Public Allies alumnus DL White and Call Me MISTER help to shape a diverse generation of teachers and mentors
July 27, 2022 — The magnitude of calls for social justice, change and equality over recent years have led organizations to look deeper into their practices and adjust their missions to be inclusive of all people. However, DL White, an alumnus of Public Allies Arizona at the ASU Lodestar Center, was ahead of the game. Even before completing the Public Allies program, White had already discovered he shared a mission with a program named Call Me MISTER: to increase the number of diverse teachers in schools, while also giving opportunities to students from underserved, socio-economically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities. After several years of working with the program as it spread nationally, White is now helping the initiative make its way into ASU.
The Call Me MISTER program (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) was founded in 2000 by Dr. Roy Jones in Clemson, South Carolina, and is working to advance the next generation of African American, Native American and Hispanic educators and supports their journey in becoming elementary school teachers. The project, currently running at over 30 schools and colleges throughout the country, works to provide tuition assistance through loan forgiveness for admitted students, an academic support system, a cohort system for social and cultural support, and assistance with job placements.
White has been able to hone the unique skills he learned in Public Allies and give individuals the opportunity to become educators within their communities while strengthening them. “This is life-changing, game-changing and community-changing,” White said. “This program [Call Me MISTER] means a lot, because education has been impacted greatly, and this is a way to pick it back up.”
White participated in Public Allies Arizona during the 2020-21 program year and was placed at Saving Amy. This 10-month, paid AmeriCorps program is designed to help develop the next generation of diverse, service-minded leaders. Public Allies Arizona partners with nonprofit and public organizations in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. Allies, who do not need to attend ASU, gain numerous benefits and skills to put toward their future in the nonprofit sector.
“Through the Public Allies program, I learned a lot about nonprofit service and connectivity, and how there’s a difference between advocating for an organization and actually becoming a direct component within that organization,” White said. “I also gained insight into sustainability and outreach, which became objectives that are essential to my job today.”
Call Me MISTER will soon partner with the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU, which teaches undergraduate students to thrive as educators, while the graduate and professional programs work to empower leaders, school principals, policymakers and scholars.
“DL White is an astounding member of our community and has been key in planting the seed to initiate the development and hopefully soon adoption of the Call Me MISTER program from Clemson University,” said Cristóbal Rodríguez, associate dean and professor at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of ASU. “We are thrilled to be in the development phase as we are getting ready to sign an agreement to adopt the Call Me MISTER program.”
White added, “Joining a program like Public Allies Arizona is really an investment in your philanthropic path. Sure, you can slap a name on a new organization and say, 'Okay, let’s go.' … But to really understand the relationships, funding, management and everything that’s behind the scenes of a working nonprofit, you need to allocate time to these kinds of resources.”
Story by Alexandra Conforti, ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation