KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Every week Julius Ward carves out an hour of his time to hang out at Troost Elementary School in Kansas City.
He meets with students and simply talks to them about their day.
"There's nothing specific we talk about," said Ward. "I ask about his day, what he did for Christmas or what he did for the holiday and then I talk to him about how he is doing in school."
He is part of Kansas City Public School's district-wide mentoring program, which launched last year. The program pairs students with adults in the community who could serve as positive role models.
Now, school officials are desperate for African American and Hispanic male mentors.
And this is why of the 100 mentors currently involved in the program, only 24 are African American or Hispanic males.
The district has nearly 600 students that are waiting to get matched. More than 60 percent of those waiting are African American or Hispanic boys.
"These kids go to school with these situations, which become issues with these kids. Storms that become storms for adults," said Ward. "They need role models."
To help attract more mentors, KCPS is kicking off a program with U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver Thursday at MCC- Penn Valley Community College's Education Room.
To learn more about the program, visit: https://www.kcpublicschools.org/malesofcolor