"He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." - Malachi 4:6
"Raising up leaders of a nation from unlikely places."
The United States of America is increasingly becoming the Divided States of America and a nation with so much division can only stand for so long before it falls. We have become divisive on almost every issue, but the one thing we can all agree on is that America is in desperate need of help. At Malachi, we believe the root of many of these problems stem from the epidemic of a fatherless generation. When the blind lead the blind it should come as no surprise at our current demise. Almost every social ill increases with absentee fathers.
1 in 3 children in America are growing up without a father in their home.
Kids with absent fathers are twice as likely to commit suicide.
85% of youth in prison come from homes without fathers.
71% of high school drop-outs didn't have their dads involved in their lives.
Adolescents without fathers are 10 times as likely to suffer substance abuse.
Children who grow up without fathers are 4 times as likely to live in poverty.
Those who have no father in the home are 11 times more likely to be violent.
9 out of 10 homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes.
70% of teen pregnancies come from homes where the father isn't present.
"Kids have a hole in their soul in the shape of their dads."
- Roland Warren, Former President of National Fatherhood Initiative
“....what too many fathers also are is missing — missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”
- Barack Obama
“Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation."
-David Blankenhorn, Institute for American Values
So how do we solve the problem?
When Martin Luther King Jr., the greatest civil rights leader of our time, decided to knock down the walls of segregation he didn’t start with the least segregated city. Instead, he went to Birmingham, Alabama – the most segregated city in America, because he knew if he could change this city it would change the rest of the nation. And he was right! He started with the most difficult of places first.
At Malachi, we believe in the same strategy – start by changing the most unlikely people in the most difficult places first, the ones causing the largest strain on society – men from the most violent prisons in America, gang members, juvenile delinquents, the trouble-makers in school. We are seeking the "outcasts" of society to transform into great leaders. Why? Because these men are risk-takers, they're "hustlers", bold, fearless, and don't follow the crowd - all the makings of a natural-born leader! The only problem is that they have been led astray. Many, who came from fatherless homes and had a lack of guidance, were left to fend for themselves.
“I always hear the Christian right talking about religion. Well, Jesus went to the lowest and these men right here are the lowest of the low. You reach these guys and they will be your most powerful warriors to reach your agenda.”
- Inmate from "Locked Up" series
This man's father got life in prison when he was 8 years old. He died of a heart attack in prison. Now he too is serving time behind bars.
By targeting these natural-born leaders it's not necessary to convince them to lead. They simply need to be taught how to lead and we believe with the right resources, mentors and programs these very men have the ability to become some of our greatest leaders and create solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing our nation.
KING DAVID LED THE OUTCASTS
“All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.” I Samuel 22:2
The Tipping Point
The problems we have in America may feel overwhelming, however, it actually boils down to simple math and by using an old adage, "Each one teach one."
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society, therefore, becoming the "tipping point" in society. In Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point he discusses how beliefs, ideas and trends go from being contained in a small sector of the population to seemingly becoming what he refers to as a social epidemic. He believes these social epidemics spread through "connectors".
The connectors are people who know everybody and love to talk. They are your galvanizers and influencers in a crowd. They are able to mobilize people. And they have a diverse social network - meaning they have relationships with people in all different sectors - racially, socially, economically, religious, etc. He makes the comparison of a person with an infectious disease.
If an infected person stays within their community the disease can easily be contained. However, if they begin travelling from state to state and then to other countries and infect these people, the disease begins to spread rapidly as these infected people then infect others within their communities and cities. It becomes very difficult to contain. This is where the disease becomes a social epidemic.
In America there are 325 million people. Ten percent of this is 32 million, which still feels like a lot of people to impact. However, when you begin to break it down geographically it starts to become a very attainable number. There are approximately 19,000 "incorporated places" across America. These are cities or towns with a population of 5,000 or more.
This breaks down to only needing to reach 1,685 people in each city.
Let's say you identify 33 "connectors" in each city and put them through a 9 month leadership class. Then after the 9 months they were responsible for leading another group of 33 "connectors" through the same leadership class. In an 18-month period you have reached over 1,000 people.
Now this is where the social epidemic begins to occur!
If this group of over 1,000 "connectors" identify another group of 33 "connectors" and train them up in the same leadership class you have now impacted over 35,000 people in 2 years and 3 months. Now imagine if you were doing this in every city! But let's assume you didn't reach every city. What if you only targeted 7 percent of the cities across America? This would be around 1,300 cities, which breaks down to 26 cities in each state.
Assuming we identified our 33 "connectors" in 26 cities in each state, within 2 years and 3 months we would have reached over 46 million people - our "tipping point".
We only need to raise up 33 leaders in 26 cities in every state to transform America!
Our Strategy for Success
To truly change a culture you have to identify and then impact the spheres of influence. So what are they?
Arts & Entertainment
“The most powerful nations are not those that have nuclear bombs, but those that control the media. That’s where the battle is being fought; that is how you control people’s minds.” - Spike Lee
Spike Lee was right when he said the battle for a nation exists in the midst of whoever controls the media. Now, more than ever, media plays an ever present role in shaping the minds, opinions and hearts of the American people. However, there is a narrative that is also being created by some dominating voices in the media with an agenda that are taking the truth and distorting it to appear to be something that it's not.
Areas of Focus
"Have sex or you're not a man. Then it progresses: Have a lot of sex or you're not a man. Then it gets even worse: Start having sex with only one woman....and you're less of a man. These are scripts, not truths."
