Next Stop: MAN UP Explores Morris Brown College, The World Of Tech & Franchises In Atlanta


ATLANTA, GA. – This three-part series will chronicle MAN UP Male Mentees 3-day trip to Atlanta, GA to attend an Entrepreneurship Forum hosted exclusively for them by Ryan Willson, Co-founder and CEO of The Gathering Spot.

In a time when Blacks weren’t permitted to get an education at white institutions, the creation of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) began to spring up across the nation.

It was in 1929, when the Atlanta University Center became home to the world’s oldest and largest consortium of HBCU’s, including, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College, Morris Brown College, and the Interdenominational Theological Center. Ninety-five years later, these historically Black institutions continue to thrive and educate the brilliant young minds of tomorrow.

Last fall, MAN UP mentees visited the well-known Morris Brown College campus and got a bird’s eye view into their legacy of educating African American students from all across the globe. Founded in 1881, it’s the first higher education institution owned and operated by African Americans.

During their student-led campus tour, the mentees learned about the various degrees offered, the rich history, and explored their new Esports Lab, the first of its kind at an HBCU. Although 83% of African American millennials play video games, only two percent of them work in the gaming industry.

“Until this point, I never saw myself going to college, it has always seemed a bit overwhelming to me and far fetch but after touring the campus, learning the history, visiting the Esports Lab, seeing how the students get along, and the family atmosphere, I left there feeling inspired to come back. For the first time I can actually see myself being able to thrive in college,” said Malachi, an 18-year-old mentee of MAN UP.

After wrapping up their tour at Morris Brown, the mentees headed over to Brain Rain Solutions (BRS), a tech firm that specializes in the development of augment reality technologies.  The young men were privileged to take a sneak peek inside Atlanta’s growing Black tech community.

Travis and Troy Nunnally, known as the Tech Twins and BRS Founders, gave the mentees a tour and introduced them to the world of artificial intelligence. The students were exposed to cutting-edge technologies developed by the firm and even got a chance to experience them firsthand.

Troy shared that he was very impressed with the inquisitive nature and questions from the young men. “I wanted them to take away a sense of possibility and the understanding that their current circumstances don’t define their future potential,” the Atlanta native explained. “I hoped to show them that with hard work and determination, they too can create opportunities for themselves.”

Travis also shared, “I hope they left feeling inspired and equipped with the knowledge that they can achieve incredible things through learning, persistence, and curiosity.”

During their discussions, the mentees showed great interest in entrepreneurship and what it takes to be successful including the necessary steps to start their business and tech projects. “They had a strong interest in how the technologies we develop are directly relevant to their lives. For example, they were curious about how our AI that counts workout reps could help them become better athletes,” Travis said.

Sports plays a big role in the lives of many young men and the mentees are no different. While visiting Atlanta, they played basketball with a group of business professionals and had meaningful conversations with high-ranking athletes turned franchisees. From each interaction, there were nuggets of wisdom that, if followed, can make a huge difference in their lives.

After being introduced to the young men at The Gathering Spot Atlanta the day before, Account executive, Rashad Williams, invited the young men to a basketball court along with some of his friends to impart insight on making better life decisions. “When it comes to your attitude and how you operate on the court, a lot of that correlates to how you are in the world,” he explains. “Those same skills convert into how you can handle business and how you handle yourself personally.”

A consistent theme woven throughout the trip was reminding the mentees to make decisions that will increase opportunities for them and lead them away from a life that hinders growth. One conversation with a former college football player drove the point home as he shared his story of trouble and eventual triumph.

After playing defensive end at El Camino College in California, Jabari Mathieu traded in his professional sports dreams to become a teacher and franchise owner. His road to success was not traditional but with hard work, focus and dedication, he’s built a life where he owns his own business which gives him time to share his story with young men who remind him of himself as a youth.

Their conversation varied between speaking about life, business, his time on the streets of California and how he redeemed himself. “I was doing good but ended up going to jail and juvenile hall,” he explains. “I’m going to keep it real: my friend went to jail for 10 years and another friend died in an accident. I still have homies in jail, but you have to make your own decisions.”

The mentees asked about his business, leading him to explain the difference between a franchise and entrepreneurship. Sharing his story of dropping out of high school, losing friends to the streets of California, and then pulling himself up to become the successful businessman he is today, was eye-opening for the mentees.

Each discussion and meeting poured more insight on living and building a life of success and security.  In such a short time, the strangers they encountered became mentors and made an indelible impact on the lives of each mentee.

ABOUT MAN UP Mentoring, Inc.: MANUP Mentoring, Inc. is community-based non-profit 501c (3) charity organization primarily serving at-risk youth ages 11 through completion of high school or the equivalent across Metro Orlando, with a focus on delinquency prevention and intervention by providing social, educational, and mentoring services. Established in 2014 by Orlando natives, brother and sister duo Christopher and Samantha Wallace. Currently, it is managed by an Executive Director, contractors and a full-time staff of volunteers. It is overseen by a Board of Directors with more than 150 years of law enforcement and civilian experience, as well as advisors from the Orange County Public School System and social services.