Category Archives: Success Formulas

Success Formula: LeAlan M. Jones

Articulate, visionary, ambitious and committed are the words that came to mind when I heard Mr. LeAlan Jones speak to my group of High School students during the summer of 2012. Mr. Jones challenged my students to hold themselves accountable for their actions by thinking about their daily activities and habits, and in particular the economic impact of their generations’ behavior. LeAlan told my students that popular culture has led them to “benchmark their lives against a notion that everything is based on here and now instead of preparing for their come up.” My students enjoyed the talk very much and continued discussions on the topic of economics and popular culture all the way back to Champaign.

It was not until after my students approved of his message that I became determined to learn more about this young trailblazer touting about the United States Green Party. See, I was not prepared when I heard him speak; I was not aware of his testimony and his achievements. I still don’t think it has hit me, the accomplishments of LeAlan Jones, a 33-year-old Black male from Chicago with credits that include reporting for the National Public Radio (NPR) at the age of 13, youngest recipient of the George Foster Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Grand Prize and an author of a book that is listed on Freshmen reading lists throughout the state of Illinois. Yep…I had to know more about the How’s and Why’s of his life. Following our interview I now have more insight on the young Green party candidate that is fighting for his place in the Chicago second congressional district race. More importantly, on a daily basis he is fighting for us, those with more to come.

Story Corps GriotAt 13 LeAlan envisioned that he would be the voice of reason for socio and economic development for his generation. LeAlan implements change with the intent of mending a community whole. Community development should inspire and protect people while harnessing their abilities says LeAlan. Both positive and negative aspects of the community have led to Mr. Jones’ growing achievements. His surroundings are the backdrop for his literary projects and it is what propels his desire to engage politically.

During the interview LeAlan shared that his support system is his mother, whom he developed a relationship with in spite of being a ward of the state. LeAlan’s philosophy on how to discuss healing in suffering communities reflects his values for family and women. LeAlan says: “The women of the community need reinforcements. The men are so marginalized and their participation is not expected in the development of kids. We have to get mothers strong enough. Allowing women to define their roles and giving them the skill set to implement their roles personally, etc. Communities benefit when families are healthy and together.” This framework of addressing our community needs is relevant, in particular in the Chicagoland area due to skyrocketing crime rates and upcoming school closings that are sure to challenge the city’s ability to plan for crisis. Mothers/grandmothers, women in general will bear a great burden…..

Off my soap box and back to LeAlan Jones, todays Success Formula…..I asked Mr. LeAlan Jones to be part of my Success Formula series because he motivates me to not only think outside of the box but act in the same grain of courage. LeAlans simplicity reminds me that everything does not have to be complicated but that with consistency the path becomes clear, and most importantly, LeAlan reminds me that there is usually a sacrifice in service…and if there is no sacrifice it may not have been true service.

LeAlan_promoLeAlan Jones’s Success Formula=Patience + Commitment + Economic and Environmental Development

S.M.A.R.T. goal

To bring the green party traction as big as the Democratic Party in Chicago on April 9 by getting more votes than the republican candidate that is running for the 2nd congressional seat. If achieved this will be the first time in the United States history.

Facebook: Friends of LeAlan M. Jones


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365 Girls Rock Foundation: Community Asset and Success Formula

No one can argue against the need for meaningful programming geared toward positively impacting youth. The number of youth programs and initiatives that sprout up on an annual basis makes it difficult for each organization to stand out, but the women of 365 Girls Rock Foundation are quickly making headway with their persistent marketing efforts and quality programming.

365 Girls Rock Foundation is an organization spun from the book 365 Girl: Daily Affirmation’s. 365’s mission is to empower young ladies 365 days a year. Ultimately 365 looks to redirect adolescent behavior so that the sacredness of femininity and the moral compass of womanhood can be recaptured for our children, and our children’s children. The founder, Tracey Sydnor has teamed up with some very talented and dedicated women to ensure the sustainability of 365. The leadership team of 365 as pictured below is Tia Hawkins, Tracey Hawkins-Sydnor, and Michele Taylor.

365 Girls Team

Tracey has been working with youth for years but decided to go to the next level with 365 after observing many negative trends regarding young girls disregard for social media etiquette, carless attitude toward respect, and lack of desire to be great. 365 Girl serves as a motivational read for young girls that include affirmations and other inspirational words created to provide guidance for youth. Each chapter has a different theme such as social motivation, physical fitness, educational attainment, and sexual awareness as well as a chapter on how to deal with pain. Tracey’s background in the military provides her with the unique experience and exposure to model resilience, adaptation, and strength in spite of challenges.

The leadership of 365 has been conducting workshops across the nation based on the tenets of the book. 365 has expanded to include 365 Girl World (weekly radio show), 365 Girl Prayer Conference (prayer call twice a month), a city-wide pajama conference (12 hour action packed night of fun, empowerment, and motivation), an upcoming dress drive, and more. The weekly radio show hosts are Tia Hawkins (College Girl) Michele Taylor (The advocate) Shayla Courtney (The Heiress) and Tracey Sydnor (Ultimate 365 Girl).

The organization is in need of volunteers in the areas of photography, computer expertise, sound engineering, cosmetology, and teaching. Volunteers can assist with upcoming workshops across the nation as well as helping with hands-on tasks including collecting and wrapping dresses for girls ages 10-18. Next year the pajama girl conference will be expanding to 4 cities including Grand Rapids, MI, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, CA and Chicago, IL- which will be a great opportunity for girls and volunteers everywhere to become involved.

Girls become involved in 365 on a first come first serve basis. Any girl who wants to take part in a 365 event can pre-register on Facebook, twitter, email, or any other outlet they can imagine.  At times people are hesitant and curious about 365’s free opportunities but Tracey states that once parents and guardians visit their social media sites or get to know the leadership, they are more inclined to sign-up their young girls. Present and greeting parents during check-in and check-out, Tracey and Michele help to increase parents trust and willingness to enroll their most prized possession in 365 events. Mt. Carmel M.B. Church family has also shown a lot of support to 365 by providing male volunteers as security for events that require such. Off duty police officers from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) also volunteer!

365 reaches out to community’s that lack resources and local opportunities. During the first year, Michele and Tracey completed door to door marketing in CHA’s Dearborn Holmes Housing as well as schools in the same neighborhood. Fliers are also shared with local churches, restaurants, and salons, where parents of adolescents would frequent. 365 networks effectively through social media, college alumni networks, and church affiliations. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Tracey has been able to garner support from Greek lettered organizations as well. Other organizations that 365 supports and receives support from include Joshua Mercer and Swish Dreams Educational & Sports Foundation for “Swish Girls”, Barbara Ellzey and R.E.A.C.H., Jennifer Reid and SHERO, Phoenix Owens and S.I.S.T.E.R.S. Inc., and Christine Hansberry/Pamela Linton with S.M.I.L.E (King College Preparatory HS) just to name a few.

Through strategic partnerships and alliances with public and charter schools, 365 will expand on their academic focus. Collaborations with the Chicago Defender Newspaper and other local businesses between Chicago, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles has increased the visibility of 365 tremendously.

I am excited about the progress and future of 365 Girls Rock Foundation. From the sidelines, I have been able to witness the commitment and enthusiasm of the 365 leadership team. I am impressed and support their organization 365 days a year. To learn more about 365, check out the links below.


Twitter: @365GirlWorld




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Success Formula: Dr. Chandra Gill

You can learn a lot about a person by becoming familiar with their reputation. Dr. Chandra Gill’s testimonials on her website and in her book “Champions Break Chains”, is the evidence that supports the impact she has made on the lives of people across the United States in her efforts to Motivate to Educate.” Dr. Gill holds a Ph.D from the University of Illinois in Educational Policy Studies where she focused on the absence of minority and youth voice in academia as it relates to the educational settings and needs of students of color. Dr. Gill is one of the most prevalent leaders currently rallying for educational change.

Although I never know what to expect from my interviewees, I am always eager for the knowledge each Success Formula has to share. My interview with Dr. Gill is important for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because I know that she overcame a struggle few with freedom can freely discuss. Every year a criminal amount of African-Americans become entangled in the justice system. Years ago while working toward her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Gill became a victim of the system as well.

During a field trip with students to an intense basketball game between two local high school rivalries, Gill’s co-chaperone was put in handcuffs by a plain clothes police officer after a game changing play. The events that followed included Dr. Gill having a seizure in which officers mistook for an attack. Although captured on film, Dr. Gill was still arrested and charged for assaulting an officer of the law. Despite the trauma of becoming a “Ph.D. felon”, Dr. Gill has never ceased or staggered in her commitment to bring equality to the educational system in which our youth and families rely on to improve their quality of life.

A recipient of the inaugural Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, Dr. Gill has relentlessly engaged in dialogue and outreach that encourages access to education for minorities. Going a step further Dr. Gill founded Blackademically Speaking Enterprises, a company that focuses on understanding cultural barriers that prevent young people from being motivated to learn. A short list of what Dr. Gill and Blackademically Speaking are doing to affect community development include weekly talks in Woodlawn at St. John Temple on Monday nights as well as regular speaking engagements and workshops throughout the United States to educators, parents, and students that focus on overcoming obstacles to academic attainment. Most recently Blackademically Speaking coordinated a celebratory field trip for some of Chicago’s excelling high school scholars. Dr. Gill’s message always encourages “going back to give back”, which is one of the reasons Blackademically Speaking was born, and will be raised in her home community, Woodlawn (Chicago).

Chicago's top high school students

Dr. Gill is committed to educating young people in a way that is unmatched by many others that make the same claim. She has been taking on responsibility that shifts the blame of what is happening to children who are victims of a failed educational system. “We must deal with challenges in our community once they have been identified”, says Dr.Gill. Her courage to act as a community agent stems from growing up in a two parent household with parents that instilled in her the importance of understanding what one could be versus who they are. For example, driving through his old neighborhood on the west side, Dr. Gill’s father would point out people that fell victim to drugs and violence despite their leadership and notoriety as youth.

Dr. Gill’s parents did not shy away from voicing their opinion about community happenings. As an investor and stakeholder of their community, each of her parents knew they had a right to voice their opinions and solutions about their neighborhood, but always focusing on developing their first community- home. When Dr. Gill and her brother would receive new clothes or shoes, her parents would say “if we see you bragging to others about what you have, we will take it from you”. Today, Dr. Gill is happy about her achievements, but never compares her blessings to others.

It is always important to understand how Success Formula’s multi-achieve. Dr. Gill plans and seeks counsel through scriptures and the Holy Bible. “I am growing up in God and learning balance by listening to the Holy Spirit. For Blackademically Speaking this means I have to learn to say ‘No….. I can’t do everything’.” And on a more practical note Dr. Gill hired an administrative assistant in order to be 100% effective. Meditation and surrounding herself with individuals that understand the vision of Blackademically Speaking are also important factors that allow Dr. Gill to maintain her mental health during this journey.

When I asked her to share with me a community asset that she feels is a hidden gem, Dr. Gill quickly replied, “children are a community asset that have been written off; they are the gems God blessed us with.”

These moments are why I do this – to be reminded of things society and time would so easily have us forget.

I doubt that my interview has done justice to the road map that Dr. Chandra Gill is creating. What I can tell you is that her passion, dedication, and resourcefulness are aspects of success that I hope to emulate in all of my commitments.

Dr. Chandra Gill’s Success Formula= Motivate to Educate + Family first + Guided by the Holy Spirit+ Culturally relevant academia

More Dr. Chandra Gill

What allows you to wear your greatness?

“I’m trying to not spend a lot of time wasting my time.” Dr. Gill’s spare time is spent with family, learning family history and embracing family as her first community. Recently Dr. Gill learned that she was not the first of her family to go to college. This was discovered after exploring more about her family tree, thus showing the importance of connecting and engaging with family.

What is your idea of community development?

“Community development must include the future! The future is the young people. Although the elders voice is important because it started with their gifts and ingenuity, we must transition leadership to youth 15-20 years old. Community development should be a fluid discussion and plan that includes educational values, economic empowerment, sustainability, and spiritual aspects.”

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

January kick off for Blackademically Speaking 2012 initiatives to include students at all grade levels being active participants in community efforts to “Motivate to Educate.


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Success Formula: Felicia Simpson

If you do not have a Felicia on your team, you need one.

Felicia Simpson is a mother, a friend, a full-time employee at a social service agency, and most recently, she is the Founder and Executive Director of A New Me Foundation (ANMF), an organization that provides comprehensive family services for victims and survivors of domestic violence. As a progressive organization, ANMF focuses on the entire family unit to end the cycle of domestic violence that may easily continue when initiatives solely focus on women as victims.

Over the past 6 months I have had the opportunity to work up close and personal with Felicia, one of the most tenacious and dedicated people I have ever met. On a mission to uproot domestic violence, Felicia has devoted the rest her life (time, resources, energy, conversations, actions, and goals) to “breaking the silence” that leads individuals, families, and communities, to suffer a variety of ills. Having initially formed a business relationship, I have grown to admire Felicia and her relentless pursuit of advocacy as it relates to her passions.

Felicia’s networking abilities impress me most. Not only does she make connections with people and organizations from various backgrounds, she finds a way to connect others interest with what she holds near and dear to her heart. This is a skill that many may take for granted, but that through observation, I have watched Felicia and her organization, A New Me Foundation, begin the marathon of a lifetime.

You will never hear Felicia boast, but instead she will factually explain to you that she has been fortunate enough “to have access to minorities in the community whose issues or causes go unnoticed. I refer people and organizations to places with large and small client intake….people gravitate to me as a resource.” Claiming the victory that has already been given to her, Felicia has mentally and emotionally prepared for the uphill battle that comes along with sacrifice and hard work.

When entering a project, partnership, or community, Felicia does the necessary background research that is sure to guarantee the longevity of her platform and life blueprint. I respect that Felicia knows enough about her strengths and weaknesses to decipher when she needs help and when she is the best person for the job. Admittedly she has exceptional multi-tasking skills, reputable work ethic, offers culturally appropriate/relevant options in all that she does, and completes tasks in and orderly and effective manner. As an advocate for domestic violence Felicia says that “it goes beyond day-to-day operations, I go in the trenches and cross all borders”.

Advocacy work and founding an organization with big goals requires strength strategies that keep you focused when the situation seems hopeless. Felicia uses a vision board to stay on track and professes that her plan is bigger than the American Dream. During the launch of ANMF Felicia had to assess all the challenges that would hinder her organization from living up to its purpose. During her first event at a church, when she did not reach her target number of attendees she realized that a church atmosphere may have been an obstacle for her target population.

Her advice for success during a start-up endeavor includes writing down your goals, target dates, and being as specific as possible (i.e. listing resources, locations, etc.). “I have folders for each event and follow-up with networking leads because you never know who knows the person you need to know.” Community assets that she encourages include churches, local businesses, bartering, block clubs, and getting to know your aldermen/ local representative.

With ease, Felicia fluidly transitions crowds and spaces. I have learned more from Felicia about commitment and sacrifice than I have from high-powered CEOs. I am certain that Felicia is a legacy in the making and I am happy to have played a role in the encouragement and action steps that will one day lead to the ANMF Vision:

A New Me Foundation will be the leading model of culturally appropriate, comprehensive services and supports for victims and survivors of domestic violence primarily in the Chicagoland area and abroad.

