We had the good fortune of connecting with Edwin Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Edwin, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor is the fact that I understand a lot of the challenges many of these youth are facing, because of my past so I have been able to use my life experiences and my skills to help empower youth in the community. This is important because my back story and passion give youth the understanding and the trust in because I have walked a similar path and was able to overcome many of these challenges. Another important factor is that I live my purpose every day by helping these Youth and that grounds and fulfills me and keeps my brand alive and kicking. So everything I create under my brand is apart of my purpose but I’m just getting more and more creative with it. The ultimate success of my brand is the fact that our motto is for youth by youth, meaning that we are youth ran program by youth in the community, we train up youth to impact other youth.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am CEO and Founder of a non-profit called “CHORDS Youth Enrichment Program” What makes us different is that we use the arts to empower youth and to give them their own voice to express themselves in all aspects of life, whether is a rap song, spoken word or a painted mural we help them find the skill inside of the and cultivate if. STarting my non-profit and building it was not easy. 9 years ago I committed to working on it 2 hours a day people didn’t understand where I was going with it and being a black male promoting rap in an educational setting brings a lot of confusion so contractors would not give us the opportunity. Until a principal at San Bernardino high school name Dr. Guiteriez gave me a chance and we created a school song and the video went viral. This opened the doors to other major opportunities. People think starting a successful nonprofit is easy but it’s very difficult because there are others wanting to save the world too, but it’s only for those that are super committed because working for no pay or hearing no all the times can be frustrating in the beginning. For the first 4 years, I did not get a dime I had to work other jobs and still work on my non-profit. Although I never chased the money I see the value in it in order to expand but God does provide the provision for the vision. Don’t focus on the money focus on the cause and your nitch that’s how you grow and eventually, people will start looking for you and your services.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to the Waterman discount mall to do some shopping and head downtown to Rodgers Burgers for some great burgers which is a black-owned burger joint. Then I would go shoe shopping at Good Companie, then site see down Baseline then finally the historic route 66
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to thank Tom Dolan and David Kalke. These were men who held me accountable when I was starting this journey as a teen and they never gave up on me even after they had to fire me. I came back when I realized what they were trying to teach me, I was in my early 20’s then and they still gave me the best advice for starting my company and always supported me through the process even if they were far from me.
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