BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.
BE MODERN MAN TONEY EARL JR.
Profession: Social Impact Entrepreneur
One Word That Describes You: Resilient
Social Media: Facebook: Toney Earl Jr. | Instagram: @toneyearljr
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
This is an amazing and extremely humbling honor for a myriad of reasons, the first being that I grew up with Black Enterprise magazine on my parents’ dining room table. When I entered the social impact field, it was about putting my head down and doing the work to help change as many lives as possible, particularly in the re-entry and alternatives to incarceration space, but recognition like this forces me to pause (momentarily) to acknowledge how far I’ve come. Having overcome the challenge of incarceration, and then transitioning to the other side to help others who’ve had criminal justice involvement work through the same challenges that I once faced, was never about recognition but I do understand that an honor such as this is a huge victory not just for me but for all formerly incarcerated men and women looking for a second chance.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
I was able to take my lived experiences as both an entrepreneur and possessing a criminal record and leverage those identities to found MADE Transitional Services (Making a Difference Everyday). Along with my co-founder, Tarik Greene, I work to assist formerly incarcerated men and women with job readiness, job placement, career integration, transitional housing, and other supportive services needed to successfully transition back into society. We opened the doors to our first transitional house on March 14, 2018. Additionally, we have a youth prevention component comprised of mentoring and assembly-style presentations and workshops to prevent our youth from ever needing our intra-correctional or post-incarceration services.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
Mass-incarceration racial disparities result in well over 50% of our clients being black males, so on a day-to-day basis, we assist black men with employment and obtaining certifications and vital training needed to transition into a career—not just a job—in order to reach self-sufficiency. We also work with black men to find their sense of purpose and help them articulate that purpose to make it tangible. This ultimately leads them to providing for their families and making positive contributions to their communities all while not reverting back to crime.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
In my younger years, I used my gifts and talents in negative ways. I experienced the consequences of those poor choices, which resulted in serving 31 months in New York State prisons for possession and sale of controlled substances before getting back to the way I was raised, and who I truly am as a person (a child of God). My success has been getting to the place of understanding that when we operate within our purpose, we are unstoppable and therefore MADE is unstoppable!
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Integrity is very important.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Expanding our current transitional home Fletcher Boykins Residency (named after two of my late college friends who were murdered due to senseless gun violence) from nine beds to a larger space that can accommodate our growing need for at least 24 beds. We hope to finalize this expansion this fall. MADE has also partnered with MindOpen Learning Strategies to deliver Fair Chance Hiring training to HR professionals and business leaders as a means of expanding workforce inclusion for criminal justice-involved and non-traditional candidates. We illustrate how this untapped talent pool adds significant business value.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Stay true to who you are and the universe will make room for your purpose.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Our youth are our most valuable resource, and one of the most critical ways we can help them is by establishing a greater presence. There isn’t any specific activity or approach required. Just by establishing interest and presence in our young people, we can make a world of difference as perception is reality. Our youth need more visibility and access to professionals who look like them to help broaden their perspectives and ultimately expand their realities.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I approach all events, meetings, and engagements the same. I treat a small meeting or smaller audience with the same detail and prep as I do a larger one. My thought process is don’t shortchange the smaller meetings, and don’t add any additional pressure to the larger ones. Research, rehearse, rest, and relax—be yourself is my basic approach.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
I enjoy traveling both domestically and abroad with mostly rest and relaxation on the agenda and some sightseeing and cultural exploration. I’m a foodie, so great food is a must!
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
A few countries in Africa are on my bucket list to learn more about my lineage and ancestry prior to slavery here in America.
Anything else you’d like to say?
“We all have the ability to make a difference every day.” —Toney Earl Jr.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.
Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the 2nd Annual Black Men XCEL, Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2018, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
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