We started to promote our local non-profit organizations, we definitely concluded that’s the right way to go! As they mostly have a really tough working path, informing people about their existence, work and contribution to society is an excellent start for helping them.
In this interview, we would like to present you Boy With a Ball, a faith-based international youth, family and community development organization. Read about their motivation, mission, goals, and after all, find out what they exactly do.
To begin with, we would like you to briefly tell us about your organization
Gwinnett County continues to grow in population and diversity and to face the strengths and challenges created by these dynamic forces. So it is great news that Boy With a Ball (www.boywithaball.com), a faith-based international youth, family and community development organization operating in seven cities in five countries relocated their headquarters to Gwinnett County in the last five years in the hope of building a flagship model of their work and global training center here. This organization, working in Africa, Latin America and three US cities, has consultative status with the United Nations and presented at the World Bank in 2016. They are launching their Velocity Dropout Prevention Cross-Age Mentoring Program in area schools and their Love Your City Community Development Program in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Boy With a Ball will be a key part to our growing tapestry of stakeholders working together in Gwinnett to make our county the best place in the US to raise children and, as a result, the best place in the world to locate your business.
- What do you do exactly?
And what was the reason that encouraged you to start this organization?
High impact youth developers are working in every neighborhood, in every city, across the world. Unfortunately, they are these are negative youth developers: Pedophiles, predators, drug dealers, gang leaders, dead-beat dads, and promiscuous 15-year-olds are working 24 hours/7 days a week to reach young people. Their damaging actions are shaping the next generations of our communities. Meanwhile, the good guys are meeting for four hours to decide whether to purchase a popcorn maker for their church youth group. This ratio of the bad guys impacting so many youths, so constantly while the good guys barely ever walk outside of their walls must be changed if our cities have any hope of positive futures. Boy With a Ball exists to reverse this ratio. Boy With a Ball was founded in San Antonio, Texas in 2001 to fill a void in local youth programs, in the pursuit of developing scalable solutions. BWAB’s innovative team-based approach trains and releases large numbers of motivated volunteers into some of our cities’ toughest neighborhoods. The power of presence, long-haul commitment and our willingness to learn from those we seek to serve has born lasting fruit. This grassroots method has now been successfully replicated across the U.S., in Latin America, and in Africa. Entire slums are becoming centers of change and development. Young people who used to be seen as victims have become leaders.
- What motivates you? Describe your mission passion
Boy With a Ball believes that, currently, young people are being damaged more than they are being developed. We believe that every young person is created by God with giftings and talents to fulfill their God-given purpose and potential and that, if they do so, they will lift our cities to become flourishing communities filled with thriving families and neighborhoods. We will not stop until every young person across the world has been offered the chance to know they are loved and to reach their dreams.
- Tell us about your goals
Boy With a Ball relocated our headquarters to Gwinnett County in 2013 in the hope of building a flagship model of our work and a global training center here. We are launching our Velocity Dropout Prevention Cross-Age Mentoring Program in area schools and our Love Your City Community Development Program in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. We hope to scale the Velocity program into multiple schools and the Love Your City program into multiple neighborhoods in Gwinnett in the next three years. Founder and Executive Director Jamie Johnson is currently working to build relationships with local business leaders with one of his aims being to develop a local board of directors for the organization.
- What was the hardest/toughest moment you had to deal with?
Obstacles you faced when dealing with bureaucracy, permits, funding, etc. Something you would like to point out to anyone who might be starting their own organization.
In 2009, drug dealers in a community we were working input a contract out on our lives. Our work to help youth finish school and find good jobs had been so effective that the dealers were losing their entire clientele. We took this frightening situation as the best evidence we had ever had of the profound impact of our work. When bad guys lose their jobs because young people will no longer make the high-risk choices to follow them, we know we are winning.
- What was the most fulfilling moment that happened to you?
That same year, in 2009, we realized that the economically disadvantaged community we were working in had, in just five years, see 40% of the residents emerge out of poverty and out into middle-class neighborhoods. The average level of education had risen from a third to a sixth-grade level. Gangs had been eliminated and, in a community where no one had ever graduated from high school when we first arrived, a pipeline of scores of students was now not only graduating but being scholarshiped by the Western Union Foundation to go to college and then get jobs with the Western Union as junior executives. The US State Department came in and began to fund our work scaling across the country. We could walk through the neighborhood and see family after family, household after household rising and reaching their dreams with tears of joy in their eyes. We want to see this happen here in Gwinnett County!
- What separates you from the rest? Why you?
While most programs for youth focus on either attracting young people to a site or providing only a few hours of mentoring a month, diminishing their impact and funneling their dollars into a dead end, Boy With a Ball is different for three reasons. First, we transform communities by equipping and unleashing the young people within them. We mobilize young people themselves to be a force that can turn and transform their own communities, turning their extra time into an opportunity to engage them in impactful work. Second, rather than waiting for youth to come to us, we mobilized a grassroots force of volunteers to head out into the hardest to reach neighborhoods within our communities. We walk in and we stay demonstrating that these people are not alone and that there is hope. Finally, we harness the power of human relationships, utilizing tools such as relationship-building community walkthroughs, relationships-based life-on-life mentoring and relationship-centered small groups to see lives transformed. This is both awesomely powerful and incredibly low cost, two keys to creating change that can grow and transform entire communities.
- Do you have any upcoming events in the forthcoming months?
December 16 we will have a Christmas Festival in the Norcross apartments where we do our Love Your City Community Development Program.
- What is it that you love most about what you do?
We love people and particularly young people and their families. We are powerfully motivated by the inspirational stories we watch each day occurring through the work we do. We are also awestruck by watching entire communities emerge out of poverty and into healthy, fruitful lives.
- What is the biggest challenge you’re faced with today?
Founder and Executive Director Jamie Johnson is currently working to build relationships with local business leaders with one of his aims being to develop a local board of directors for the organization. We are working to build partnerships with local businesses and business leaders to help us accomplish our important work.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Contact: How can people reach out to you?
Your organization’s name, phone, address, e-mail and links to your website and social media
Boy With a Ball
PO Box 748, Buford, GA 30515