Today is the 7th What it Takes Symposium

This afternoon in the Philadelphia Central Library, What it Takes will hold its 7th symposium to kick off a new e-mentoring initiative. We’ve posted about this new initiative a few times over the last few weeks (here, here and here).

Today’s event will feature e-mentoring training, new e-mentor recruitment and an impressive series of panelists to speak about the importance of mentoring today’s youth. CBS NFL anchor James “JB” Brown will act as a moderator for the event.

Check back to our blog later this week for event photos and highlights!

Ari Merretazon knows What It Takes

Recently, we posted about the new e-mentoring program from What it Takes. This program is using the online mentoring platform to pair 200 ninth grade black boys in Philadelphia with successful e-mentors.  We are interviewing several e-mentors who have already signed up for this program, to find out their inspiration for becoming a mentor and a little bit more on their backgrounds.

Ari Merretazon volunteered as an e-mentor for the What It Takes foundation because he believes his life experiences are a valuable teaching tool, and he wants to engage young African American youth in order to provide the support they need to dream big and begin to realize those dreams . Ari is looking forward to offering advice about the opportunities and challenges—both small and large— that Philadelphia youth face.

Ari is a community economic development practitioner from Philadelphia. He has served as development team leader of the Faith-Based Community Economic Development Initiative, School of Community Executive Economic Development, and Southern New Hampshire University and continues to serve as a guest presenter for the Faith-Based CED course. He is a White House Honoree, presented under President Jimmy Carter and is a decorated Vietnam War Veteran.

“I have had life experiences that young men will undoubtedly encounter and I hope to prevent them from being mishandled,” says Merretazon. “The most rewarding part of mentoring is transferring knowledge and experiences to youth to help them contribute to society in a meaningful way.”

Ari has previously mentored through the Rightful Passage program, where he used email as a mentoring tool, but this is his first experience with the e-mentoring platform. Always busy and on-the-go, he’s looking forward to a way to give back to students on a regular basis through such a convenient, online program.

Mentors needed to help Philadelphia students learn “What It Takes”

We are very excited to announce a new partnership with the What it Takes Foundation! Through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the What It Takes Foundation in Philadelphia began a new initiative this week. Their new e-mentoring program aims to provide a safe, secure environment to connect high potential but low performing young black men with successful black male role models.

We are excited to provide the e-mentoring platform for What It Takes to expand their reach while ensuring the safety of all the students involved. In this pilot program, 200 ninth-grade boys in Philadelphia will each be paired with a mentor based on career interest. Mentoring will be carried out completely online and mentors only need to commit one hour per week, per mentee.

This new partnership requires more than just an online mentoring platform and financial support; it requires more mentors! If you or someone you know meets the requirements to be an e-mentor for this program, we encourage you to sign up and help spread the word.

The requirements to be a mentor for the What It Takes e-mentoring program are:

  • Black males, age 21+
  • Highly successful entrepreneur or professional
  • Able to inspire students, through support and guidance, to focus on education so they can create meaningful goals for success
  • Able to commit to structured, online, meaningful exchanges with their mentee a minimum of once per week for at least 9 months
  • Able to participate in face-to-face contact with their mentees at What It Takes Symposia

Notable past What It Takes panelists include Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Charles Barkley, Pensole CEO D’Wayne Edwards, SVP of Air Jordan Brand, Nike Howard White, Philadelphia Eagles and 76ers players such as DaSean Jackson and Andre Iguadala, US Army General Barrye Price, Steven A. Smith and James “JB” Brown of ESPN, and host of BET’s 106 & Park Terrence J.

This program can make a huge difference in these young men’s lives. Please help us spread the word to partner these kids with great online mentors! To learn more or register please head over to