We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Watts and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Peter, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I was a former principal of Thurgood Marshall Middle School, I saw the need and the disparity in education around black children and foster care. They were disproportionately affected and I wanted to do something about it. My wife and I began researching around the country the ways in which organizations and businesses were supporting foster youth. We found that many organizations were doing some really great work, but we knew that those students in our schools weren’t succeeding academically nor were they graduating high school or being accepted into college as a higher rate. We decided to launch our Foundation. We wanted to see every foster youth and in particular black and brown kids finish school and go onto college. We wanted the same things for other people’s children that we had desired for our own three children who finished college.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Watts of Power Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit that exists for the sole purpose of creating educational resources and supports for foster youth, first generation and/or low income students in high poverty zip codes. We carry out this mission through a variety of programs and services that are all designed to empower people in particular African American families through basic needs such as emergency clothing and food, education, housing, economic development, job training and advocacy. I have always been a person who loved people and families who would be considered “on the margins.” Growing in South LA I’ve seen and experienced the struggles that many of these families have. Although I’ve never been in foster care myself, I have had to have families surround me and my mom when we were struggling to survive. It was through my own experiences and being able to graduate from college and start my own business and other non-profit ventures that I wanted to give back to others that looked like me and came from the same communities that I had come from. Some of the things that I have learned and still continue to learn is that I am not able to do it on my own. Although I am gifted in many ways, teams and collaborating with others helps you to make a larger impact than if you tried to go at it alone. I am always networking and meeting people who are either there to support my work financially or direct me in ways to make smarter decisions in business. This has allowed me to develop relationships with mentors who are CEO’s, Executive Directors, and/or business owners themselves who guide me when I come up against different obstacles in my own life and business.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had a friend who came to visit me the first place I would take them to visit is Leimert Park. We would go shopping at Eso Won Bookstore to shop around to get the latest books about our history in America as black people or a novel where people of African descent are centered in the story. We would then go visit the Fernando Pulam Performing Arts Center and watch gifted young people play music, sing, and act. We would then grab a meal down the street at Earle Grill where they have the best hot dogs, hamburgers (beef or vegan) and my favorite fruit drink “Playas Punch.” We would then go downtown to the L.A. Live where the Staples Center is located to take pictures with the statues of NBA legends such as Magic Johnson, Shaq and Kobe Bryant. Then we finish our night by hanging out at one of the local bars like the Yardhouse and watch the game on one of the big screen TV monitors.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Big Shout out to my wife Dr. Didi Watts who has always believed in me and my dreams. Whenever I had a seemingly crazy idea she never shot it down. She always says, “I believe in you because God has gifted you with the spirit of an entrepreneur and you are great at building relationships that last a lifetime.”