It takes a village to raise a child.

But in our society, we also have to reach the children born outside the village.

For some of Chesterfield County’s students, that’s where MEGA Mentors comes in. Without care and mentorship, these students suffer academically and socially. And MEGA Mentors provides the role models, positive experiences, tutoring and leadership that they need.

According to Larry Murphy, the chairman of MEGA Mentors’ school program committee, “the main mission of MEGA Mentors is to make a measurable difference in the lives of students—in particular, African-American students—in Chesterfield County schools.”

Since its inception in 2009, MEGA Mentors has served more than 600 students at eight schools. The organization’s impact is inspiring: MEGA Mentors students are going to school more often, doing better in school, sticking with school and graduating from school. And even better—these graduates are pursuing higher learning and/or career opportunities after graduation.

And with all this improvement comes the right kind of attention.

In 2015, the Chesterfield County School Board and Administration named MEGA Mentors as its Community Partner of the Year–the highest award the school system can offer.

But that wasn’t the only major accolade that came to the group.

In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded MEGA Mentors with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for more than 1,000 hours of community service in a calendar year.

Whether it’s one-on-one mentoring or primarily group work, the 175 mentors give students their time and expertise, meeting hourly twice a month at host middle and high schools.

One day the conversation might center around how to set and achieve goals; the next, everyone might be talking about financial management and professionalism.

Over the course of their middle and high school careers, these students constantly receive advice, leadership, and encouragement from caring adults who take an active interest in their future.

On top of the obvious benefits, MEGA Mentors offers its students merit-based rewards: field trips, museum and sporting event tickets, and a place at their annual awards banquet.

At every Freedom Classic Festival, you can see dozens of proud MEGA Mentors students in the stands, along with their mentors and families.

And every year—during the week leading up to the Freedom Classic—MEGA Mentors holds a Fine Art Benefit and Sale to help support the program. This year’s benefit, scheduled for Friday, January 18th, should be bigger and better than ever.

To learn more about MEGA Mentors, visit their website at www.megamentors.org.

And to register to attend the Fine Art Benefit and Sale, sign up here.