Photo courtesy of 1Nation
Left to right: NaSean Degounette, Antonio Cheatom, Sam Morant, Diego Williams, JaQuae Jackson, Derrell Key, Kevin McNair, Dasean Cruz, Lloyd Cheatom, Kaleb Jefferson
After their two-year Heinz Fellowships came to a close in 2015, Lloyd Cheatom, Kevin McNair, and Sam Morant decided their work wasn't done. They'd each spent two years working as mentors in Pittsburgh public schools — Westinghouse Academy, Brashear High School, Obama Academy, respectively — and learned about the strengths, challenges and potential for growth in mentorship programs in these communities.
Pooling knowledge from their experiences, they created 1Nation, a mentorship program to "serve African American youth ages 12-24 by cultivating their leadership potential, empowering positive behavior, and promoting healthy life decisions." The program provides both in- and out-of-school activities, as well as an 6-8 week "summer camp" which stresses workforce and college readiness and cultural education.
On Saturday, 1Nation celebrates its fourth year with a fundraising gala, the "Take a Walk In Our Shoes" Sneaker Ball at August Wilson Center. The dress code: black tie and sneakers.
In addition to food and cocktails, there will be music from the young jazz outfit Funky Fly Project
(who are often already in black ties to begin with), a DJ and an auction. Brian Burley, of YNGBLKPGH
, will handle emcee duties, and the Jeron Grayson Community MVP award winner will be announced.
Photos courtesy of 1Nation
Co-founders of 1Nation Mentoring, left to right: Kevin McNair, Lloyd Cheatom, Sam Morant
Morant says that while 1Nation has been able to rely on grants for its programming, fundraising from events like this is vital to keeping it going and growing into the future. Right now, the founders are focused on expanding into more local schools and establishing more ambitious ideas, like planning college tours for the mentees.
"This is an escape for them, a chance for them to get away from just sitting at home all day or being out in the streets," says Morant. "Because we know what that leads to."
To get involved with 1Nation, get tickets for the Sneaker Ball or donate to the cause, visit 1NationMentoring.org or 1NationSneakerBall.Eventbrite.com
Sneaker Ball 6 p.m. Sat., July 21. August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown.