Brent Burton: Mentoring the Hope Inside of Others

Brent Burton: Mentoring the Hope Inside of Others

Brent Burton

There are those that spend the better part of their lives dedicated to helping other people rise. They are driven to inspire others with hope, help them discover what they have inside, provide them with the opportunity to create themselves, and be that positivity that we all need to move ourselves forward. Brent Burton (KIPP SoCal’s amazing School Psychologist, Shani Burton’s, dad!) is certainly one of those guardian angels with a commitment to the fostering of Black youth that has spanned a lifetime.

As Chairman of the mentoring committee for the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, Brent helped to launch and continues to run their community-based mentor program, supports their Young Black Scholars Program and a (co-ed) Pathways Program. As Chair of the Los Angeles Chapter for the National CARES Mentoring Movement, Brent partners with and recruits for other organizations to help them develop their mentor programs. As a past President and Executive Board member of the Los Angeles County Stentorians, for a total of 16 years, Brent has worked to build bridges and address systemic racism and implicit bias within the Los Angeles County Fire Department. 

The 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, Inc. (100BMLA”), founded in 1981, is a community-based organization that serves as a catalyst for the disadvantaged and underrepresented segments of the community. The organization is dedicated to making a difference in the communities they serve by demonstrating their unconditional support for the enhancement of youth education. Among their many accomplishments is the sponsorship of the Young Black Scholars Program (“YBS”), coined ‘the premiere education and mentoring program in the State of California, and dedicated to increasing the propensity of African-American high school graduates receiving a higher education.

Brent began his work with the 100 BMLA in 2007, in support of school-based mentoring programs with 6th-8th grade students. In his work with Audubon Middle School where he once attended when he was growing up, Brent recognized that one of the key challenges was to ensure that young Black men were exposed to a range of opportunities, and able to see their future so that they could envision themselves in it. From January to June, Brent runs the 100’s group mentoring program for young Black boys, ages 11-17, within the “See Your Future Mentoring Program.” The program includes teaching a range of life skills, hosting sessions with featured speakers and even adventurous field trips. From ‘Tool Identification’ to ‘How to Navigate Through Law Enforcement Encounters’ to ‘How to Treat a Lady’, the sessions are intentionally informative, at times life-altering, and always loving. At the heart of the program is the matching of a young man with a mentor. The program currently mentors approximately 30 young Black mentees, mentored through 15 men like Brent, a challenging and ever-rewarding relationship based in trust and reliability. 

The mission of the National CARES Mentoring Movement is to secure, heal and transform the lives of impoverished Black children by inspiring, recruiting and mobilizing masses of caring Black men and women to mentor and nourish them. 

And when Susan Taylor, Founder and CEO of the National Cares Mentoring Movement, needed to strengthen their Los Angeles affiliate program, she called on a personal friend, Barbara Perkins, who called on Brent to help provide access to facilities for their events, secure partnerships with and recruit mentors for local youth-serving organizations in Los Angeles, and build out a parent exchange network with sessions ranging from financial literacy to suicide awareness to college prep. 

And finally, a ‘Stentorian’ Brent is, and has been for the past 36 years. The Los Angeles County Stentorians are dedicated to the mission of recruitment and promotion of diversity within the Los Angeles City & County Fire Departments. Since its inception in 1954, the organization has provided mentorship and support to thousands of individuals interested in the fire service, has advocated for issues of racial sensitivity, and continues to work to address systemic and institutional racism and implicit bias within the Fire Department. Brent’s devotion and work with the Stentorians extends beyond the fire service to community centric school based programs and educational classes.

While all three organizations are pivotal in helping to heal, transform and affirm the lives of young Black men and women, it is the commitment of this one incredible Black man that is doing the work, seeing talent and ability in young men and helping to bring it out of them, so that they can, to the heart of KIPP SoCal’s mission, ‘build more fulfilling lives for themselves and for their communities.’

Thank you, Brent for using your power to help so many others tap into theirs.