We had the good fortune of connecting with Marvin Pierre and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marvin, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The biggest factor behind my success has been grounding everything that I do in purpose and passion. The success of our brand has grown mainly because of the passion and love that we have for serving our most vulnerable young adults in the city of Houston.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my career working on WallStreet for a company called Goldman Sachs. In 2008, due to the financial crisis, I was laid off. My best friend from boarding school asked me to come and speak to her students in her class, specifically the young boys who were not taking school seriously. After speaking to the young men in the 5th grade class, I learned that the highest reading level for most of them was third grade. As a man of color, I knew what that meant for many of the boys in the classroom, that as a result of their reading levels, many of them would have a higher likelihood of being involved in the criminal justice system and less likely to graduate from high school. That experience also reminded of something that my mentor and surrogate farther, Dr. Sam McFadden said to me during the many moments we shared together ” No matter how high I climb up the ladder of success in life, always reach back to pull up someone else.” I decided from that moment on to dedicate my life to helping our most vulnerable youth reach their fullest potential, especially our young boys of color. I ended up pursuing a career in education and worked at several schools in New York City and Houston. I currently serve as the Executive Director of a non-profit called Eight Million Stories which works to help disconnected youth 16-24 complete their education, receive job readiness skills, and social and emotional support. The work to get Eight Million Stories wasn’t easy. We started $60,000 in debt and didn’t have funding secured to cover staff salaries and programming needs. I had no fundraising experience. I just bet on myself, my passion and my faith that this was important work that we were doing and that we would find a way to sustain ourselves. Even now, I often remind myself that in times of challenge that I need to continue to bet on my self and trust the process.
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?
There would be no Eight Million Stories, without the support of several people and institutions. Dr. Toby Hamilton – Eight Million Stories board chairman who believed in our vision from the start. Ms. Skyra Thomas – Our Director of Operations and Programming who is the foundation for the success of Eight Million Stories. Her level of commitment to young adults and families is unmatched! Ms.Vanessa Ramirez – Who is the original visionary for Eight Million Stories and entrusted me to carry the mission forward. Mr. Henry Gonzalez – Executive Director of Harris County Juvenile Probation – his innovative vision allowed for us to be able to service young people involved in the Juvenile Justice system. The New Teacher Project (TNTP) – My opportunity to be a Bridge Fellow and receive early stage funding to support the development of the Eight Million Stories program was a game-changer. Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC) – their support both financially and giving me access to resources gave us the funding support that we needed to build out the Eight Million Stories program. Without their support, I’m not certain we would still be in operation today.