Gary Hicks Sr.
Why I started YMG?
I started this organization because I saw that there was a need and knew that I had to be the change that I wanted to see.
As an educator I witnessed the profound impact that the lack of strong black male role models was having in the lives of our Young Men.
As a father myself I know the work, patience, and the pliability it requires to teach our young black men how to become the best version of themselves. This is especially important during a time where “the culture” has the biggest influence.
The disparate impact that we’ve seen throughout the generations still resides, and the goal is to teach them how to rise above the negative stereotypes, and learn what it means to BELIEVE in themselves, educate themselves, demonstrate good character and plenty of resolve.
Our mission is to teach our Young Men how to be comprehensive in their journey through life so rather than survive, they thrive. Edwin Lewis Cole once quoted “maturity does not begin with age but with the acceptance of responsibility.” This mere statement shaped a lot of my younger years and this is what our pillars of principals have reflected. Accepting responsibility is the first step to many wins!
YMG is an organization that BELIEVES in the future of our Young Men, and our mission is for them to know it and succeed because of it! WE BELIEVE. Salute.
Favorite Quote: “Our Actions Follow Our Beliefs.”
Why I Started YMG?
As an Educator and a parent, you have a unique perspective on the needs of children and young adults. In 2017, with the help of my colleague, Gary Hicks Sr., we started Young Men Growing to address some of the specific needs we see with our young Black men. Fatherlessness in the black community is a struggle we face daily, which has direct ties to financial instability, high school drop out rates, and rises in crime.
We combat these community struggles with financial literacy curriculum, leadership development, and social emotional awareness, to prepare our youth for successful futures as Men.
Guidance and support are essential to success. YMG allows us to reach as many young men as possible, and provide valuable experience and cultural enrichment to allow our young men to thrive.
Throughout my professional Journey, I have had many aspirations, however having the opportunity to start an organization like Young Men Growing has truly shown me where my passion lies, and what I feel I am meant to do.
Favorite Quote: "Reputation is for time; character is for eternity." -J.B. Gough
Mr. Gillespie is the Regional President of ERIEBANK, a subsidiary of CNB Bank. Wesley is responsible for the expansion of the bank into the Cleveland market, as well as lead the growth efforts of the Northeast region for ERIEBANK.
Wesley resides in Twinsburg with his wife Desiree and their daughter Selena, and attend New Community Bible Fellowship Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Brittany Dangerfield-Mathis has a background Early Childhood education as a Graduate of Cleveland State Universities Education Department. She is also a certified Birth Doula through DONA International, and Founder of Birthing with Brit Doula Services. Brittany is a Wife, stay at home mother of three and an avid fitness enthusiast.
Brittany has been a vital part of Young Men Growing and its growth and vision from our start in 2017, offering insights into parent/student relationships, partnerships and funding.
“Life is series of relationships, whether it's a relationship with a thought or idea, a material good, an identity or another person, in order to maximize that relationships potential you must be Intentional and transparent..”
From being a professional athlete, youth program instructor, personal trainer, educator etc.. I have always flourished in these interpersonal relationship spaces. I’ve always possessed the ability of “connection” and providing a space to others where they are comfortable being their authentic selves. Identifying and offering different perspectives that are in service to them and their well being.
Jamie Renee, a Pittsburgh native is a singer, songwriter, author, and the founder of The Jamie Renee Project, a ministry that uplifts, encourages, and teaches women how to see the beauty in their story as adoptees.
Experienced with over 20 years in the banking industry, Jamie has spent most of her career servicing the local communities with their banking and mortgage needs, specifically Low to Moderate Income through Community Reinvestment initiatives.
Currently a part of the Underwriting Team at Third Federal Savings and Loan, Jamie has also devoted hours to Community Development and Outreach through their Home Today- Home Buying Classes. Throughout her career, she developed an extreme passion to teach Financial Literacy, Home Buying Information, and Credit Repair to both adults and High School students.
Ultimately this leads to a partnership with YMG to co-write and lead the Financial Literacy component of the program. Incorporating her passion for writing, and in-depth knowledge of how money and how credit works, she has taken the initiative to teach the next generation about money as more of a mission and purpose rather than just a task. Jamie holds a BA Degree in Public Relations and Marketing from the California University of PA, where she met and married her college sweetheart. The two reside in a Cleveland suburb with their two children.
Arianne Thomas is an Assistant Principal in Shaker Heights School District. Before this she served as the Director of the Aspire Program and the Fellowships in Equity and Action at Hathaway Brown School. Arianne also taught middle school English Language Arts in Tulsa Public Schools and Cleveland Public Schools. Arianne earned a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Columbia University in New York, with a focus on public school education.