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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Twelve-year old Daniel Laster has come a long way. He lives in a single-mother home with no father figure. In the sixth grade he started making poor decisions. His grades dropped and he wasn't behaving at home. This all changed once Daniel met "Mr. D".
DeAngelo Robinson is the founder of Charlotte's "Boys to Men Foundation". The purpose is to provide a way out for young males ages seven to seventeen who are at risk of failing, and in need of a male mentor in their lives. The foundation offers mentoring, tutoring, parent workshops, and community service activities. The mothers of the boys involved are also required to participate in a community service activity.
Robinson, who is only 26, says he started the organization because of need.
"Growing up I had a father, but at times I felt like I wasn't loved", says Robinson. "I wanted to make sure that every child especially young men had a male figure to look up to."
Memories of his own childhood inspired Robinson to start the foundation with co-founder Christopher Fowler in 2008. Robinson says his father worked all the time and wasn't around much. He credits a football coach with giving him the attention he was missing.
"I don't know where I'd be if I didn't have Coach helping me," he says.
Charlene Laster is Daniel's mother. She's a single mom to three boys. She says she researched Boys to Men and ended up liking what the foundation stood for. She applied for a spot, and Daniel got in. Within months, she says, Daniel's bad habits began turning into positive lifestyle choices.
He had been making "D's and F's". But she says after DeAngelo got involved, Daniel started reading his textbooks that he hadn't opened since the first day of school. He studied outside of the classroom. She says he even started sitting in the front of the class.
"I liked the feeling of passing," Daniel says. "And I kept on passing."
His first test grade soon came back as a 98.
The Boys to Men Foundation is a certified 501-3(c) non-profit. It currently helps 8 to 12 boys in CMS schools each semester. Robinson says they're still looking for a permanent space to have programs and workshops.