Carolina man who inspires youth through adversity honored as mentor of year

“Underserved communities have some of the brightest future leaders," Demario Baker said.

Carolina man who inspires youth through adversity honored as mentor of year

Each January, in conjunction with National Mentoring Month, the Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance gathers to honor the remarkable mentoring work that takes place in the Charlotte community.

The alliance highlights the achievements of individuals and organizations that have made it their mission to inspire and motivate youth and their families to continue to lead positive lives.

There are seven award categories: educator mentoring partner of the year, first responder mentoring partner of the year, grassroots mentoring organization of the year, best collaboration in mentoring, peer mentor of the year, mentee of the year and mentor of the year.

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Demario Baker is the founder and executive director of the Nspire-Us Foundation and was selected as a mentor of the year.

The Nspire-Us Foundation was created for educating youth from underserved communities about public health awareness, healthier living, self-esteem and positive lifestyle choices through education, programs and workshops.

“Underserved communities have some of the brightest future leaders, but the resources are limited to nonexistent,” Baker said. “Mentoring and free or low-cost programs are imperative to help kids see, touch and experience opportunities that are conducive to their growth.”

At the recent awards ceremony, Mayor Vi Lyles said that throughout her time as mayor, she has come to know many great examples of how our community comes together and strives to create better opportunities for our youth.

“The best thing about Charlotte is our people,” said Lyles. “This community is comprised of many generous people who work tirelessly to give back to others.”

(Photo: Brandon Todd)

Baker sees the impact he has on the students in his program every day, whether it is the way they smile from the joy they’re experiencing or the tears he sees when they’re facing adversity.

“Trying to navigate through all of that with limited resources makes it hard to see or create opportunities for positive success,” Baker said. “Knowing that, I decided to increase my efforts in attacking the learning gap and helping individuals see the best in themselves and help them to acquire the tools for self-improvement.”

Lyles acknowledged the meaningful work performed by mentoring agencies and individuals in Charlotte, along with the dedication required to support the social and emotional well-being of our future community leaders.

“As mentors and advocates, we personify the generosity of spirit and the unconditional giving of self often required during the most vulnerable circumstances,” Lyles said.

The Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance connects Charlotte organizations to promote mentoring and its best practices through training sessions and workshops, recognition and establishing quality standards for mentoring in the city.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at