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Problem

We sit at a critical moment in history.  The murder of George Floyd has awakened the world to the idea that we need to do more for our young men, and especially for our young men of color.  Adolescent boys are least likely to have close relationships with male peers and their families, which has been called a “crisis of connection” leaving young boys with few friendships and lacking a community.  Now more than ever, we need to help build these relationships for our young men. The consequences of not doing so are dire: Young men face intergenerational trauma and systemic racism that have them underserved and struggling with higher rates of substance use, suicide, mental health struggles, and victimization compared to girls and young women.  All of this also impacts their educational outcomes as well.  In Minnesota, male students are less likely to graduate from high school than female students, and students of color have lower graduation rates than white students.

Solution

Affinity changes these outcomes by equipping young men from low opportunity circumstances with the mentors, experiences and tools needed to increase their confidence, graduate from high school, excel in college and thrive as adults.  Through mentoring relationships, our goal is to inspire and teach our young men how to be accountable, have integrity, be respectful,  be dedicated , and have patience.  We aim to prepare our students for a better future while introducing them to positive role models within their own communities. Get Involved Today <link to get involved page>

How It Works

Using a group mentoring approach, Affinity’s one year program guides cohorts of ~15 young men in their junior year of high school through a curriculum that focuses on both social emotional growth and college access.  Each cohort of young men is matched with 4-5 adult mentors.  After a year of our program we anticipate that our young men will increase their confidence, self-awareness, relationship skills and decision making skills. Our ultimate aim is that 80% of our program participants matriculate into a 4 year college.

OUR TEAM

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Sacad Guled

FOUNDER

Sacad Guled is the Founder of Affinity.  Born in Somalia, Sacad arrived in the United States and settled in the Minneapolis area at age 13.  As a teenager, he strongly considered leaving high school before graduating to get a job.  Fortunately, his uncle, a school superintendent, stepped in to mentor him, encouraged him to stay in high school and go to college.   In 2007, Sacad graduated from the University of Minnesota, Mankato with a Bachelor’s Degree, and in 2012 he received an MBA from DeVry University.  After graduating, his career path spanned from personal banking to being an IT specialist. He eventually tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit and started his own PCA agency, Coherent Healthcare, and in 2018, he opened the doors to Coherent Transportation, which provides safe, reliable and punctual transportation for students in the Twin Cities area.

Sacad’s life journey taught him about the change-making power of education.  He learned that with a solid educational foundation, people can achieve much more than they ever expected in life. Sacad’s passion for education led him to start Affinity. Recognizing the impact that mentorship had on his life and educational journey, Sacad founded Affinity to help other young men find positive role models and learn to thrive in school. 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Outside of your family, your child’s teachers and caregivers are the most important people in their life. As such, we place the highest value in carefully selecting and vetting each and every member of our staff.
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Darrell Black

English and Spanish tutor fot your kids

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Bessie Hawkins

Qualified math and physics teacher

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Lee Steward

Physical education teacher and personal trainer

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Scarlett Lane

Child psychologist and child’s best friend

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“We understand how important it is for children to grow up healthy, smart and happy. We develop programs that will be interesting and useful for the future generation of people!”

Gloria Cooper
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“Duis et neque a urna feugiat facilisis. Aliquam blandit aliquam mi, non auctor turpis interdum eget. Aenean augue nisi, condimentum non tempus at, commodo...”

Gloria Cooper
Our staff

Our teachers

Outside of your family, your child’s teachers and caregivers are the most important people in their life. As such, we place the highest value in carefully selecting and vetting each and every member of our staff.
img

Darrell Black

English and Spanish tutor fot your kids

img

Bessie Hawkins

Qualified math and physics teacher

img

Lee Steward

Physical education teacher and personal trainer

img

Scarlett Lane

Child psychologist and child’s best friend

img

“We understand how important it is for children to grow up healthy, smart and happy. We develop programs that will be interesting and useful for the future generation of people!”

Gloria Cooper
img

“Duis et neque a urna feugiat facilisis. Aliquam blandit aliquam mi, non auctor turpis interdum eget. Aenean augue nisi, condimentum non tempus at, commodo...”

Gloria Cooper

AFFINITY PROGRAM

SACAD GULED INTERVIEW

Sacad Guled talks of helping the youth with mentorship program, Affinity!

Sacad Guled’s passion for creating new avenues and making an impact on communities in need didn’t start yesterday. His efforts and aspirations have been deeply rooted in his DNA since he could remember. Now, as a husband, father, college graduate and successful entrepreneur, he is more inspired than ever to share his wisdom and guide the youth in the right direction. How? By launching his all-new mentorship program called Affinity.

Affinity equips young men from low opportunity circumstances with the mentors, experiences, and tools needed to increase their confidence, graduate from high school, excel in college and thrive as adults.

Raised in South Minneapolis, Sacad saw a glaring need for mentorship and leadership amongst those with less access to opportunities. Today, he’s ready to take matters into his own hands with enlightenment for our future leaders.

We sat down with the visionary to learn more about him and his plans for Affinity.

First off, thank you for giving me the opportunity to sit down to talk about my mentorship program. I’m really excited to launch it. Affinity is a program that will help low opportunity high school students in the Minneapolis St. Paul area by providing them the necessary tools to graduate high school, excel in college and thrive as adults – all while getting the chance to learn from some of the best mentors out there.