Felicia is the type of person that you need on your team; she is sure to keep you grounded, laughing, and inspired.

Felicia Simpson’s Success Formula= Tenacity + Advocacy + Organization + Self Awareness

More On Felicia Simpson

SMART goal= Provide direct services that eliminate the need for shelters for victims and survivors of domestic violence (decreased statistics within 3 years)

What is Community Development?- Bringing together stakeholders and residents to develop and create resources that help the community

Upcoming ANMF Events:

September 13, 2011 at 5:30pm ANMF will be participating in the Walk the Course event for domestic violence awareness at the Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (Lemont, IL)
September 24, 2011 at 7pm ANMF will be hosting a “Movie Night” Social
October 3, 2011 at noon ANMF will be honoring the kick off of Domestic Violence Awareness Month at the annual rally at the Thompson Center (downtown)
October 6, 2011 ANMF will be attending a “Pour” for Connections for Abused Women and Their Children event held at the Grossinger City Autoplex
October 8, 2011 Felicia will be a panelist at Lucid Life Works & the Red Pump Project’s open forum, geared towards Chicago’s inner-city young adults, surrounding the topic of AIDS and HIV.  Felicia will be answering questions regarding the intersections between HIV/AIDS and domestic violence.
October 15, 2011 Felicia will be the guest speaker at Mt. Carmel Church, 740 East 42nd Street, domestic violence luncheon
October 23, 2011 Felicia will be the guest speaker at the Hey Gural Dinner & Play honoring domestic violence awareness month
October 27, 2011 Felicia will be facilitating a webinar on domestic violence at South Side Help Center
October 27, 2011 ANMF will be hosting a Relationship Forum to honor domestic violence awareness month at The Music Station
October 29, 2011 ANMF and local volunteers will be volunteering at the Pacific Garden Homeless Shelter in Chicago, IL recognizing victims and survivors who have left their homes of violence and now dwell in homeless shelters 

Contact Info:
Felicia T. Simpson
P.O. Box 377722
Chicago, IL 60637

Updates 10/27/2011

During the months of September and October, through ANMF Felicia coordinated and/or took part in 8 different events focused on DV.

– ANMF hosted a “Movie Night”- At the end of each movie, we discussed unhealthy choices, risky behaviors and ways that domestic violence could have been prevented.
– I met with Attorney Lynette Lewis to began the incorporation process for ANMF.  During this time, we went over the goals of ANMF, timeline for incorporation, fees, etc. 
– I was a panelist for a Teen HIV/AIDS Forum with Lucid Life Works organization and sponsors for this included the Red Pump Project and South Side Help Center. At the end of this forum, I was amazed that almost everyone that attended, GOT TESTED and waited for the results.  
-I was the guest speaker at Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, at their annual Domestic Violence Prayer Breakfast.  During this time, I shared my personal testimony of being a victim of domestic violence. After the breakfast was over, a line of women, young and old, shared their powerful testimonies and reached out to me to seek services that ANMF provides.
– I was invited as a guest speaker for the morning service at Temple of Glory International Church, honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  During this time I again shared my testimony, provided the congregation with facts about domestic violence and provided them with resources to use if they are victims and/or know of someone that is and could use ANMF services.
-I spoke briefly with the congregation at Greater Walters A.M.E. Zion Church as they honored Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  I recited a poem with facts about domestic violence to help raise awareness and set up a resource table to get information regarding domestic violence and ANMF services.
– I was the guest speaker at Hey G.U.R.A.L. dinner and play ” When He took Over”.  I talked to the audience about domestic violence, my testimony and ways to take this information back to their homes and communities.  I also set up a resource table to get information regarding domestic violence and ANMF services.  During the intermission of the play, I was the receipent of the Hey G.U.R.A.L Leadership Award for the dedication and commitment I have to help break the silence and reconstruct families, victims and survivors of domestic violence.A former male victim of domestic violence who later became a batterer asked for ANMF services for ways to network on teaching workshops. 
-ANMF annual event honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month: The Relationship Forum.  This forum purpose is to get the community out and discuss ways to improve unhealthy relationships and raise awareness and the importance of educating at a group level, on domestic violence. Proceeds raised from this event will be donated to the Greenhouse Shelter that house battered women and their children.
-ANMF will sponsor 10 volunteers to go to the Pacific Garden Mission homeless shelter as we recognize that domestic violence can cause victims and survivors to become homeless at some point while leaving an abusive relationship or homelessness is the result after a divorce or final breakup from the abusive partner. 
– ANMF will set up an exhibit booth both days of the stage play, “RADIO” at The United Church of Hyde Park.   The writer of the play Baus Antoine is an outstanding vessel in the community that wrote this play in honor of domestic violence and his commitment to raise awareness about domestic violence.



