we serve!
Use My AZ Tax Credit!
Finally, let us hear your thoughts about how we can expand and improve our mission to organize the men in this community to show up for the boys.
This is a program for and by our Tucson community, free to the families we serve, and we rely on your support to continue to build our capacity to do this transformative work.
To the future!
In the Sonoran desert, the heat has crept towards its peak. Summer is in full swing.
At the same time, elsewhere, behind the mountain range that surrounds the Tucson Valley, moisture has been condensing and building in pressure. These are the simultaneous movements that lead up to the monsoon in Southern Arizona, which is just upon us.
During this season of monsoon, let us reflect on the ways that our labors of endurance and effort are aided by the grace of fresh new energy. Indeed, as you will read below, the pioneering work of so many at Boys to Men Tucson to show up for the boys in Southern Arizona over the years is currently finding all kinds of new boosts, reliefs, and opportunities. Dive in to find out more and to see where you can help!
So far this summer we have had a flurry of awesome activity and engagement between our mentors and boys. In June we loaded up a van full of teenaged boys and headed to Rocks and Ropes for a day of climbing, exploration, and pizza. We had a great turnout, and moreover some fantastic reflection between the boys and mentors about the relationship between experimenting with our boundaries (like dangling from a rope off of a rock) and respecting our limitations (like that's enough blisters on my hands for today). It was an awesome experience and we want to express our profound gratitude for everybody that helped make it a success!
Our next outing will be on the 20th of July, when we have a late day hike and picnic up Mt. Lemmon. We still have available space for mentors and for boys, so let us know!
Beyond that, our digital summer zoom circles have been a great success, with a handful of boys taking advantage of our online check-in space with mentors on Tuesdays at noon throughout the summer.
More information on our summer zoom circles can also be accessed by visiting our events page on the website!
Reclaiming Our Teenage Fire
At the end of the month, the staff of Boys to Men Tucson travelled to San Diego to visit the founders of the Boys to Men Mentoring Network, and to go through their training for mentors, "Reclaiming Your Teenage Fire."
An amazing experience with the founders of Boys to Men, this experience filled us up with excitement and energy to continue to boost this work here in Tucson. We also documented our amazing journey on the BTMT Instagram page, so click the link to find out more!
Mentor Gatherings - New Circles
Through all of these transitions, it's felt important recently to inaugurate more regular spaces for mentors to come together and to do our own work with one another. After all, the circle work that we do to hold space for the boys isn't only a critical practice for the boys, but it is also critical work for the adults.
In June, we held a mentors circle where we discussed the many transformations that BTMT had undergone over the years. We practiced sharing our experiences, holding each other's truths, and asking for what we needed. We also invited young men who were former participants in our School-Based Mentoring circles to share with us about their perspectives. This was an awesome experience and helped us to realize the critical importance of holding regular circle spaces for the adults and mentors committed to our mission to do our own work.
In recognition of this, we are going to be holding monthly mentor gathering circles for the adults to come together and practice doing our own work together. In July we will have our next mentors circle, and we will continue to hold this as a monthly space throughout the year. During the school year these circles will most likely function as a useful space for the folks who sit in our School-Based Mentoring circles to ask for support and to share strategies with each other. Regardless, we want to begin now to honor and practice doing our own regular circle work with one another, for those who are interested and willing.
You may have noticed that at BTMT we are revamping our digital presence. We've taken advantage of these summer months to begin a rebuild on our website--which is still under construction! But we are excited to about making it a more streamlined and functional space for our many users. While it's always been a hub for information about our operation and for donating money to our good cause (I encourage you to try that feature out when you get a chance), our aim is, over time, to turn it into a major resource for our mentors, schools, and boys. It's still a work in progress but we want to thank the many folks who have volunteered both expertise and opinions in this overhaul!
In order to point you towards our other most recent digital development, I want to recommend that each one of you stop reading this email while you open up your instagram app, and go to our page--now hit follow. Great work. Our fresh new IG page is truly our on the ground newsletter for the modern era for folks who want to keep up with everything we are doing. Filled with regular uplifting content about mentorship, our IG also features fantastic content from our boys! We really want to invite our base of supporters to please follow and engage with our page! Having an active page is also a great way to solicit funding and mentors from the community.
Check out this video in which one of our boys shares his story about what BTMT has meant to him.
As always, I want to close this update by highlighting some support opportunities--both those that have already been accomplished, and those that are pending. We depend on your support in order to keep this work moving forward.
Just this past month, one of our stakeholders got word that the Head Start program in town was looking to donate a used bus to a worthy non-profit. She sent me an email about the opportunity and within 30 minutes I had sent a full blown proposal and request for the bus. Well, guess what? BTMT now has a 2001 14-passenger van with only 31k miles on it! For folks in the know, transportation is the major barrier for most of our boys when it comes to participating in our outings and challenge adventure weekends. This donation transforms our capacity to show up for the boys, and it came from one of you keeping our critical mission in mind as an opportunity came across your desk! While we are still working to operationalize this critical donation, it's a great example of what we can do when we are all committed to moving this mission forward. Another stakeholder just this week put me in contact with a local grocer who wants to sponsor meals for our upcoming adventure outings. Consider these stories your personal invitation to be on the lookout!
There are two other opportunities coming up to support our work. First, on August 17th, we intend to host our next Mentor Facilitation Training, Level-1 (MFT-1). We have big goals for the next year to expand our mentorship work in Southern Arizona, with a robust fall calendar of mentorship events, new schools, adventure outings, and challenge adventure weekends. Opportunities for growth are pouring in, but in order to accomplish any of these goals we will first and foremost need willing men. Are you connected to any men who would be willing to show up for the boys in Southern AZ? Considering sharing our web page with them on men's role in showing up for boys. If they seem interested, invite them to attend the MFT-1 in August.
