Too much of the news focuses on “Ain’t it awful?!” There are other, positive, stories that the media rarely tells. Here is one of those stories.

Last weekend my wise bride and I went to a fundraiser, an auction, and a musical performance. It was not our first such event and yet it’s not a regular kind of outing for us. We learned about a San Diego group called Boys to Men Mentoring.

Boys to Men Mentoring aims to improve the odds for 12 to 17-year-old males who don’t live with their dads. Warren Farrell calls them “dad deprived” and they face a discouraging future. They’re about three times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers from two-parent families. The odds are they are more likely to be unemployed, engaged in drugs or alcohol, or go to prison.

A Rocky Start for the Program

The founders wanted to change the prospects for these kids, but neither of them had any specific training. They were just dads, and they didn’t know what they didn’t know, but they knew enough to believe that somebody ought to try something.

25 years ago, they spent two years planning their first event for neighborhood lads. Within 90 minutes of the start of the weekend, they realized their plan was a disaster. It just wasn’t working.

They literally burned their program and spent the rest of the weekend trying to come up with something that would be good for the next 45 minutes. They tried to find what would interest the teenagers. At the end of the session, the two dads ask the kids, the “graduates,” if they would help the dads plan another event. They did. The rest, as they say, is history.

How the Program Works

The program includes off-campus activities that provide productive ways to harness youthful energy for adventure and growth. But the core of the program is the coaching sessions and between-session support.

A boy in the program attends a peer coaching session every week. A staff member leads the group which includes other boys and volunteer adult members. They talk about real-life issues like divorce, alcoholism, drugs, gangs, abandonment, and betrayal.

Mentors tell about their teenage mistakes and their consequences. The boys are encouraged to consider the likely impact of their current course and invited to consider other attitudes and behaviors that seem more likely to produce better lives.

The training for mentors is based on two acronyms. One of the founders, Joe Sigurdson, has described one acronym this way.

“We are not there to fix them because they are not broken. We are not there to rescue them, give them advice, and we are certainly not there to project our realities on them. It is called FRAP, and a Boys to Men circle is a no FRAP zone. No fixing, rescuing, advising, or projecting,”

On the positive side, the acronym is LAMMP. The letters stand for listen, admire, model, mentor, and praise.

The Results

Boys to Men Mentoring has achieved amazing success. More than 90% of boys who spend a year in the program earn their high school diploma. A majority of those go to college. More than 10,000 students have completed the program. More than a dozen other cities are using San Diego’s model.

This nonprofit is secular, not faith based. 30 public schools welcome this group. If it were faith based, it would likely have difficulty being admitted to campus or having young men referred by school staff. The schools screen the men who mentor to minimize the chance of inappropriate outcomes.

So, local people do address important social problems. Maybe this challenge stirs you and you’ll visit the Boys to Men Mentoring website. If your passion is something else, how do or how can you serve a cause bigger than yourself?


Let me know your experience. What other good news stories do you know?


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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