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Success Formula: Monique Nicole Caston

I’m never really on the lookout for Success Formula’s, they stand out in a way that you can’t help but notice.

Although I knew her in college, LinkedIn was the beginning of my relationship with Monique Nicole Caston. She starts groups on LinkedIn, joins others, and then takes over in a way that promotes community, communication, and common endeavors. Assured that networking via a social media platform such as LinkedIn will “contribute to my success”, Monique is on the accelerated path to the effective use of social media, and I am watching her footsteps closely.

The owner of Caston Resumes, an avid networker, and a professional agent of community development, Monique intentionally creates spaces and opportunities for social improvement. Currently living in the D.C. metropolitan area, Monique has observed a flaw with the young professional networking scene: often the young people aren’t in the right position professionally to take the networking to the next level. Alternatively, LinkedIn has allowed Monique to make connections across the globe including invites for board membership in different cities.

Her definition of community service is “individually working with residents, businesses, and organizations to get everybody on one accord regarding the needs of their community.” Monique collaborates with residents and community-based organizations to generate ideas on how to improve and increase community- building capacity. With a focus on empowerment, Monique’s message to community members is: You CAN do it yourself.

Early on Monique realized the importance of engaging community interest. Regularly she returns to her elementary school to motivate students and encourage them during their academic obstacles.  Monique’s community outreach tactics in urban areas are guerilla style, and include connecting with your alderman or local political representative and meeting community residents in places they frequently visit such as, corner stores, parks, etc. Talking to residents and making sure they understand proposed changes and outcomes of policies are critical to Monique’s social change tactics.

Monique’s future goals include helping organizations and individuals streamline strategies while ensuring that they do not reinvent the wheel. With a background in social work and architecture, Monique uses asset maps to explain opportunities to those that are seeking to enhance their neighborhood.

A wearer of many hats, I asked Monique does she put herself healthily first. Monique said “it can be difficult, but…… I have a need to want to do things for others….Although it satisfies their immediate needs, by sometimes putting others first I am fulfilling my needs, which is essentially putting myself first.”

When faced with challenges, Monique finds a way to rework difficult situations so that they work in her favor. But Monique is also a challenger, and often forces professors, politicians, and naysayers to reconsider their actions and motivations for change.

One change that Monique accepts for the greater good, is letting go of unnecessary stress. This can include letting go of stale relationships because they are “too exhausting”. Monique is mindful that when you let go of relationships, you may have to reorganize certain aspects of your life, but it can be done.

A woman more than willing to share her resources, Monique is committed to networking her way to success while utilizing the relationships needed to change communities.

Monique Nicole Caston’s Success Formula= Leveraging resources + Frequent engagement on LinkedIn/social media + Holding local political leaders accountable

More on Monique Nicole Caston 

Community Asset

Everyone should get to know their local political leaders and make sure that you have a voice in your community.

