Youth V.I.B.E. (Vision. Industry. Business. Empowerment.) foundation founder and CEO Waleed Shamsid-Deen boasts many success stories of molding and cultivating youth into becoming leaders, business-minded people and especially entrepreneurs during the 20 years of the program. Brian Reynolds is just one of those many standouts. After going through the program during his senior year in a DeKalb County high school, “the entrepreneurial spirit bit him, and he decided to go oversees to China and staying for a few years and getting a degree in Mandarin.”
But remarkable story doesn’t end there. Reynolds, who now speaks fluent Chinese, started an international business where he bring students from oversees to America for post-secondary education, with the whole emphasis being like cultural exchange. Before that, Shamsid-Deen said, Reynolds was importing hair from oversees before he found his life’s calling, his raison d’etre, with education where he is now doing camps with thousands of Chinese students, and he started a blog and has a vast following in both the U.S. and China.
Stories like Reyonolds, who now lives in California, might not have been had it not been for Shamsid-Deen’s Youth V.I.B.E. This is one of the reasons why Shamsid-Deen is celebrating with the 20th year anniversary gala on Sunday, June 5.
The idea for such a foundation began during the historic Atlanta Olympics in 1996. His Supreme Fish Delight had the opportunity to partner with Aramark Corporation to run 11 locations and 14 portable stands for the Olympic Trials, Olympics and Paralympics. Shamsid-Deen, Youth V.I.B.E.’s founder, was to recruit, hire, and train staff to run all 25 venue sites. Shamsid-Deen “realized that most of (the youth) lacked the necessary skills to be competitive – from things like resume writing, interviewing skills and basic work ethic,” he surmised somberly.
After the Olympics, Shamsid-Deen and his team decided to start an organization called the South DeKalb Business Association Youth Mentoring Program. A year later, they changed the name to Youth V.I.B.E. and incorporated as a 501(c)3 and “began mentoring programs for youth around business, entrepreneurship, mentoring and tutoring,” progressing into a full after-school mentoring program, working with about 105 kids in three schools in South DeKalb County each year.
“Over the years, we have expanded into food services. We did summer camps and provided food for low income kids. We do tours of big and small businesses. We do enrichment and academic programs, boasting some powerful backers, partners, sponsors and grant benefactors, including the Georgia Department of Human Services, United Way, Department of Education 21st Century and DeKalb County.
For the 20th anniversary gala, “we wanted to do a big gala, and it’s two tier: one, for celebrating and being around to provide free services for kids for 20 years; and two, to say thanks for our sponsors, our partners, our volunteers and our staff for 20 years. And also for the students, not just the ones who are in the program, but also for the ones who have graduated and gone on to do amazing things in life,” Shamsid-Deen.
Each year, the Staff of 35 serving about 100 kids in South DeKalb County, overseen by a board of 11 people and augmented by about 20 volunteers.
“We’re teaching students about being leaders, about being entreprepreneurs and we’re providing enrichment. And then we expose them. How many kids can say they’ve been to the state capital, seen the general assembly and met their representatives? Or have tour the APEX Museum or Coca-Cola, CNN, and the Apple Store and Microsoft store at Lenox Mall?” Shamsid-Deen asked rhetorically. He said he always asks to speak with the the manager and/or the owner of corporations so they talk to the students about how they operate as a business.
“Our business statement is to empower tomorrow’s leaders and our mission is to expose them to the skills and experiences and that teach and encourage leadership,” Shamsid-Deen said.
The New York-born Shamsid-Deen comes to the table with a plethora of educational and business expertise. He graduated with a B.S. in Business Economics at Florida A&M University and received an M.B.A. from Walden University. He is the owner/operator two restaurant chains — Supreme Fried Fish and now Supreme Burger – that have franchises in the U.S. and soon, Africa. He is also the Managing Partner with ARE, Inc., an angel investment firm founded by former NBA star and Atlanta Hawk Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
Shamsid-Deen, the author of Excellence at a Minimum (http://excellencethebook.com) was also the co-executive producer the hugely successful reality show, “Being Bobby Brown” and producer of Drumline Live™, a mini-documentary about Florida A&M’s famous Marching 100 Drumline.
He pours all of those varied experiences and expertise into the Youth V.I.B.E. three main programs:
- After School Program: Assistance with academics; introduce teens to entrepreneurship and business; and, help students become more socially and culturally aware
- Food Service Program; Since 2011, the program has served more than 90,000 Halal meals. It received a 5-year contract for services from the Mohammed Schools of Atlanta to provide the USDA National School Lunch Program
- iVibe Computer Skills Training:Provides training in basic and advanced computer skills
This Sunday, Shamsid-Deen and hundreds of others are going to celebrate the 20 years on, June 5th 2016, 963 Edgewood Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
To attend, RSVP: Adeidra@YouthVIBE.org
Shamsid-Deen said his goal “is to raise $100,000 between the gala, the silent auction and other things that we have going on.”
For more information, log onto: http://www.youthvibe.org