What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
When Rahaman Kilpatrick left Philadelphia in 1992, he took the city’s mantra of brotherly love right along with him. The self-taught barber offers free haircuts to men with upcoming job interviews and students with steadily improving grades.
Interested in more inspiring stories like this? Visit this selection on Giving Compass.
Kilpatrick, who now resides in Maryland, mentors a community men’s group in Washington, D.C., as well as a group of teens and young men ― consisting of 13- to 21-year-olds ― at the nonprofit organization Horton’s Kids. Luckily for these mentees, Kilpatrick, who’s been cutting hair for almost 30 years, understands the fundamentals of feeling good, which is why he’s offering free cuts.
“I started giving free haircuts for any teen who could come up one letter grade or who could bring in a test where they got a C or better,” Kilpatrick, a Morgan State University alumnus, said in an email to HuffPost on Wednesday. “People may not have the money to consistently get haircuts or any at all.”
Teens are always dealing with self-esteem [issues]. Having a fresh haircut for school, prom, graduation, etc., makes them feel so much better about themselves,” he continued.
These cuts also give Kilpatrick some more one-on-one time to pick the young men’s brains and ensure they’re not out here cuttin’ up.
I quickly realized that haircuts are like a truth serum and having them in the chair for 20 minutes gave me the opportunity to talk to them about everything from how to treat women and the importance of good grades to safe sex and making better day-to-day decisions,” he said.
But Kilpatrick knows it’s not just the young folks who want to look crisp ― which is why he expanded his barber services to those in the men’s group he operates.
“I find that one of the biggest struggles the men have is finding employment, so I started teaching them how to write [and] improve their resumes [and] practicing interviewing skills,” Kilpatrick said. “I started giving free haircuts if they have a job interview. Sometimes during the meetings, I could sense if one of the men was feeling down, so I would offer a haircut to make him feel better about himself.”