Mentorship in any community, but especially the African-American community, is essential for successful development. Considering the obstacles that are placed in the paths of African-American children, it seems so easy for them to make one minor mistake that can alter their life before they get a chance to forge their path.
That’s predominantly why Grand Gentlemen came to fruition in 2014. Founder Korey Eakers came up with this vision nearly a decade ago and capitalized on it a few years later, with mentorship as his primary focus.
“Having a good mentor is essential,” said Eakers. “These young men in our community want to achieve as much as possible and live successful lives. Sometimes they just need encouragement, a plan, and resources. No one in our organization is perfect; that’s not what being a Gentleman is about. It’s about being better than you were the day before and helping young men avoid the mistakes we’ve made.”
Grand Gents mentors through community involvement, drawing the interest of young men through the lifestyle and fashion they portray publicly. The goal is to show that you can be progressive, intellectual, imaginative, radical, or simply your authentic self without having to be apologetic about it. As long as you stand for something, or have a positive goal in mind, you’re headed down a promising path … and you can exude who you are through your fashion or personal brand.
Their main avenue for helping young men around the Oklahoma City metro is through the Man of the Year scholarship, where they grant a handful of African-American men graduating from high school a scholarship to apply toward their post-educational aspirations. In this program, the students are gifted a custom suit from the Wardrobe Modern Menswear and bowties from Ronald D. Jordan II and his company Knotted Bowties.
Being driven, intelligent, and determined to do something positive with your life makes for a powerful individual, especially when combined with being well-dressed. That’s the lifestyle the Grand Gentlemen like to portray, and that’s the message they convey to their mentees.
Through the social pressures of media, film, and music, the justice system, and life as a whole, it’s so easy for a young Black man to hit an obstacle, and the way our society is set up, that obstacle may break a young kid’s passion. Also, when Black kids face too much adversity or don’t see progressive individuals like themselves, they often think their wildest dreams are nearly impossible.
Grand Gentlemen’s ultimate goal is to shift that ideology. They’ll continue doing so one scholarship, photoshoot, community event, and suit drive at a time.
The Grand Gentlemen offer mentorship to young African-American men of all ages, and their Man of the Year scholarship is eligible to high school seniors, preferably from inner-city Oklahoma City schools. However, exceptions are made depending on the application. To donate to the scholarship, please visit grandgentlemen.com/scholarship/.