All Things Melanin
Crowned Scholars - Fueling The Next Generation of Young Kings #GoGetter Spotlight
Updated: Dec 8, 2019
Crowned Scholars is a nonprofit organization that is centered around the academic and personal well-being of young black boys. Founded in Dallas, Texas by Rickey Townsend and Michael Coleman ll, they've created a community for young boys to be encouraged, mentored and educated to grow into well-rounded and educated KINGS.
With so much going on in the world, it is brings joy to our hearts to see the difference that Crowned Scholars will make and the importance of it for the future of our young black men. Crowned Scholars is an organization that goes the extra mile to give the love, attention, and push that is needed in our youth. Their mission, focus, and drive makes Crowned Scholars an impactful resource that will change the lives of every young boy that encounters their program.
The founders of Crowned Scholars, Mike and Rickey, are the epitome of #GoGetters and black excellence. They are intelligent, educated, driven and passionate about the future of our young kings. These two #GoGetters are an excellent example of what you can do when you have a village behind you that roots for you, no matter the circumstance. Mike and Rickey share their journey to creating Crowned Scholars and the mission of their nonprofit that will change the lives of many.
What’s your definition of a Go-Getter?
A Go-Getter is someone who knows who they are, whose they are, and what they want to achieve. We are the people that go the extra mile to educate ourselves on something we aren’t sure of, or even forgo sleep so we can push out that last idea we had sitting on our brain late at night. A Go-Getter is someone who does just that: gets it. All days aren’t perfect, but we work with the end goal in mind.
Introduce Crowned Scholars and what it has meant to establish a nonprofit that caters to youth of color?
Crowned Scholars is a new, proactive nonprofit organization whose overall mission is to holistically develop young black boys in our community, preparing them for their futures. We understand that students, especially young black students, need academic support, but also personal and emotional support. It’s easy to get caught up in the “system” and just become another statistic as a black student so we are trying to combat those facts. As Co-Founders of this organization, we both
wanted to find a way to put our common passions into practice and make an impact in our surrounding community.
What inspired you all to establish Crowned Scholars?
The idea originated from watching Black Girls Rock on BET back in 2015. We immediately thought, “why isn’t there a Black Boys Rock?”. We began to brainstorm how we could create some type of event for boys/men, but then we dug deeper.
We wanted to be much more intentional and find a way to have a lasting impact of young black men. A few years later, we have Crowned Scholars!
What is your ultimate goal for Crowned Scholars?
The ultimate goal is change the narrative of young black boys within the education system. Black boys are labeled as troublemakers, average, and uneducated compared to their peers. With Crowned Scholars, we will ensure that each students feels and is valued for who they are and who we see them to be in their future.
Why is it so important for you both to empower and inspire youth of color? What would you all like for them to receive from your program?
Representation is important. There have been many studies and facts that also prove that black students are more willing to learn, and indeed learn better when they have a teacher that looks like them (someone they can relate to). We feel as though we can assist with that representation and directly impact students on a deeper level than they may already receive. When our Scholars move on and graduate from our program, they will not only be academically prepared for high school, but be equipped with the life skills and experiences that will position them for success.
For students who may be struggling or thinking about giving up academically or personally, what advice would you give to encourage them?
We encourage them to reach out to a teacher that they know or feels like they believe in them. Teachers, mentors, parents, and other potential role models can expose kids to their future. A lot of kids only focus on their current life and struggles and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s our job to put life into perspective for them and help guide them along their way.
You both are successful men of color who are thriving in your respective careers. What are you most looking forward to in connecting and inspiring the youth you mentor and cater to?
Rickey, “I look forward to deconstructing the thought of math is hard. The reason they think it is hard and they may hate it - is because a teacher did not meet the individual need.”
Mike, “I look forward to seeing our scholars break down their barriers and walls. We as black men walk around with baggage and trauma daily that we never speak on due to not having the space, or not feeling safe. With Crowned Scholars, we are tearing down all obstacles that get in our Scholars’ way.”
