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Faith-based groups. Community organizations. Antiviolence coalitions. Sororities. Fraternities. Elks lodges. Masonic societies.

Buffalo is full of civic groups that provide a variety of mentoring and tutoring services and scholarship opportunities for young people.

But what would happen if all the groups got together in one organized system to figure out how to maximize their services to students in the city’s struggling schools?

That’s the approach the United Black Men’s Think Tank of Buffalo will explore today at a meeting it is hosting to build a body of mentors to work with children in the Buffalo Public Schools.

Community, civic and church groups are invited to attend “Developing a Meaningful Mentoring Initiative” from 2 to 4 p.m. at A. Rafi Green Community Center, 1423 Fillmore Ave.

“We’re trying to bring these mentoring groups together so that we can develop a unified structure of how we can provide mentoring opportunities for kids in the Buffalo Public School district,” said L. Nathan Hare, Think Tank chairman and executive director of the Community Action Organization of Erie County.

By establishing an organized coalition of groups that offer some type of mentoring services, the Think Tank hopes to develop a “meaningful” approach to helping students who are achieving below grade level in English and math.

The focus of the meeting will be to identify existing mentoring efforts, figure out where gaps exist and develop a plan to pull together all available resources to strengthen current programs and determine how to expand individual and group mentoring efforts.

The ultimate goal will be to recruit additional adult mentors, identify what support systems are needed to enhance the effectiveness of existing efforts and establish a method for the groups to work with the Buffalo Board of Education to build a broad base of mentoring initiatives.

The United Black Men’s Think Tank celebrated its third anniversary with an awards dinner in February and has a history of working with the community, especially minority communities.

Past initiatives include a Buffalo Board of Education candidates’ night forum before last spring’s elections, a Masten District emergency preparedness project last year to link residents with institutions in case of disasters, and an educational conference at Burgard Vocational High School last fall to motivate parents and students to take ownership of their schools and to help build an education-oriented community.

For more information on the Think Tank and its programs, call 884-3312.

email: dswilliams@buffnews.com