About the National Cares Mentoring Movement

The National CARES Mentoring Movement was founded in 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as Essence CARES, while Susan L. Taylor was chief editor of Essence magazine, which she led for 27 years. The mission of the National CARES Mentoring Movement is to transform the lives of Black children by inspiring, recruiting, and mobilizing masses of caring Black men and women to mentor and nourish, challenge and champion them.

CARES is the recognized national leader in the recruitment, training and engagement of Black mentors. Our programs address the severe shortfall of Black mentors nationally, and we are sought after by hundreds of organizations that look to us for desperately needed, trained and committed volunteers. Our local CARES Affiliate network, in 58 U.S. cities, recruits and connects caring volunteers to schools and local youth-serving organizations in severely under served communities throughout the nation that have been disrupted by poverty, hopelessness and violence.

In addition, our two large group-mentoring programs in four cities focus on the emotional, social, academic and professional development of our children and the wellness of the adults who mentor and parent them. Our placebased efforts ensure that disconnected youngsters who are most at risk of dropping out of school, graduate and are prepared to succeed in college or industrial-training programs and 21st-century careers. CARES proves that all children, given adequate support, can thrive and reach their potential. Over 95 percent of our youngsters are Black, with over 98 percent living at or below the federal poverty line.

About the Program

The University for Parents is a transformative, community-wide and – driven protocol that focuses on struggling adults in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. The program is being built for replication across the 58 U.S. cities where we have local CARES Affiliates, and is designed to extend academic and workforce support, as well as psychological support and direction to comprehensive wrap-around services.

Under-resourced, overwhelmed caregivers are battling on every front and are stressed beyond measure. Research shows that children in crisis are best served when, in addition to programs supporting their advancement, there is also undergirding available for their parents, many of whom stand wounded and in need of radical healing. The University for Parents curriculum is informed by A New Way Forward: Healing What’s Hurting Black America, our 148-page manual created by our 60-member brain trust of renown leaders in community recovery and total well-being for African Americans.

Our curriculum is built to unearth optimism and liberate a generous and hopeful spirit. It includes education and inspiration and presents caring subject-matter experts as speakers, teachers and guides. Our transformative programming also couples skills-building workshops with intimate, group mentoring gatherings—Wellness Mentoring Circles—that offer principles and practices that foster emotional healing and wellness. Wellness Mentoring Circles are the primary vehicle we use to provide training to mentors. They are single-gender, intimate gatherings that act as safe spaces for mentors to share triumphs and tribulations, be heard and acknowledged and secure support from peers and trained facilitators to help bring healing and balance to their own lives, so that they can better support our children in crisis. In this way we are reinforcing our ecosystem approach to this community-restoring work with a laser focus on loosening the vicious grip of inter-generational Black poverty.

The University for Parents curriculum is grounded in African American heritage and draws inspiration from our challenges, achievements and resilience within a culturally responsive context. It also focuses on reinforcing soft-skill competencies that employers seek in new hires, such as courteousness, self-confidence and self-discipline. The safe spaces the workshops create allow individuals to reflect and identify barriers in their lives, including any addictions, which our trained facilitators can address and refer other services for outside care.


With a culturally focused curriculum that meets our struggling parents where they are, helps them strengthen their racial esteem, personal relationships and parenting skills, and that inspires self-confidence and a love for learning—with these supports and committed partnering organizations, parents can overcome the barriers to self-sufficiency.

Our Mission

The mission of the University for Parents is to empower parents with tools to enhance their self awareness, life skills, and job readiness skills while providing support and opportunities to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families.

Core Values

  • Provide a high quality curriculum for our parent-learners

  • Practice high ethical interaction with our parent-learners, staff, and stakeholders

  • Respect and acknowledge the cultural and socioeconomic differences of our parent-learners

  • Offer support and identify resources to enhance the quality of life of our parent-learners

  • Meet the changing needs and desires of our parent-learners


  • To improve the literacy, leadership, and emotional wellness of our parent-learners

  • To assess the academic and socioeconomic needs of the parent-learners

  • To develop an individualized learning plan for each parent-learner

  • To prepare parent-learners for career readiness and workforce development

  • To improve the communication and interpersonal skills of our parent-learners

  • To enhance the parenting skills of our parent-learners

  • To improve the level of parent engagement in schools