What was your “aha” moment that one or both of you had that led to the launch of Crowned Scholars? How did that conversation go?
God has called and qualified us to do this work. This is our true passion and our hearts are fully invested in this organization. We would do all of this work absolutely free, because God gave us the idea. We are simply walking in obedience.
The idea originated from watching Black Girls Rock on BET back in 2015. We immediately thought, “why isn’t there a Black Boys Rock?”. We began to
brainstorm how we could create some type of event for boys/men, but then we dug deeper. We wanted to be much more intentional and find a way to have a lasting impact of young black men. A few years later, we have Crowned Scholars!
What has been one of the most rewarding moments you all have encountered so far?
At our Launch Party that we hosted in April 2019, the amount of love and support that we received was nothing short of amazing. Specifically, the Q&A portion of the event was rewarding. We received numerous questions, points of clarification, as well as ideas. This told us that our family, friends, and supporters (Crowned Community) are just as invested in this cause as we are, and they truly wanted us to succeed in our endeavor.
What has been a challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
Figuring out how to balance our spiritual walk, our 9-5 , and family/personal life has been rough for the both of us. We often get tired and have to remind ourselves of the purpose of what we are doing, and who we are doing it for. This organization is much bigger than us, so we can’t get complacent at any point in time.
You both formed a brotherhood/friendship in undergrad at UT Arlington. How important was your bond and friendship in launching Crowned Scholars?
Our friendship and brotherhood has been extremely vital to the launch of Crowned Scholars. We know where each other’s heart is in regards to this work and there has never been a time when we questioned if what we are doing is best for the Scholars. Our young black men are always at the forefront of our minds in all that we do and plan.
We also understand that we come from different areas and backgrounds. This is beneficial because we both bring unique perspectives to the table and have the capacity to respectfully share ideas with one another. Our differing upbringings and interests provide a balance not only to our friendship, but to our working relationship as well.
Have either of you ever been mentored? If so, what impact did it have on you personally and professionally?
Yes, we both have been mentored by many different people in our lives. We can both agree that had it not been for the mentors in our lives, we would not be the men that we are today. Mentors take that extra time to teach you things that others don’t, have those tough conversations with you, and also stand with you in your success (or failures). Being a product of intentional mentoring has definitely inspired us to turn around and do the same for others.
You both work full time jobs, have other obligations, and now, a nonprofit, what does balance look like for you?
We are honestly still figuring this part out. It is challenging for us because our undergraduate life consisted of constantly moving around and being involved; 5 years later, we haven’t stopped moving. Lol. Deadlines definitely help keep us on track and in check, but communication is the most important tool that we have. We literally talk to each other everyday, whether it be about Crowned Scholars, or just life in general.
We hope to find a true balance one day, but in the meantime we grind!
What keeps you both motivated to keep persevering?
God. (Period). We are a faith driven people and organization. We believe that this vision was given to us to steward over the community. We are unsure HOW every step will play out, but we are sure everything WILL play out. Complimenting our faith is accountability to each other. We have been friends for years at this point and we know just about everything in regards to each other. We can tell when the other person is having an off day, or where the other person is lacking/needs support.
Our brotherhood allows us to be honest with each other, even when it may be uncomfortable. At the end of the day, we were chosen to do this work for the betterment of our future students and leaders. That in itself is enough to keep us pushing everyday.
Be sure to check out Crowned Scholars at www.crownedscholars.org . Through the Crowned Community, Mike and Rickey have created a safe space for young black boys to thrive and grow personally, mentally and academically. These men are the epitome of what it really means to be a #GoGetter. This is bigger than either one of them ... they're making an impact on the next generation of Kings to come.
It brings us great joy to watch and support Crowned Scholars as they make a difference in the lives of young boys of color and continue to set the tone for their future. They both saw a need and instead of waiting to see what happens, they decided to make something happen. A #GoGetter doesn't make excuses, they make things happen. As Crowned Scholars grows and impacts others, we can't wait to see all you'll accomplish and do.