By Meredith Howard | Staff Writer
Baylor will be home to One Heart Project’s first collegiate mentoring group beginning in January 2020.
One Heart was founded after a 2008 high school football game between Grapevine Faith School and Gainesville State School, a “maximum security juvenile facility housing the most violent teen offenders in the state of Texas.” Grapevine students got together and rallied behind the Gainesville players, performing cheers and waving signs to encourage them.
This event inspired One Heart’s inception, and the organization now boasts a national reach.
The pilot group of Baylor students involved in the One Heart chapter will mentor ten at-risk or currently incarcerated adolescents between the ages of around 14-16 from the Waco area, likely from University High or Waco High School. It’s also possible that some of the selected teens will not be students.
Goliad third-year Truett Seminary student Evan Fleming is a ministry associate with the Office of Spiritual Life, and he serves as the “face” of One Heart at Baylor.
Fleming said the program hopes to accept 10 men and 10 women after their first year, but that this year will be all-male. Mentors will meet with their selected teen once per week during the spring 2020 semester with the goal of establishing a relationship that will positively impact their life.
“It’s getting students that are either in criminal justice facilities or have recently come out and giving them strong mentors to develop good character in them and give them a more positive role model than what they have in their life already,” Fleming said.
Waco Master’s program student Ambree Meek is also a ministry associate who is helping with One Heart at Baylor, and she said this organization will benefit the Baylor community.
“Many Baylor students are not exposed to the nuances and brokenness of the criminal justice system, and it is important to recognize the discriminatory and unjust broader macro-systems that influence mass incarceration of people of color,” Meek said.
Fleming said decisions made about which Baylor students will be accepted and which adolescents they will work with will primarily be decided on by the Texas One Heart Initiative and the chief probation officer of McLennan County.
Fleming said One Heart hopes to launch more collegiate mentoring branches after evaluating Baylor’s program.
Male Baylor students who are interested in serving as mentors can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information, and the mentoring application is also available online.