As reported on, written by Ashley Luthern

It’s a Monday night in December and a group of teens in Milwaukee are deep in discussion.

Do you think before you act? Who are you claiming as your friends? Who do you ask for help — and how?

One of the adults in the room, Keelyn Tyler, listens intently before weighing in on the subject of advice.

“Advice is I’m telling you to do something,” Tyler said. “Guidance, I’m giving you an option. You weigh the consequences of whatever you decided to do and then make your decision.”

As a longtime mentor, Tyler knows the difference and how important it is to the young men he works with at the Running Rebels Community Organization.

“A mentor is just somebody who has an interest in helping propel our city to higher standards,” he said in an interview. “It’s that accountability. I can see that you’re great, you just have to see it yourself.”

Running Rebels wants more mentors like Tyler, 31, and now it can, thanks to a $35,000 donation from Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. The youth-service nonprofit will use the money to expand preventative mentoring services, which helps teens before they get into trouble.

The move fits within a broader effort in Milwaukee to build mentoring services and more easily connect young people with caring adults, said John Rakowski, who coordinates the Rebels’ Violence Free Zones in local schools.

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