Shown in picture above: Greg Dohler/The Gazette. Rob Howze, who runs the youth programs Mentoring to Manhood and Camp Fit, gives a presentation Dec. 16 in Lanham on a new collaborative program to address Prince George’s County’s economic, educational and healthcare needs.
The former hip-hop artist and moving company owner sits in a small office in the backyard of his Bowie home, amid walls adorned with trophies and posters. His ideas are scribbled all over large sheets of paper. His office may be small, but Rob Howze’s ideas are big.
“I always can see the end result,” Howze, 39, said. “Even if it is far away.” Howze is the executive director of Mentoring to Manhood, a Bowie-based nonprofit organization that mentors and tutors young Prince George’s County boys ages 12 to 18.
Boys can stay in the program until they leave high school, paying a fee of $60 a year for mentoring and $180 a year for tutoring. The fee is waived if families can’t afford it. Youths who use the program’s weekly tutoring and mentoring services often come from single-mother homes or parents who don’t know how to communicate with their children, Howze said. Mentoring to Manhood is Howze’s full-time job. His duty is overseeing programs and expanding the company’s vision.
“We are in the business of educating,” Howze said. “I’m a life empowerment director.” Howze also runs Camp Fit, a local TV program that empowers youth to lose weight and awards a $1,000 to the participant with the biggest weight loss. In 2007, he created the World Wide Community, a nonprofit group that emphasizes youth exercise and education and cutting down on teen pregnancy.
Therman Evans, Mentoring to Manhood’s board chairman, said that under Howze’s leadership, the organization has grown into a household name. Howze’s ability to inspire others and his energy makes it possible to motivate volunteers to come out on the weekend to work with the youths in the program, Evans said.
“He always has an inspiring word for our young people,” Evans said. “Many of your young men come from places and spaces of trauma and abuse or thoughts of low self worth. Rob has always had the ability to inspire a young person.” Ron Williams, a video producer for Mentoring to Manhood, recalled a recent event where a young man explained how he had low self-esteem until he went through Howze’s program, but has now learned to embrace himself.
“The importance of having this organization and having this kind of result is immeasurable,” Williams said. “[Howze] can bring you up from a low place.”
Howze said his next plan is to push a Mentoring to Manhood project called the World Wide Collaborative, which launched Dec. 16. Howze said the WWC’s goal is to connect companies in Prince George’s County to the collaborative, so residents can easily access resources to improve the county’s economic, educational and health care needs.
“There is no ulterior motive other than making sure people have what they need,” Evans said. “To me that’s just beautiful. You have to be compassionate to do this work.”