by Eboni Thomas (Detroit Community Outreach and Program Coordinator)
August 12th, 2021
StreetWise Partners Elevating Black Voices (EBV) is a safe space for our members in the Black community. This resource group was established in June of 2020, in response to the tragedies of multiple black lives being taken by the hands of law enforcement. We realized that we needed to create additional space for the Black community within StreetWise to come together. EBV is a forum for our Black mentees, mentors, and alumni to decompress, promote mental health wellness, and share resources. We host monthly “chat and chew” meetings for members to connect with each other across all of our regions.
Over the past year, as we listened to our EBV members and noticed a recurring theme – the importance of mentorship within the Black community. Even after securing the job, Black mentees benefit greatly from continued access to a mentor. Additionally, being able to interact with successful Black professionals and senior leaders presents a road map for successfully navigating the workplace and broadens perceptions of what is possible.
Mentorship is a powerful tool for remedying underrepresentation. Along with mentorship comes sponsorship. Having an advocate in a senior position boosts a professional’s career and can combat unconscious bias in hiring decisions. In fact, a Cornell University study showed that mentoring programs raised promotion and retention rates for minority employees by 15%.
At StreetWise, we are taking active and concrete steps to increase mentor diversity while also hosting events on topics specific to the Black experience that are open to the entire StreetWise community. In the last twelve months, in addition to monthly EBV meetings, the group has hosted several events and panel discussions, most notably a panel focused on stereotype threat in partnership with Jefferies that was attended by 200+ members of the StreetWise community.
Next year EBV plans to host more events covering important topics for our Black community. We hope you will join us in these important conversations!