Are young Black men born kings? Or are they made into them?
“Both,” says Kenneth Crowley, founder and executive Director of the Crowley Foundation.
“They’re born kings but may not realize it because it’s not reinforced in their daily lives, or negative forces may prevent them from knowing who they really are.”
To combat this, Crowley and his wife Jean, formed the Crowley Foundation in 2009 to “tap into that innate spirit and pull it out of them, he says. ”It’s a mindset. A king mindset that sets everything else into motion.”
The mission that drives the Crowley Foundation is “Connecting and Building Young Men (Young Kings) by providing educational opportunities through academic instruction, life skills, social/emotional learning, relationship building and career exploration.”
They foster learning and empowerment by providing leadership development programs, promoting artistic expression, as well as healthy lifestyles via five protective factors including mental health support.
Specifically, the Foundation offers several programs designed to bring the king out of African American males from middle school through college. They include the boys2MEN Leadership Summit, which is designed to build confidence, trust and self-esteem. With events/workshops, lectures, visualization and other events held throughout the year, the program provides mentors and facilitators to lead each session. Using their own curriculum, the Summit encourages open and honest dialogue which allows them to connect and meet students where they are at and truly assess their needs.
Most importantly, they partner with professional therapists and counselors to provide quality service for these young men and their families. And over the course of 10 years, the Foundation has served and mentored over 4,000 young men.
The Foundation also began its focus on college preparation and hosts college campus tours for students making the transition from high school to college. But because of the success of the boys2MEN initiative, they’ve actually had to scale that back – a sign of the success of that segment of their programming.
But they’ve found that with everything else they do, these young men invariable become college-ready and have a deep appreciation and hunger for higher education.
The Crowleys should know.
They both attended Langston University (which is how they met). While there, Kenneth served as an intern at the university’s Development Fund. The experience was invaluable and taught him everything he needed to know about starting and operating a non-profit entity.
“I was already interested in this type of work, so when we returned to Colorado after graduation, we got married, started our family, and started this work as a way of paying it forward,” says Kenneth.
They are now about to celebrate 10 years of paying it forward, along with the support of their children who also work for the Foundation, and corporate sponsors like Brookfield Properties.
The Crowley Foundation will mark those 10 years of work with a “Resuscitate Our Youth” Speakeasy Happy Hour of music, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, poetry and a silent auction at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 26th at Walker Fine Art (300 West 11th Avenue, #A, Denver, CO 80204).
The second, more formal celebratory event, will be the Foundation’s “Rejuvenate the Community” gala set for August 3rd at 6 p.m. at the Wellshire Event Center (333 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO 80222).
Both events are designed to highlight the Foundation’s efforts, and to spread the word about its existence and commitment to serving this segment of Colorado’s youth population.
But most importantly, all of the Foundation’s efforts, ten years and beyond, are aimed at building young kings.
“At the end of the day, if they come away from any of our programs, we’re happy if their characters embody the seven principles of our core values, and that’s family, service, pay it forward, authenticity, integrity, leadership and scholarship,” says Jean, the Foundation’s Director of Operations. “That’s because it’s easy for them to lose sight of these qualities as they navigate their way into adulthood.”
It’s working, because many of the Foundation’s graduates return to help carry the mission forward.
“That’s probably the most gratifying thing,” says Kenneth. “It shows that the ‘king mindset’ makes all of this worth it.”
For tickets or more information about either of the Crowley Foundation’s 10-year celebration events, please call 720-935-9842, or visit www.crowleycollegeprep.com.