How Project G.R.I.N.D is Making a Difference


grind_main Greatness Resides In Nonstop Dedication: This is the meaning of “grind” for Project G.R.I.N.D., a mentorship program that helps underrepresented young men in the Syracuse city school district. The organization is committed to teaching young students and helping them achieve academic, professional, and personal excellence.

Now who exactly is behind Project G.R.I.N.D.? It was founded in the fall of 2013 by David L. Jackson, Tony Wright, Dmarquez Black Grissom, Jacob Friesen-Grant, Bilal Scott Vaughn, and Hernz Laguerre. These undergraduates took it upon themselves to inspire and serve an underrepresented community, which they can relate to. Perhaps you’ve seen them around campus with their gray T-shirts or sporting apparel with the logo, but what is evident about these young men is their dedication and enthusiasm.

Having only been around for two years, the program has found a way to garner a lot of attention and has quite the following. In the last few months alone, it seems as if students have jumped on the bandwagon to be part of the organization. Most of the participants and mentors are men, since they primarily work with males. I was curious to know if there would be a plan to involve women. A spokesperson for the group says, “through our workshops the values we are impressing upon our young men will in fact benefit women.” Looking around college campuses and the world we live in, this philosophy is paramount when considering the alarming rates of sexual assault and violence against women (and others), and hopefully the students who are being mentored will internalize that message.

So, why should people care? It’s often said that the youth are the future, and Project G.R.I.N.D. is out here motivating them. But don’t mistake their dedication for self-gratification. They say, “We don’t mentor for recognition but rather to steer our future in a direction of positivity.” And in an age when most are looking for self-adulation (see Kim K’s selfie book), it’s refreshing to know that a group can display humility while serving others. So how does the program plan on extending in the future? Well for any program committed to students, the goal the spokesperson said, “is to have a long-lasting effect.” They not only want to serve the community, but also the campus by bringing in workshops.

If there one’s thing I’ve noticed about the mentors, it’s their clear passion for the program and its mission. They’re always asked “Why do you grind?” or “Who do you grind for?” and they answer, “We grind to educate and empower our youth impressing upon them the fact that they are more than the probabilities; they are possibilities for something great.” If that doesn’t want to make you go out and create a difference, I don’t know what will.

Photo by Adham Elsharkawi