The Draft – getting the right players in the right positions

Real problems require real solutions with real people with real experiences. 

Are the right players in their positions?

Spring training is underway. In baseball, having the right players in the right position is a well calculated, tedious and significant investment designed to yield results. Every team hopes they have the right formula to win. A formula dependent on having signed the right players, in the right position.

Tackling poverty and failed educational outcomes for black youth in Atlanta requires the same intentionality, the right players in the right positions and a plan for success. Georgia has one non-profit charitable organization for every 361 people. It is ranked in the top 1/3 of states with the most charitable organizations. Georgia’s charitable organizations are generous with both their money and volunteers.

Why are we not seeing better outcomes from these dollars for young black males educationally and economically?

It is clearly not a lack of resources nor a lack of goodwill. However, it is time to ask ourselves if we are really making progress and creating authentic change. Authentic change requires authentic people with authentic experiences. Here are three reasons why I want to be chosen to help solve problems that have generationally plagued our city.

Tilling the ground
“It takes but one person, one moment, one conviction, to start a ripple of change.” Donna Brazile

Reaping a harvest begins with tilling the ground followed by planting and nurturing seeds. If we do not till the soil, seeds, no matter how good will not take sustainable root. Tilling is painstaking, laborious and often uncomfortable, however, it is necessary to weed out the undesired and can lead us to conviction. At times, weeds, posing as wheat, have overgrown the field, choking out good seeds. Planting seeds without a thorough tilling of the soil first, paves the way for waste. Effective changes always begin with a thorough tilling by a farmer with a track record of success.

Born for this

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” Michelle Obama

Born and raised in Atlanta, I am one of the 4% to make it out of poverty. Educated in Atlanta Public Schools, I fell in love with baseball over 30 years ago, dreaming I would one day have the on-field talent and toughness of Jackie Robinson and the off-field charisma and consciousness of Martin Luther King Jr. Little did I know my life calling would be to shape the future of young men like myself.

There is no substitute for experience. Unless we understand another’s context, it’s hard to solve their problems. Transformational change of solving the educational and economic challenges of young black males today requires positioning the players with authentic experiences and successful track records.

I am the CEO at L.E.A.D., an 11 year old not-for-profit organization serving disadvantaged youth. Our Mission is to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city. Our Vision is to develop Ambassadors who will lead their City of Atlanta to lead the world. Our Vehicle is baseball and through it, we empower our Ambassadors to overcome three major curve balls they face in life: crime, poverty and racism. We accomplish this with four clear steps: 

1. Launching student athletes towards educational opportunities after converting raw talent into the skills required for entry into college athletic programs. 

2. Exposing teens to service and local enrichment activities in order to instill a sense of responsibility, belonging and investment; key requirements for building a civically engaged individual. 
3. Advising players, coaches and parents on the process of effectively supporting dreams of playing baseball on the college level.
4. Directing young men towards their promise by using the historical journey of past African American legends as the road map.

100% of LEAD Ambassadors graduate from High School, 93% enroll in College and 90% receive college scholarships. We have a scalable framework, our Pathway2Empowerment, that can be expanded to serve more at risk youth. We are leading the way in empowering at risk youth with our proven track record of success.

Photo by SMAX Photography

Atlanta’s future

If Atlanta is willing to solve the poverty and educational problems plaguing Black youth, we will once again mark ourselves in history. Thousands of of Black males can live a sustainable life of significance. L.E.A.D. does it every year, student by student, player by player.

Partner with us. If you want to be a part of change in Atlanta and it involves the empowerment of Black youth males, bring us to the table. We have a proven track record, a calling and commitment.