It Starts With The Why

Do you know how Forerunner started? Well, let me tell you. We started as a college scholarship program. We thought that if we could get our kids to college, they’d be good to go. Their lives would be fixed and all would turn out great.


We quickly found out that sending a kid to college without the tools needed to succeed in college is like putting a band-aid over a gunshot wound. Yeah, it might help a little bit, but eventually it’s not going to help at all. If you can’t control your emotions, build healthy relationships or deal with authority, then an education is not going to help as much as you think.


So we asked the question “Why aren’t our young men prepared to succeed in college?”


Great question. That brought us to mentoring. We thought “Yes, mentoring is the solution to that question!” We decided to start mentoring in 8th grade. “If we can start teaching these kids in junior high how to have positive character and how to succeed in education, then we’d be able to send them to college and all would be good!”


We quickly found out that these kids needed a little bit more than a lesson on honesty and a math worksheet. We realized that by the time most of our young men reached junior high school, the world had already had its way with them. Most were not as far educationally as we thought and they had built up relational walls to protect themselves from being hurt again. They were more focused on being cool than doing their school work and they were stuck in some negative mindsets in regards to education, their future, and manhood.


We knew that mentoring worked, but our mentoring program wasn’t working as well as we thought it would. Where were we going wrong? Were we doing something wrong?


That led us to the questions: “Why are these young men so walled off to help from their mentor?” and “Why are we having such a hard time making an impact in the lives of these young men?”


After a lot of brainstorming, we came to the conclusion that the problem was we were not getting as much time with our Forerunners as we needed. A good mentor spends 4 hours a month with his Forerunner, however the world gets him the other 670+ hours a month. We needed more time. We also decided we needed to start earlier. As terrible as it sounds, 8th grade just seemed too late for some of our young men.


That brought us to start earlier and to focus on fulfilling potential in work ethic through education, character through emulating Jesus Christ, and leadership through the teachings of basic manhood principles.


We started in 4th grade and we spent 3 hours a day, 4 days a week focusing on giving our young men the best opportunity to succeed. We are getting 48 hours of face-to-face time a month. That’s a ton. We are seeing great improvement in grades and behavior. We are also seeing our boys grow in self-worth and self-confidence. They believe they have what it takes to succeed.


The only issue we had was that, despite the academic improvements, the majority of our boys were still behind in their educational progress. They didn’t read as well as their peers, which we believe caused an issue in every subject they took. You have a hard time doing a word problem in math if you can’t comprehend the question. You can’t really work the Scientific Method if you can’t read what the experiment or hypothesis are.


So now we are faced with this question: “Why are our students so far behind educationally?” and “Why are some kids doing better than others If they are in the same classes learning the same subjects from the same teachers?


We know intelligence matters, but it’s not like our kids are dumb. That couldn’t be the main reason why.


We came to the conclusion that educational success first starts at home. The stats prove it. Let’s take a glance into our kid’s home lives.


The moms in our program are incredible. They are the main providers for their household and they work more than 40 hours a week. They cook dinner, do the dishes, take their kids to practice, take their kids to school, help them with their homework, and the list goes on and on and on. However, they are human and there are only 24 hours in a day.


Taking care of kids is hard. Working a job is hard. When my wife leaves me alone with the kids for 2 hours, I feel like I am going to die. I can’t imagine trying to raise kids and take care of a family all by myself.


It only makes sense that the kids in our program would lack the educational foundation that two-parent households have. It’s hard to tell one of our mom’s to stop working to make ends meet to read to her kid. Putting food on the table is a little more important than story time. Mazlow’s Heirachy of Needs tells us that basic needs come first.


That’s where we come in. We will enter into your son’s life in kindergarten and we will focus on reading for 3 hours a day, 4 days a week.


Mom, while you are off providing for your family, we will be investing into your son’s education and making whatever dream you have for him a reality. Our goal is to catch them up to the rest of their peers as soon as possible. We desire to instill a love of learning and of reading in our little ones so they can become the best that they can be.


We hope our mentors are there to guide our young men through adolescence and beyond. We hope that our young men feel like they don’t have to go at life alone. We want them to learn how a Godly man carries himself by giving him an example of a Godly man. We want them to know that there is a man in his life who loves him no matter what.


We hope the literacy tutoring they receive in our K-2nd grade Foundations Program will get caught up educationally so they can keep along-side and, one day, surpass their peers in school. We want them to fall in love with school, gain confidence in their abilities, and know that if they work hard in school that it will one day pay off.


We hope the character and educational lessons they learn in our 3-6th grade Equipping Program will help them become productive members of society who can succeed life outside of high school. We want our young men to learn how to control their emotions, how to work hard and how to treat others. We want to give them a safe place to excel in school.


Those are our programs. That’s our history.


Some people ask what keeps us going. My answer is “We just keep on trying to solve the ‘why?’”


And we won’t stop. We’re not going anywhere. We are changing our generations and transforming Lake Highlands one relationship at a time.


We need mentors, volunteer tutors, and supporters to make this happen. We all need as much help as we can get to answer the question “why?”


Won’t you join us?


Zachary GarzaComment