‘Dudes, Dads and Donuts’: event bringing together resources, mentors for young, Black men across Bi-State

Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 6:30 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A group of dads, uncles, brothers, community leaders and others gathered in North St. Louis County on Saturday to bring together resources and mentors for young Black men across the Bi-State as part of the annual ‘Dudes, Dads and Donuts’ event.

“When I thought about creating ‘Dudes, Dads and Donuts,’ I knew everyone liked donuts. What we needed now is to have a safe space for African-American men to come in and be able to have a conversation and not feel judged,” Arneil Brooks, creator of the event, said.

Through his nonprofit, Project Lyf3 Plus, Brooks kickstarted the event with the purpose of providing young men with examples of strong, successful Black men in their lives. Events like ‘Dudes, Dads and Donuts’ bring fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins and mentors together to discuss common issues faced in the African-American community.

“This is a place where you can come in here, you can be expressive, there’s no judgment, and you can learn from other people that look like you and that you can relate to,” Brooks said.

Saturday’s event took place at McCluer High School in collaboration with the Ferguson-Florissant School District and marked the third annual ‘Dudes, Dads and Donuts.’ Event officials said a record 460 people signed up to take part, putting the need for such an event on display.

Alijah Harrold has attended all three years. Harrold sat in on a ‘Dress for Success’ session Saturday but says he learned more than just how to dress up for a job interview.

“How to open up to other people and how other people see the world, not just your view of seeing the world,” Harrold said.

Harrold’s dad, Albert Harrold, event organizer and director of Family and Community Engagement in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, said events like this prove that raising a kid is a community effort.

“If we all lift a little, nobody has to lift a lot,” Harrold said. “It’s just kind of galvanizing those men around that. Hopefully, the donuts were a draw.”

Panelists covered topics such as mental health, financial literacy and how to handle trauma. Brooks says he and other organizers want to expand to other schools and districts.

“We want to do that work, we just need the resources to get more people involved,” Brooks said.

To request ‘Dudes, Dads and Donuts’ come to a school near you, click here.