Thoughts on starting a new organization

Everybody does not need to start one; Should find ways to partner and assist with what is already going on to further enhance your community.

Memorable story

“At 18 I went to my local alderman and told him that I did not like the direction the community was headed and that although young, I still had a voice.” 

Her ideal Job

To work with/for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

SMART goals

In 3.5 years I would like to own a multi-use facility in the South Shore community (Chicago) that embodies multiculturalism, retail, healthy food supplied by local producers, and provides space for performers and authors.

Contact Info


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Success Formula: Jeff Baker

How do you respond when the torch is passed to you? That is what I ask myself when I think of Jeff Baker, a diligent, low-key, enthusiastic, Chicago activist. I first met Jeff while assisting with the mayoral campaign of William Dock Walls III during the 2011 Chicago elections. Although our candidate of choice did not win the election, Jeff and I continued discussions on local issues while focusing our talks on long-term solutions.

Shortly after the election, Jeff was nominated and elected as the new president of Committee for a Better Chicago (CFABC). The mission of CFABC is “To provide clear and factual information about political & social justice issues, affecting the Chicagoland area.” As president, Jeff is responsible for shaping and re-shaping the organizational structure of CFABC, as well as growing the momentum of the members and their purposeful service.

Jeff believes that community development is “strategic education, marketing, and networking….community development is about meeting people where they are.” Through CFABC, Jeff aims to effectively deliver information to those that have fallen between the cracks. CFABC will “simplify public information [of local
orgs] so that community messages are more easily digested. CFABC will then strategically disseminate the information using social media, text, email, word of mouth, and contest with cash prizes.” Jeff supports the idea of providing incentives for children and young adults to be awarded for learning and engaging in the civic education and enhancement of Chicago. “There are monetary incentives for us as adults to find answers, and better ourselves; we should present the same opportunities for our children and those that have fallen between the cracks,” says Jeff.

During our interview, Jeff shared one of CFABCs upcoming supporting collaborations, which I consider to be brilliant and critical for the Chicagoland area- Neighborhood mentoring through the restoration of Block Clubs. Syron Smith spearheaded this initiative, and CFABC will help accomplish the goals of this timely endeavor within the Chicago vicinity.

A part of restoring block clubs and re-building villages/ neighborhoods, includes bartering with local businesses. Jeff struggles with bartering because he feels “that people should be paid for their services and that is one of the challenges I have had adjusting to the community service/ social activist scene. We (CFABC) have had to approach local business owners with the only hope of compensation being the residual effects of CFABCs social action”, to change the course of social ills rampant in each community.

Jeff Baker sets high goals and revises as needed. “While working on the campaign for Dock Walls, I began to share in Docks goals to market and reach over 300,000 Chicago residents and help educate them about issues affecting the city, while providing solutions as well….Because my goals are so large/ high, I often fall short,  but i regroup, strategize and keep moving toward the goal” stated Jeff.

Jeff may fall short of his lofty goals, but there is still much success in what he does accomplish. In order to achieve his goals, Jeff carries a notepad with him, taking notes that lead to action plans.  Reviewing these notes daily, along with his calendar, Jeff studies his notepad. “I feel that these [studying notepad and creating action plans] things on a daily basis are prayer, as I ask for guidance and realign my connection to the source/ God and my God given purpose!”

When I asked Jeff how does he put himself first in a healthy manner, his answer further revealed the depth of his insight and commitment to Chicago. Jeff puts himself first by focusing on his family first. Jeff stated, “I watch members of my family successfully take on certain roles and responsibilities…And I realize that my family is a team, a small business, and although my personal needs may sometimes be put on the back-burner, putting my family needs first is part of putting myself first. With that, I also see my block, community, etc as an extension of family. As I move in a different level/rank in my family, my role evolves.” Rarely has someone been able to articulate the correlation between self, family, and community so selflessly.

