Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Alan Powell of AP & Associates has embraced this idea and is gathering troops to help him make it happen. Creating strategic partnerships between his business, local and national leaders coming and opening up the dialog between them and the under served students in the Phoenix area. By initiating events to help propel President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper community challenge, such as the multi-cultural basketball tournament, Cactus City Classic, that will be held for the first year in 2017 here in Phoenix.
Jose Carlos: “My Brother’s Keeper, Brother Up Forum.” “Connecting Solutions to Action” was held last month. The effort was part of the My Brother’s Keeper community challenge launched by President Obama in September 2014. The forum was sponsored by the “Checkered Flag Run Foundation,” which provides diverse educational programs that help under served students.
Here to talk about the forum is Alan AP Powell, Founder and Chairman of the Checkered Flag Run Foundation.
Mr. Powell, thank you for joining us on “Orrizonte.”
What’s particularly impressive about all the work that you’re doing in this area, is you’ve got a day job that keeps you pretty busy as it is, and yet you find time to give back to the community. Tell us what inspired you to do that?
Alan Powell: Well, growing up in inner city in Louisville, Kentucky, I felt part of my legacy would be making a difference in other people’s lives. I wake up every morning feeling, “How can I make other people’s lives better?”
Jose: You’re based here in Arizona?
Alan: Yes, sir.
Jose: You do work all over the country?
Alan: Yes, sir. I’m based here. I’ve been in the valley about six years now. I love it. I come from California and New York. That’s where I resided before I moved to Arizona.
Jose: Before we get to some of your specific projects, tell us about the Checkered Flag Run Foundation. What does it mean? Why the reference to Checkered Flag?
Alan: Our motto is, “Ensuring that every kid gets a chance to cross the finish line.” We really take that serious, our mission statement. Some of the things that we do, we have a program where we have a backpack drive we do every year called “Phoenix Tools for School.” We give about 3,000 to 4,000 backpack salary every year at “Lo‑Lo’s Chicken and Waffle,” on 7th street in Buckeye.
We also have another thing called “Drive Your Mind” which is a community piece where we give out Christmas toys and things to children in the community. We have another program called “To the Top Scholarship.” We partner with the University of Phoenix and we give scholarships back into the community.
Jose: Let’s talk about your most recent action, the forum that was held on Saturday before the Super Bowl game itself. The forum, and I understand the mayor’s tent was part of that. What did you do there?
Alan: Well, I went to the mayor and I went to Congressman Gallego and Councilwoman Kate Gallego. I thought that we should make a difference and take advantage of all the people being in town, Super Bowl weekend. Me coming from entertainment business, I reached out to some gentlemen that I knew were distinguished gentlemen across the country, everybody from Damon Jones, from “Shark Tank,” and Boris Kodjoe who was picked as “The most beautiful man in the world,” and an African American actor.
Everybody from General Spider Marks who used to be the Joint Chief of Intelligence for the Armed Forces. We kind of assimilate that group along with some local community leaders like Kerwin Brown from the “Black Chamber,” Michael Kelly who moderated it, who’s a local community activist.
Jose: And somebody we’ve had as a guest in this show, so we’re quite familiar with his credentials and a pretty impressive fellow. You got a very, very aggressive major project coming up. It’s in the planning stages as I understand. If you’re successful, it’s going to have a major impact on the city and the country.
Alan: Yes, sir. A colleague of mine, Teniqua Broughton, and myself, we thought we could make a difference by bringing something diverse to the state of Arizona. I talked to Governor Ducey about it. I talked to Mayor Stanton about it. I talked to Councilwoman Kate Gallego. I talked to Congressmen Gallego about this brings something substantial, diverse to kind of change the image of our state.
What we decided to do was create a thing called the “Cactus City Classic,” which is a multi‑cultural basketball tournament. It will be held in Arizona, in February around MLK weekend to acknowledge our state, and show that our state was moving in the right direction.
Jose: As several years off.
Alan: Yes, sir. 2017, we will move to event here to Arizona. There’s a duplicate event in Charlotte, and they bring about 250,000 people to Charlotte every year. It’s called CIAA. We decided to duplicate that. What our efforts has been with the “Thurgood Marshall Fund,” which is the largest American African college fund in the country. They service over 300,000 students a year.
Jose: If people want to get involved, to help support your organization, how would they do that?
Alan: You can reach out to us online at cfrf.org, CheckeredFunRunFoundation.org, or you can call us at our office. We have a 800 number, 800‑876‑8606.
Jose: I want to go back and talk a little bit about the connection between your efforts at forum and everything, with the initiative that President Obama started. What’s the connection?
Alan: I think what we wanted to do is accept the President’s challenge, in making a difference in our youth’s lives in Arizona. Then, educate our youth in some of the things that face our country, like being able to interact with the police. Being able to show them that education is important, being able to show some of these students that everybody has a chance to be successful in life. Being able to make sure that we brought leaders in that could tell their story, and they could adopt some of the dialogue from these leaders, to feel like they could be successful also.
Jose: You’ve been at this for a few years now. What kind of impact do you think you and your programs have had?
Alan: I think we have a great impact, because we’ve had serious support locally, and on national level. We’ve had everybody from Andrew Cohen, who chaired up the Aviation Board in Sky Harbor, who’s a big businessman, support us. We’ve had everybody from Bubba Moffet and his crew, Joe Cotroeo and Crescent Crown. We’ve had a lot of community leaders get behind us, and a lot of business leaders believe in what our message is.
Jose: You’ve been able to do all this with a fairly small group of organizers. Tell us just a little bit about the organization itself and we’re going to have to wrap up.
Alan: We have a very small group. It’s myself, Teniqua Broughton, Lynn Austin. We have a gentleman named Aaron Bare who is a big time educator here. He was the entrepreneur‑in‑residence at Thunderbird. He’s embraced our movement too. We have a very innovative group that wants to move forward, and do things different and make a difference in the state of Arizona.
Jose: It certainly looked like you’ve done that. Mr. Powell, thank you for joining us on Orrizonte to give us a rundown of your activities.
Alan: Thank you, sir.
Alan: Thank you.
Jose: That’s our show for tonight. From all of us here at “Eight and Orrizonte,” thank you for watching. I’m Jose Carlos. Have a good evening.
Man 1: Funding for Orrizonte is made possible by contributions by “The Friends of Eight,” members of your, Arizona PBS Station.