By Laura Haefeli

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California community colleges have benefitted for more than a decade from AMEND, a mentorship program tailored to African American men that is picking up steam in our area.

The program’s founder, Cosumnes River College President Dr. Edward Bush, says guiding young people is critical throughout their academic journies.

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From family friends to brothers, Jordan Sanders and Da’Monk Millan’s bond is unbreakable. They were brought together by AMEND, which stands for African American Male Education Network and Development.

“It was a safe space for us,” said Millan, a senior at Sacramento State University.

“I didn’t really find amend AMEND kind of found me,” said Sanders, a sophomore at Cosumnes River College.

Sanders’ direction was unclear until he joined the program.

“I haven’t had anybody approach me with this kind of opportunity as I was growing up and going through high school,” he said. “It gave me a sense of direction, a sense of encouragement.”

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And at 18 years old, it gave him a path to success.

“I don’t think I would be in college,” Sanders said. “AMEND helped me see that sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do to get where you want to get to.”

According to the National Student Clearinghouse research center, college enrollment among African American men has steadily declined for a decade, and since the pandemic began, it’s dropped an additional 8%.

AMEND’s mentors want to change that.

“We know that representation matters. It’s difficult to be something you’ve never seen,” Dr. Bush said. “When you see someone who comes from the same background was able to be successful, then you know what’s actually possible yourself.”

As part of its mentoring initiative, AMEND offers scholarships to provide mentees with financial support for tuition, books and living expenses. AMEND has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships to African American students.

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“The word I could use if I could pick one word is life-changing,” Sanders said. “AMEND changed my life.”