Philadelphia, PA – The Made Man Foundation was founded in 2013 by Dr. Ky Dele a former social worker, psychologist and agent for professional athletes and entertainers because she wanted to recognize and honor honest, hard working, high achieving community oriented African-American men who were being ignored, demonized, criminalized and marginalized in American society. During the press conference Dr. Dele explained what motivated her to start The Made Man Foundation, “Being a psychologist and seeing so many of our boys go to jail I asked myself what can I do? So I quit being a social worker because I couldn’t do this anymore. I started managing athletes and they told me ‘I want to go into the schools and I want to give back’, then we got so many more saying that and we just needed a bridge. I started with John Starks and we started collecting suits and it morphed into this.
I said I was going to start a tour they said ‘you don’t have any money’. I know but I know a lot of people. The NBA came onboard, the NFL came onboard and 100 Black Men came onboard, Morehouse Alumni and the National Urban League came onboard. I had about 300 partners with no money but a lot of hope and a lot of great men ready to give, that’s all I needed.
Everyone asks me, ‘why do you honor so many men?’ and I tell them why can’t these men be recognized that have not been recognized and connected already. We have our fraternities and social groups and they all have their own missions and visions why can’t we all come into a room and just connect without having an agenda and just give back without expectations and just celebrate each other, do you know the spirit of what that means? That is what’s happening now; this is not something I wrote a five year plan on and I certainly don’t know what tomorrow looks like but I know the spirit is in this room.”
The goal of The Made Man Foundation is to create an expanding network of action oriented, influential African-American men willing to make their presence felt in a positive fashion by collaborating and giving back to help underserved African-American youth and adult males by providing them with the tools and templates for success.
The Made Man initiative has expanded to include seven cities and has immediate plans to enlarge further. TMM is active in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Atlanta Georgia, Chicago Illinois, New Orleans Louisiana, Houston Texas and Charlotte North Carolina. Currently TMM is planning a nation wide tour that will also include Jacksonville Florida, Detroit Michigan, and Los Angles California. Thus far the organization has recognized and honored over 600 men around the country.
On November1, The Made Man launched its nation wide tour in Philadelphia with a myriad of all day programs, activities and events culminating with a reception and awards program honoring this year’s fifty honorees at the Wells Fargo building at 123 S Broad Street.
The Made Man initiative facilitates youth mentoring workshops, works with local schools and community organizations to pair them with positive influential Black men who are willing to give back to their communities. They assist in recruiting mentors for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, work closely with Daddy University, People to People and the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement to supplement and augment their programs. They also work with high school students to prepare them for college.
The Made Man initiative sponsors a nation wide suit collection drive for men coming out of incarceration, treatment and recovery programs and helps males prepare to enter the job force. So far they have donated 18,000 suits nation wide. Dr. Dele has partnered with the 100 Black Men of America/Philadelphia, NBA, NFL and National Urban League as well as Wells Fargo Bank, Aspire TV, Ciroc, Miller-Coors brewery and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Dr. Dele has been asked to come to Africa to replicate the program there. “I was approached by the UN, the United Nations, they wanted to build a bridge between Africa, the US and African-American leaders. They said ‘we researched you and you are the only one that has a data base of leaders that actually are not connected to each other they are only involved for the sake of others and not for themselves, there is no corporate umbrella that is putting stress on those men, they can be themselves in those rooms you are creating.’”
Dr. Dele asked them what they wanted from her and they said, “We want you to come to Africa and do what you are doing in the USA.” She told them the issues she was dealing with here are absentee fathers, massive violence, and incarceration and asked them what issues they are dealing with in Africa. They responded, transformational leadership, “African leaders are transactional and African-American leaders have learned through their plight and struggle how to be transformational, we want you to bring African-American leaders to Africa to show examples of what can happen once you overcome your plight and find yourselves.” Currently she is planning and preparing to go to eight cities throughout Africa.
The program encourages past awardees, they call alumni, to stay connected and be supportive of the new awardees and what they are doing. Emil Acolacse was recognized and awarded The Made Man last year for his community organization Free Inspiration Reaching Everyone (FIRE). His organization helps young people decide what career path they want to pursue. “The goal of my organization is to put the youth in the direction they want to go and grow. For example if they want to be a doctor or lawyer we help them prep through SATs, mentorship, internships and help them figure out which college they want to attend. We try to groom them early we help them be more focused so they don’t waste their time and money then found out that’s not what they want to do. We deal with all areas of the city we work out of the Lenfest Center in Hunting Park and we have after school programs there.”
One of the organization’s prime sponsors is Wells Fargo Bank. Aldustus Jordan the Senior Vice President of Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations looks forward to working with Dr. Dele as she expands the program throughout the US. “As The Made Man expands its brand and presence into different markets where we have a Wells Fargo presence, we’re looking to invest and support this initiative. This is our second year in Philadelphia. We are also going to be supporting later this year in D.C. and Charlotte and early next year in New York City. We’re hopeful this is a long term relationship; the purpose of The Made Man is to change the image, to show the positive image of Black men doing great things, being good fathers, care givers, care takers and successful and two transform the next generation of leaders. It’s not just about supporting and lifting up the men that are already successful, it’s about those men leveraging their success to lift up the next generation of leaders. We’re happy to be here tonight but more importantly we want to do the work tomorrow and the day after that to make sure we follow up on this momentum.”
From Philadelphia the tour heads to Charlotte North Carolina on November 29th. For a complete itinerary, lists of this year’s Philadelphia honorees or more information about The Made Men programs go to https://www.themademan.org
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