Change the Product: Youth Program Using Street Business Skills Creates Young Entrepreneurs
The Life Long Mentoring Services (LLM) is a light in a cold, dark world for many young chronic offenders.
“In many cases, the next stop for these kids is prison and a life long road to hell,” explains President Corey Byrd, a long-time youth advocate. “Before these kids even fully understand what life is about, they find themselves in deep trouble that usually ruins their entire life.”
Last year, Byrd was challenged by a group of stone cold juveniles who were especially “hardened”. Instead of getting discouraged, Byrd decided to change his entire model in a desperate attempt to reach the kids in their world.
“People do not understand, regular standard of programming is not working with many youth in today’s society, you have to get inside of their minds and pull out the gifts lying dormant,” explains Byrd. “I decided to challenge them. I altered my entire standard of programming and started by changing the entire game.”
Byrd, knew the playing field with these youth was mental, so he gave them all a new identity. “Instead of referring to them as delinquents in my program, they became “Street Wizards” and I called this new game, “Change the Product”.
Byrd wanted to prove to the group that they had excellent business minds, and the same skills they used on the streets could be used in legitimate business. “So we changed the product,” he laughs. “The kids thought I was crazy and laughed at me when I told them for every dope deal they “could” have transacted, I needed them to search out a vending or distribution company and add it to our database.”
Within months, the “Change The Product” game amassed a list of thriving vendors and became a real business, a convenience store humbly housed in Minneapolis Sabathani Community Center. “We currently work with distributors from all across the country, our most supportive distributor is SNC Distributors,” explains Byrd.
By the end of the year, the group earned nearly $10,000.00 on their own, legitimately. With the proceeds the group earned, they mutually voted to split the profits and reinvest half in inventory and pay themselves the remaining profit. Most importantly the majority of the youth in the group have not reoffended and have made major changes in their lives.
To support: www.lifelongmentoring.com