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Jazz Derby Day benefits mentoring, scholarships

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The 100 Black Men of Coastal North Carolina is hosting the second annual Jazz Derby Day with the majority of funds benefitting mentoring and scholarship programs.

The organization currently mentors students through the Strive To Achieve Excellence program at Williston and Leland middle schools and Hoggard High School.

“Typically, these kids are C/B students and if they have a little encouragement and mentoring, they can be A students,” said John Battle, vice president of administration.

The May 3 event will be held from 3-7 p.m., at the Dye Clubhouse in Landfall. In 2013, the event raised more than $10,000 for mentoring and scholarship programs.

The 100 Black Men of Coastal North Carolina is the local chapter of the 100 Black Men of America.

“No. 1 shortage of males in the schools is an issue, and then to have black males present in school has a major impact,” Battle said. “…We also talk about gangs, drugs, a number of subjects that are very prevalent in today’s school communities.”

He said the local chapter has been in existence for five years and is currently in the process of forming a collegiate chapter at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Battle said the organization is a lifelong organization, providing networking opportunities after college.

The mentoring programs emphasize being focused and attentive on assignments, along with other life skills.

Five of the seven students will be graduating from the Striving to Achieve Excellence program this year, including Da’Shaun Harrison.

Harrison, 17, joined the program in the seventh grade when he was attending Roland Grise Middle School and the program had a different name.

“I will have it completed within the next month,” Harrison said.

Currently a senior at Hoggard High School, he has plans to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta in the fall.

“I’ve always been a studious worker … but the program definitely has helped me be better prepared for different things like classes and grades,” Harrison said.

He thanked all three of his mentors for one thing in particular — helping him build confidence.

“I appreciate mentorship as a whole,” Harrison said. “I definitely do plan on staying a part of the 100 Black Men.”

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