By James W. Ribbron
Neighbors Staff Writer
As the guy in charge of the corporate foundation for GMAC, Donald Ferguson had some say-so in how charitable dollars were spent.
“I gave money to 100 Black Men of America,” Ferguson said. “During that process I discovered there might be more things I could do than simply give money, so I decided to join the Detroit Chapter of 100 Black Men.”
Married and the father two children, he said he believed he could reach even more children. He sees it as a way to pay it forward.
“Mentoring provides exposure and experiences that our young men may not have an opportunity to receive,” said Ferguson who currently works for the Michigan Attorney General’s Cyber Safety Initiative team.
“I mentor because someone did it for me,” he said. “ Without his support, I may not have gained a number of experiences. Now, I have the opportunity to give back.”
He mentors through a 100 Black Men’s initiative called Project Success. It was created to help increase the number of black boys who graduate from high school on time. Statistics showed that only 22 percent of black boys in Detroit were graduating on time.
“We started in 2007 with our first group of 35. Since 2010 we have had a 100% on-time graduation rate for the participants in Project Success,” he said.
Project Success began at Southeastern High School, but eventually moved to Old Redford Academy so the group could begin working with boys in the 6th grade with the goal of staying with the young men through college. Ferguson meets with the boys on Saturdays; about four other 100 Black Men assist.
The program through its mentors teaches life skills, and etiquette, such as how to tie a tie, set a table and greet a young lady. It also conflict resolution, financial literacy. This year each young man will receive and laptop and an introduction to Microsoft Office; Word, PowerPoint, EXCEL and ACCESS. In addition, they will receive 8 weeks of coding training.
Ferguson was among those honored September 5 by Gov. Whitmer with The Governor’s Service Award.