July 28, 2017

It’s been less than a month since 100 Black Men of Indianapolis moved into its new office space inside Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, but the organization is already making its presence known.

On Monday, July 31, members of the local chapter of the service group will host a High-5 Rally to greet Attucks students as they return from summer break to a new school year. With upwards of 80 members, the men of “The 100” will form a line and offer high-fives to students as they enter the school around 7 a.m.

It’s a simple gesture, but one Ontay Johnson, executive director of 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, believes can change a student’s day, week, month and even year.

“For me, it’s powerful because when you see the smiles on the students’ faces that the high-five brings, there’s nothing greater. It’s as simple as that,” said Johnson. “Sometimes when you see the students, they’re frowning. Maybe they had a long night or they’re just having a moment, just being kids, but when they see — in some instances — 50 to 60 guys cheering them on and celebrating, giving them high-fives and attaboys, you start to see those frowns turn to smiles, and that just warms the heart.”

Once the last high-five is given, Johnson will probably head down the hallway and back to his office, which is located near the IPS Crispus Attucks Museum.

One of the advantages of having the 100 Black Men office inside the historic high school is being that much closer to the very students the organization has served for more than 30 years through mentoring, education and leadership programming for both boys and girls.

“We’ve been in partnership with IPS for a very long time and with us now being in (an IPS) school, it just further solidifies our work to mentor young people,” said Johnson. “One of the things that’s been a challenge for us, just because of human capital, is that we can’t be in all schools.”

Since moving, Johnson said he has been in “very small” conversations with the Attucks administration to discuss potential programming for the school’s students. They’re even exploring Saturday mentoring sessions for students who aren’t exposed to The 100 mentorship during the week.

The goal is to really invest in and impact the lives of students.

“We just feel like this is a great opportunity with two premiere organizations — with the history of Crispus Attucks and history of The 100 and what we’ve been able to do for over three decades is just powerful — and we believe that the partnership will grow and our babies will be better as a result of it,” said Johnson.