Tigana Duncan helps young men shape their futures

“People need hope. They need a lifeline. Every kid is different. Some need more love than others,” said Tigana Duncan, executive director of Stepping Towards a New Destiny (STAND) of Howard County, as he recalled a middle school student and basketball player that he once coached.

This student was particularly challenging, and Duncan faced pressure from colleagues and the school principal to dismiss him from the team. However, Duncan saw something that others didn’t—a potential greatness obscured by defiance.

“I saw that everyone in his life had given up on him. I kept him close to me and continued to encourage him and work with him,” said Duncan.

Choosing compassion over condemnation, Duncan kept the student on the team, a decision that would echo years later when that young man, as a 21-year-old, reached out to express his gratitude.

“He reached out to me over social media,” Duncan stated. “One of the things that he said to me was that I was the only person that never gave up on him and that he appreciated me.”

This moment encapsulates the essence of why Tiguana Duncan is deeply committed to his work with STAND, a youth male mentoring program he leads in Howard County.

“Stepping Towards A New Destiny is a vision that was birthed out of brokenness, even though we are not broken,” Duncan explained, highlighting the program’s foundational belief in the inherent strength and potential of its participants. And, his personal connection to the work is palpable, “I remember growing up as a young man, and having some of the same struggles that these young men that we work with encounter.”

STAND is rooted in a vision to empower young men through educational experiences, mentoring, guidance and support. Central to this is a commitment to patience, compassion, and understanding that young men facing challenges can change their trajectories for the better.

One of the greatest successes for Duncan is when he sees his participants evolve from mentees to mentors. Many young men who have benefitted from STAND’s mentorship return to the program, ready to guide the next generation.

As Duncan looks to the future, he emphasizes the need for more mentors and financial support from the Howard County community. With increased resources, STAND aims to extend its reach, providing more young men with the guidance and opportunities they need to succeed. Duncan’s experience with students like his middle school basketball player reveal the profound impact mentorship can have—not just on the individuals involved but on the fabric of the community as a whole.

To support Columbia Community Care’s work with STAND Howard County, make a financial gift or set-up a recurring monthly donation today.