African-American men and boys face many obstacles as they move through life. While these obstacles are faced at various points throughout their lives, the most challenging obstacles occur earlier in life, particularly for school-age boys. It’s time for communities to step up and help these disadvantaged students find ways to thrive in the world and overcome the obstacles in their way. While this assistance can certainly start in the home, educators and other community members can help as well, regardless of their personal backgrounds.

Educate yourself

The first step to take when trying to help boys of color, no matter your race, is to educate yourself. Learn more about the statistics and what challenges these boys are facing, even if you’ve faced many of them yourself. Be informed on various programs being implemented to combat obstacles and recent discussions on the topic. Learning as much as you can better prepares you to work with these men and boys when trying to overcome the many obstacles they’ll face. Knowing the details also allows you to speak about the issue to others and give them useful information.

Utilize existing programs

For many communities, there are a lot of programs out there that already focus on these obstacles and help African-American boys overcome issues facing them. Familiarize yourself with these programs and talk to them. If you work with the community, such as in a school, philanthropy, or community organization, directly connect with these programs so you can utilize them with the children you know.

Work to make new programs

While there are a lot of programs out there doing great work, there are still a lot of areas and issues that need more attention. If you see a lack of some kind of support system or feel that you know how men and boys of color could be better supported in your community, start a program yourself. It’ll take a lot of hard work, but it’ll certainly be worth it.

Participate in mentorship

A great way to help out, especially in your local community, is to become a mentor. When you’ve faced the same issues that African-American boys are facing, you can provide endless help to them. Simply having someone to talk to who has experienced some of the same obstacles and worked past them is incredibly motivating. You can sign up with a formal mentorship program or do it more informally, as long as you’re helping someone.

Cultivate their interests

Finally, when you’re working with men and boys of color, help them cultivate their interests. Encourage them to pursue interesting hobbies or acquire new skills that can benefit them in a future career or other pursuit. Having something they feel passionate about can help them overcome many obstacles and find ways to get past challenges facing them.