BE Modern Man: Richard Grundy
Nonprofit founder and executive, 36, CEO of JOURNi
Twitter: @mrrichgrundy; Instagram: @mrrichgrundy
I cofounded JOURNi along with a fellow BE Modern Man Brian McKinney and Quiessence Phillips. JOURNi’s a nonprofit that focuses on empowering young Detroiters in underserved communities through tech education, design thinking, and entrepreneurship through courses, programs, and events that we facilitate. What makes our org a bit different is that we don’t only teach our students how to build web projects but also how to monetize that skillset on their own through freelancing and entrepreneurship. We also bring in different tech professionals and entrepreneurs, through a speaker series, who can identify with our students and the challenges they may face outside of the classroom. In 2018 alone, we’ve helped to introduce close to 3,000 students to coding.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
At this point in my life, I’m most proud of the impact we’re making at JOURNi. We’ve come from running our first program in 2016 to introducing close to 3,000 kids to coding last year. Along the way, we’ve been able to garner support from the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, The Skillman Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Ford, Microsoft, and Google among others. We’ve come a long way in how we impact our community and I know that we’ll get better.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
JOURNi was a part of an accelerator program where I had the opportunity to pitch for a $50,000 grant for the organization. I’ve always struggled with public speaking and it definitely was not a strength in the past. I absolutely bombed the pitch. I didn’t let that consume me that day and continued to make lasting connections on a one-on-one basis with attendees for the remainder of the event. Those connections turned into relationships with people who still support and partner with JOURNi until this day. I’ve also greatly improved my public speaking since then and look forward to any opportunity to do so when talking about JOURNi and the problem that we’re focused on solving.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
I wouldn’t pick any one person, but I would say that I actually learn a lot from my peers and leaders in my area that came before that I get to work with. I’ve learned a lot in the last few years as far as what it means to be a youth developer, how one can carry oneself while in the work and what it means to actually be present.
I’m also learning how the black male leaders that I really admire are all approachable and treat everyone with the same respect regardless of their influence.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
I define manhood as understanding the responsibility that a man has to his family and community and proudly carrying out that responsibility. Whether that’s protecting or providing for his family or educating those that came after him, [it means] understanding that there is a responsibility and carrying that with honor.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
With JOURNi, we support black males through our coding and entrepreneurship programming. This gives me the opportunity to teach young black men a skill that can generate income and then we take it a step further and show them how to actually monetize the skillset through freelance work. We’ve also sponsored a black college tour for two of our earlier black male students. In addition, I’m a part of the campaign for black male achievement Black Male Equity Initiative fellowship in Detroit. After completing the fellowship, I’ll be able to help transfer some of the knowledge learned to the next cohort.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
I think that black men have done some amazing things in American history and continue to do amazing things today. I don’t take lightly the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of those great men from the past to impact and teach in our community or the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with my current peers impacting the community now. Knowing what was accomplished in the past by these men and that we come from the same stock helps to motivate me in my work today.
It’s truly an honor to be recognized as a BE Modern Man of Distinction. I remember years ago entering a Black Enterprise hackathon, which subsequently introduced to me to a black tech community in New York and helped shaped the way I look at community and the work I do today back home in Detroit.
It’s amazing how things come full circle.
BE Modern Man is an online and social media campaign designed to celebrate black men making valuable contributions in every profession, industry, community, and area of endeavor. Each year, we solicit nominations in order to select men of color for inclusion in the 100 Black Enterprise Modern Men of Distinction. Our goal is to recognize men who epitomize the BEMM credo “Extraordinary is our normal” in their day-to-day lives, presenting authentic examples of the typical black man rarely seen in mainstream media. The BE Modern Men of Distinction are celebrated annually at Black Men XCEL (dev.blackenterprise.com/blackmenxcel/). Click this link to submit a nomination for BE Modern Man: https://dev.blackenterprise.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.