I feel like it is my duty to extend a helping hand to youth. Our communities, especially the communities I work in, could really benefit from having Affinity as a driving force to help the youth as they move forward in life.

Good question. You know, seeing professional athletes like LeBron James is inspiring. A person who gives so much to the game of basketball, but still devotes time to give back to his own community. That kind of stuff motivates me.

My decision was also inspired by the endless amount of kids without father figures or male voices inside of their homes. I feel like right now is an opportunity to change a kid’s life, and I have the time and resources to assist those in need of male role models. The quote, “you’re not a winner until you help someone else win” always came to mind while developing this program. I’ve always wanted to help someone who came from similar circumstances, and this is my chance.

Absolutely. It was a huge factor in terms of developing Affinity. When tragedies like this happen, especially right here in our own community, it motivates us all to do better. The things we go through as people of color have always been unfortunate, and we can only hope for a better future for our youth. 2020 has been a challenging year, and the death of George Floyd has awakened all of us. Launching Affinity will definitely be a step in the right direction for our youth.

Leadership. Mentorship. Guidance. Opportunities. Some of these kids haven’t even had the proper access to information about finishing high school and preparing for college. Affinity and its roster of phenomenal mentors will be dedicated in efforts to ensure these kids have a toolbox full of gems to lead a great future. We will provide high school resources, college information, potential job opportunities in the future, character development, and more. This is the beat of the program. We’re basically helping them see that what they might have thought was impossible is actually possible. I’m in the game of changing lives and so is this program.

Definitely. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have an uncle named Faysal who was in the education system for years. He served as a principal, school director, and just a very high-profile individual. He provided the guidance and set the foundation for me to succeed. Although he was in my corner all of my life, I’d be lying if I said my journey was an easy one. I faced a lot of the same obstacles and have had to overcome several things to get where I am today.

Unfortunately, with COVID-19, plans have shifted. The original plan was to pair cohorts of 15-20 kids, high school juniors and seniors, with mentors on a monthly basis. We felt daily, weekly or bi-weekly would be too often given the variety of different schedules. So, meeting monthly makes the most sense. The first half of the school year focuses on social emotional growth and relationship building techniques. We’ll also help kids build confidence in themselves and their ability to finish high school. The second half will concentrate mainly on college preparation. Choosing a school, selecting a major, applying for FASFA, and other beneficial information for them to take advantage of.

Another good question. We will build partnerships with schools. Together, we will use a metric that measures the students likely to drop out of high school and those that are struggling inside the classroom setting. Teachers will also select which students they believe can benefit from the program the most.

Once in-person school resume, we’ll have an open session to entice kids to fill out an application on our website. All applications will then be thoroughly examined by mentors and board of directors. From there, we will decide which students to take based on their background. In an interview with those selected, we’ll assess their obstacles and hardships. What are your struggles at school? Are you facing problems at home? How are your child-parent dynamics? Just gathering useful information to get a good feel for students.

Yes. A lot of muses, man. My uncle Faysal, as mentioned before, gave me the blueprint. He still mentors me ‘til this day. He’s a major part of all of my life and business decision making. I’ve also had a lot of other great individuals in my corner as well. People I’ve met through college, business, and people I’ve met in my days working for corporate America. So many people, man. That’s why I believe in my heart that mentorship is an essential tool to a successful life.

It’s been great. My inner circle and the individuals working alongside of me have found Affinity to be a necessity for the youth. Especially the youth of color. And just young men in general. Those who come from low opportunity circumstances. Those who come from single parent households. Overall, everyone has been very supportive and believes it’s a beautiful thing. Even those who aren’t people of color see it as a brilliant concept, and I’m thankful for that.

It has a huge effect. The program was designed to be face to face, working with kids directly once a month. Unfortunately, with schools pivoting to distance learning, it will be tough. Virtual mentoring was certainly a thought for us, but we honor in-person interaction and feel kids would benefit more in that realm. Mentorship with someone you haven’t physically met might not be as receptive, so in person is our way to go. We’ll just have to see how this COVID-19 situation plays out.

Priorities, man. I’ve learned that in my life, if you do things the right way in order of priority, you can achieve it all. Right now, I have the luxury of time. As an entrepreneur, I work on my own schedule, and it gives me the opportunity to do something special with my extra time. That’s an example of balancing priorities.

I’m also a family man. Family teaches me alignment and balancing what’s important. Every week, I have to plan and make time for different things and still withstand my dedication to accomplishing all of my goals. Balance is definitely something you learn
on the go.

Certainly. Although we’re firm believers of education, that’s not all we preach. We’ll also help students unlock their hidden talents and balance the other great things they have going on in their lives. From family, work, school and more – we’ll be there to set examples of balance.

Important question. All of our mentors come from different backgrounds and have experiences in different fields. One of our key mentors is a mental health professional. She possesses extensive knowledge and will utilize it to inform and guide our youth on
their mental wellness journey.

Off the books, yes. I’m constantly talking to younger men in my family and friends as well. I’m always looking to be someone a person can count on. It feels good to help someone when they truly need it.

Be who you are. Don’t be a follower. Always stay true to self. I feel like a lot of youth are struggling to find themselves and to tap into their potential. They just need help unleashing it. It all links back to mentorship. In the meantime, the best thing I can say is be you and stay close to those that love you.