The Victory Project (VP)
is a faith-based, 501c3 organization founded in 2007 has an after school
program for disengaged and at-risk urban young men ages 12-18. VP is a
privately funded organization who accepts no government funding.
Youth mentorship program is growing.
New building helps Victory Project be an alternative to streets.
By Ashley Medlar, Dayton Daily News Staff Writer
After seeing the same youths go in and out of the justice system during his 15 years of police work; Monnie Bush realized there was a problem with youths not getting the mentoring they needed to succeed.
"I couldn't make a difference in the capacity I was in," said Bush, who served as an officer for five years with the Riverside Police Department and later as a sergeant for 10 years with Five Rivers MetroParks. "Law enforcement puts a Band-Aid on it, but doesn't really make a change."
He decided to make that change by founding the Victory Project, a Dayton area after-school mentoring organization.
"It offers an alternative to the streets for local youth." said Bush.
The program focuses on "education, entrepreneurship, and enlightenment." The services offered include tutoring and job experience working through the programís micro- business, Victory Landscape Management, LLC. The mentors and young men gather for weeknight dinners and weekly Bible studies. Currently, 17 young men are participating in the program, but that will expand to more than 25 this spring thanks to a new building at 409 Troy St., Dayton.
"I grew up in a home where my mom was a single parent." said DeMarcus Suggs, the program's director, "I'm the youngest of seven ... my brother, we actually lost him to the streets. I always felt that if my brother had had more guidance and more male mentorship that he would have found the right path. That stayed with me. When I saw Victory Project, I saw a program that was mentorship, but it was tangible.
You're working with them on academics, business skills, interview skills, all the things that are necessary to be successful. I really wanted to be a part of developing other young people."
The micro-business is meant to prepare the young men for real world work. The young men not only do the landscaping, but they also do invoicing, meet with clients, and do some marketing for the business. Victory Landscape Management, LLC started out with about 10 lots a few years ago and now has over 75 commercial and residential properties. A small tree farm off of Salem and Malvern avenues is also part of the business. Currently, Victory Landscape Management, LLC is breaking even. More requests for services from the micro-business's clients have required an investment to buy new equipment.
"We need to put money-into the business to make it profitable. We see it in the future, in the next two or three years, helping us to sustain the non-profit." Bush said. "It's good for the community to see the young men working on the properties. It's really starting that economic engine inside the young men to make some money and do good things."
Tiyaun Williams, 17 and a junior at Life Skills High School, a charter school in Dayton, wants to go to Hobart Institute of Weld Tech in Troy. Robert Baber, 15 and a freshman at Trotwood-Madison High School, wants to go to school for business.
The organization moved to its new building three months ago so it could have more space to expand its services and micro-business. Previously, the Victory Project was located on 16 West Fifth St. in Dayton. Bush said the program needed a building that could be paid off quickly to focus more on putting money into the program.
A fundraising campaign was conducted to pay off the building by the end of January, but the goal of $105,000 was not reached. The campaign raised $50,000 in just over two months and fundraising is still being conducted online, through e-mail, and by direct mail. Victory Project has plans to lease out part of the building to help with costs.
To find out more or to donate, visit - www.victoryproject.org.
Youth mentorship program is growing.