In his roles as a family and community servant, I can only imagine that Jeff has had to sever a few ties in both his personal, professional, and community intersections, so I sought his wisdom about letting go of stale relationships. His method: straight forward communication, one more chance, and then if the same problems continue, cease all communication cold turkey! Jeff asserts “…I am always straightforward so that I do not doubt whether my message was clear.”

Jeff truly believes that his work with CFABC is his God-given purpose, designed to serve his family (and community family) as well. His ego is low and his goals are high. Jeff Baker embodies the characteristics needed to achieve lasting social change.

Jeff Baker’s Success Formula = Messaging to the masses + Above the bar goal setting  + Family and community deference + Straight forward communication

More  on Jeff Baker

As  you are growing and exploring new opportunities in the city of Chicago, have you thought about your ideal position or ideal job description?

“I am still bouncing it around, but the more I work toward it, it is becoming clear to me. I believe that I am to be a communication liasion between the higher educated and the lesser educated (no less intelligent). I believe the position I am in now, with CFABC, I can do this for the rest of my life and achieve many of my SMART goals.”

S.M.A.R.T. goal(s)

To have 50 members of CFABC inside of 50 different orgs in the Chicagoland area by 2013

And the way we will achieve this is by recruiting 2 new members in 2 new orgs per month- 2013 to reach the target number

Contact Info




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Success Formulas: What I Have Learned Part 2

What I love most about the Success Formulas series is learning the thought processes and actions of individuals that are actively pursuing their goals.

This round of questions for Success Formulas revolved around budgeting resources, overcoming fears, community development, S.M.A.R.T. goals, and productive spaces.

Living a more intentional life, I have created the following statements/ affirmations in which I am sure will take me further than I imagine.

I seek out and embrace the platform(s) for my success

My success begins and ends with my courage

I am the active example of my purpose

I treasure my target audience

Below are previous affirmations that I created and embraced.

I accept accountability for my responsibilities

I believe in God as a guiding power for my achievements

I cherish and nurture relationships with like-minded people

I value detailed work ethic

It is with these daily affirmations and positive thoughts that I will breathe air into my Life Plan and S.M.A.R.T. goals.

How have your applied lessons from the Success Formulas series to your life?

Below is a link to a blog entry that has some great affirmations that can be used while working out.

Update 7.11.11- From Percy Ollie Jr.

  1. I’m delayed on my SMART goal of completing my bible in 365 day. I am currently only on day 7 so, I’m about 2-3 weeks behind. The good news I’ve done the hardest part of getting started and I plan on picking up momentum to get caught up. Additionally, I’ve began 2 other devotionals that are assisting with my understanding.
  2. Still in search of additional photographer
  3. I have 1 intern secured and in the process of allocating responsibilities
    Additionally, I have 2 other potential candidates
  4. I last worked on the content for my new webpage about 2 weeks ago so, I haven’t been as progressive as I would like to be in order to reach my goal. This week I will be creating a new plan to track my progress so, that I’m able to stay ahead of schedule.

Update 7.12.11- From Titi Lo’Kei

  1. I still attend church every Sunday and I am also reading the bible more everyday.
  2. I pray all day everyday but i am still forming a habit of reading the bible every morning and evening. I have picked up on reading the bible but I am not yet at the point where I want to be. But as long as i am making progress I am happy.
  3. The one thing I keep going back to is budget. I remember saying I never set budgets because music expenses can be so random and unpredicted but that answer actually bothered me. Since then I have been studying ways to budget and save money in order to plan for unexpected expenses. I have also been finding ways to make extra money and seek out investors that are interested in sponsoring my music career. I often times live too much in the present instead of thinking long-term when it comes to money, but all of that is slowly changing for the better.

Update 7.21.2011- From Chanel Ballard 

The Rise2Power Project is still an inspirational vehicle to watch. We continue to build our inspiration fan club and encourage youth and young adults to be active participants in their destiny. I’m confident that we’ll have a soft launch for The Rise2Power Project August 15th.


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