Second, we have an opportunity to partner with the University of Arizona Athletics Department and the University President's Office to host this year's 3rd annual Community Conversation About Boys in November. We intend to take advantage of their generous support this year in order to spread critical awareness about the need for mentorship in our community, to share the vital mission of BTMT, and to raise much needed money to fund our work. As a part of this awesome fundraising event, there will be a silent auction, which is where you all can come in. We are currently scouring the community for items, services--you name it. This event will represent a major milestone in reaching our 2019 annual operating budget. I invite each of you to consider what you can access in your own personal and professional networks in order to help us build up a great list of items available for this silent auction.
Finally, we say a big thank you to all of our supporters for your relentless investment in our mission. As we pass through these dog-days of summer, we recognize that so many of you have hung tough and given so much, enduring the heat that won't quit, trusting that on the other side of all of your good work, much needed rains were on their way. We continue to stand with you in faith and thanks for these present monsoons, and for the ones to come.
Change is in the air.
We've made it through the spring, a time of transition, and summer is here.
Appropriately, Boys to Men Tucson is embarking upon a fresh new season, and I want to share with you some exciting updates about the evolution of our movement to show up for the boys and young men in Southern Arizona.
As many of you know, in April, our Executive Director Felipe Jacome transitioned into his hard-earned and well-deserved retirement. He continues as a volunteer for us and sits in on circles for our School-Based Mentoring (SBM) program. He has purposefully handed off the baton to me, Michael Brasher, to become the new Executive Director, providing guidance and blessings as we expand on the critical foundation built during his tenure.
It's important to me to reach out to our base of supporters, to introduce myself, and to shed some light upon the vision of where we all are headed in this vital work to show up for boys in their journey towards a positive manhood.
How I got here
For the last 5 years I have been building and supervising programming for men through the Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse that attempts to respond to crises of violence in our community. Through that work, we formed and expanded programming around men’s healing circles, developed collaborations and partnerships with the courts and probations, and engaged a range of partners from across the spectrum of community stakeholders in order to envision together how we might push forward for a brighter future for the other boys and men in our lives.
While I have treasured the experience of the last several years, it has also catapulted my appreciation of the urgent need to show up for the boys and young men who languish in our communities from lack of stable, positive male mentorship. As soon as I found out that Boys to Men Tucson was looking for someone to serve in Felipe’s absence, I knew that this was the work that I was hungry to pour myself into.
A handful of additional experiences have prepared me to join our mission. While working on my master's degree on anti-violence strategies in Miami, I spent 2 years living off and on in Colombia conducting research with children and becoming fluent in Spanish. At present, I have just completed my coursework in pursuit of a doctoral degree at the School of Geography and Development here at the University of Arizona. My dissertation research focuses on masculinity, boyhood, and men's work to create community change. Through this experience and work, I’ve concluded that nothing is more important than working together as men to show up for the boys in our lives.
Where we are heading
Our School-Based Mentoring (SBM) program continues to provide critical support to young boys in Southern Arizona, and it is in relentless demand across area schools. Over the last year we have continued to expand, and are now into eleven schools! For the fall, we have one more committed, and another three who are hoping to bring us onboard.
In addition, this spring we hosted our first Challenge Adventure Weekend in quite some time, and it was an overwhelming success. The two-day event was held at Camp Cooper Center for Environmental Learning, with 22 boys participating, mostly from our circles at 6 schools, and 19 adult male volunteers. This was also my first official participation with our outfit, and a spectacular initiatory experience into what this work can be.
Finally, this summer we are rolling out a range of programming to stay connected with the 160+ boys who sat in our SBM circles over the past academic year. We will be piloting an online circle meet-up every Monday starting in June, and we are doing that through Zoom. It should be a great opportunity for the boys who are interested to stay connected and enjoy the support of mentors and friends over the break.
We have a handful of summer events planned for the boys to get out of the house and spend some quality together with our mentors. For June, we are planning an outing to a local indoor climbing gym called Rocks and Ropes, who has offered to discount our rates in support of our critical mission to support the boys in this community on their journey towards a positive manhood.
So what do we need?
What we need more than ever during this season of transition is to hear from you. The amazing legacy of Boys to Men Tucson tells a story of a community coming together because they saw that our boys need us to show up for them more than ever. The present-day growth in our thriving SBM program, alongside the success of our adventure outings with the boys, is all built upon the foundational, pioneering, and voluntary labor of a group of concerned citizens who decided to take leadership on this pressing issue.
As we enter a new phase of this mission, we are putting out a heart-felt call for our supporters not only to re-enlist, but also to tell us what you see as the pressing needs and opportunities for moving forward our mission today. In addition to hearing from you about what is needed, we also need more mentors! Despite being armed with more than 60 active volunteers helping us move this work forward, the demand for our mentorship programming continues to outpace our capacity to respond. With more schools signing up for the waiting list for our SBM Program, we are in critical need of committed volunteers to help us show for those boys. We will be doing a new mentor training in August for those interested in jumping in!
Finally, we desperately need your support to continue to fund this vital community service. From the small subscription donors who utilize paypal to give us a recurrent monthly offering, to those of you who have recommended and advocated for us amongst more substantial grants, foundations, and funders, every single dollar that gets put into our coffers goes directly to support this singularly innovative programming in Southern Arizona to address the needs of disadvantaged boys in our community.
Hit the comments below to let us know what you think about where we are headed and what we ought to do!