Story by Sarah Sabatke

Richard Chandler Jr. smiles at the camera.
Richard Chandler Jr. Photo by Mikala Compton

Mentors steered every part of Richard Chandler Jr.’s journey to Mizzou. In high school, his coaches instilled an expectation of excellence in him. An attentive school administrator encouraged him to continue his academics past high school. Another mentor brought Chandler to Mizzou for a visit, a trip that solidified his college choice.

Once on campus, Chandler joined the Mizzou Black Men’s Initiative (MBMI), a leadership development organization that pairs African-American students with peer mentors.

The organization gave him a group of mentors and friends as well as opportunities to work with people in the Columbia community. He and his fellow MBMI members visited Atlanta on a Mizzou Alternative Breaks trip, sorting textbooks for area schools by subject and grade level. The trip brought the members even closer together. One of the tenets of alternative breaks is the importance of bringing what you learn back home.

With those experiences in mind, the Chicago native created “Buckets of Change” in fall 2017. The student organization will allow Mizzou undergraduates to mentor high school students in the Columbia community.

“I just thought it would be great to [pass on] what was instilled in me to someone else,” Chandler says.

His vision for the program is to have weekly meetings and classroom sessions, and end-of-semester tours of Mizzou for the high school students.

“That’s what it’s about,” says Chandler. “It’s just that fluid progression that we can all help each other.”

Chandler graduated this May and hopes new student leadership over Buckets for Change will grow the organization for years to come.

“It’s a great opportunity for someone to experience after school,” he says. “I think it’s something that’s needed amongst the high school students here in Columbia.”