Haircuts and Heritage Project Pairs Free Haircuts with Life Lessons for Youth

Kobi Dennis is leading the charge to help inner city youth get a free haircut while meeting a mentor in the barber's chair.
Barber Giving A Haircut In His Shop

For the Haircuts and Heritage Project, youth can get a free haircut while meeting a potential mentor. Photo from Getty Images.

Kobi Dennis is helping inner city youth meet mentors based on their ambitions and goals, and he’s found a creative place to do it: in the barber’s chair. The program is called the Haircuts and Heritage Project and it will pair referred students from partnering middle and high schools in Pawtucket, Central Falls and Providence with a speaker of color who can inspire the youths’ interests and goals. The youth and mentors will meet at Dennis’s new hub at 28 Summer Street in Pawtucket. “It’s more than a cut,” as the website states.

Dennis acknowledges that barber shops have always been a part of African American culture, and he’s using this comforting setting to help motivate youth through mentors. “The fact is our BIPOC youth just need someone to talk to in a safe space,” says Dennis, “and that conversation with the entrepreneur, musician, spoken word artist, black police chief, politician or another professional can be a gamechanger.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the project will take place with Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien and Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera on Friday, September 17, 2021 at 11 a.m. Free haircut reservations begin on Monday, October 4, and the free haircut and conversations start on Monday, October 18.

Dennis has been involved in mentoring youth for nearly thirty years through nonprofits, equity programs and community initiatives. He’s an activist and local leader who helped revive the Midnight Basketball League and spearheaded the nonprofit mentorship program, Princes2Kings, among other things. The idea for the Haircuts and Heritage Project collaboration has been in the works for two years in partnership with the Keep Forward Movement (KFM). The program is also made possible with financial support from the Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC) Foundation, which is focusing on supporting and financing BIPOC-owned businesses and programs.

The hub will also host art exhibits, a library, gallery, health and wellness resources and cultural materials and educational resources.


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