- Lewis Howes, The Mask of Masculinity
"Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear." - Edgar Allen Poe
But the good news is that in the same way media has been used to negatively impact our culture, in can be used in the same way to positively impact the culture. And this is our vision here at Malachi - to identify the "outcasts" - the "connectors" in society, teach them honorable leadership skills and then train them how to influence their culture through media. By infiltrating all these areas of communication and media with positive and reinforcing messages of what strong, male leadership should look like we can and will turn the tide on the epidemic of fatherlessness.
This picture right here is a perfect example of why you shouldn't believe everything that you see and hear. The original photograph was taken on June19,1964, and showed King giving a peace sign (a hand gesture involving two fingers raised in a “v”) after hearing that the civil rights bill had passed the senate. The photo on the left (which has obviously been photoshopped) began circulating the internet sometime in 2012.
This might seem harmless, however, it becomes quite dangerous in a culture where at the click of a button false narratives and misinformation can begin to circulate to millions within hours, and before you know it an assault on a set of beliefs or a character assassination can begin in social media, transpired through individuals who get their news through 7-second sound bites and 140 character Tweets with little to no fact checking.
Add to this the increasing moral decline in mainstream television, movies and reality shows where exploitation, sexualization, disrespect and degradation are the new "norm". Then when you add all of this into the amount of time people are now consuming all forms of media (most studies show on average Americans spend 5 hours or more a day) - it is without question that media is impacting all the other spheres of influence.
And in a society where more and more children are growing up without fathers, many boys are left with media as their only guide to what a man should look like. But where are the positive male role models? They are hard pressed to find. There is no doubt media is having a detrimental effect on the breakdown of the family and is contributing to the epidemic of a fatherless generation.
Journalism and Reporting
Improv (Communication, teamwork, and onstage theatre skills)
"When you've got nothing to lose, you've got everything to gain. Sometimes it takes having your back against the wall, leveraging your last dollar, and having no place to go but up, up, up if you expect something to happen. Because if you've got to succeed to survive, you will."
- Daymond John, "The Power of Broke"
"The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender." - Proverbs 22:7
Plain and simple - a vision takes money - and the bigger the vision the more money that it takes. And for the most part, the person with the money gets to set the rules.
But, for far too long Americans have been heading in the wrong direction financially. According to the Federal Reserves, the average American has $137,063 in debt, this includes on average $16,883 in credit card debt and $50,626 in student loans; while the median household income is only $59,039. Millions of Americans are only one emergency or paycheck away from financial disaster. According to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index survey, only 39% of Americans have enough money to cover a $1,000 unexpected expense. As a nation we are over $21 trillion in debt!
"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he."
- Proverbs 29:18
Unless we do something different America is headed for financial disaster.
At Malachi, not only do we believe a vast majority of Americans need to learn better financial management, but we also believe we need to turn the tide on outsourcing jobs and the decline in innovation and start-up businesses. For years many economists have been sounding the alarm that the U.S. is headed towards an "innovation crisis" which threatens America's prosperity and we agree. We believe part of this reason is because students are not being presented with options for entrepreneurship. The only path of "success" that is being presented to them is college, but how is that working out for most?
Research from Citizens Financial Group suggests that 60% of student debt borrowers won't pay off their loans until their 40's. Student debt is also leading to a decrease in home ownership, according to the Federal Reserve Board of Washington D.C. , and a study from NerdWallet predicts that students who graduated from college in 2015 will have now have to delay retirement until the age of 75, in part because of the increasing burden of student debt.
It seems that college is good for creating debt and a generation of "test takers", but not so good at preparing them for the work force. In a study conducted from May to September 2016 by firm GradStaff on recent college graduates, nearly 70% were either unemployed or working in a full-time non-professional job to make ends meet. Eighty-six percent of the respondents reported having no job offer at the time of the survey. When asked what the two top obstacles in finding employment were, (other than lack of experience) 46% stated "I don't know what to do with my major".
Maybe this is why Entrepreneur and Founder of PHP Agency, Patrick Bet-David, said this "....spending money on a degree while you possess a complete lack of direction is a waste of time and money (your parents' money or worse, student loan debt!). The truth is that you don't necessarily need a college degree to excel in many professions in life." Considering his net worth is $100 million and the average college graduate is making $49,000 a year it might make sense to take advice from those who are actually making lots of the thing we're all working to achieve - money.
(To read an excerpt from his book, "Drop Out and Get Schooled: The Case for Thinking Twice About College"
Apparently business savvy and former Wall Street professional Catherine Hoke also agrees that creating entrepreneurs is the way to go. And her business model has the track record to prove it! But what makes it even more impressive is that she's been able to do it through some of the most unlikely in society - prisoners.
Years ago when Catherine visited a prison she had a revelation - that behind those walls was an untapped reservoir of gifted business men and leaders. The only problem was they hadn't been taught how to do it legally. That's where she got the brilliant idea to start P.E.P. (Prison Entrepreneurship Program) in 2004, a program that started in the Texas prisons to teach men how to be entrepreneurs by using a "Shark Tank" style approach where the inmates pitch their ideas to business executives throughout a 9-month program, and with training and mentoring are taught the skills needed to start their own businesses upon release from prison.
Since its inception, the graduates from their Dallas and Houston facilities have launched over 200 businesses, including six that generate over $1 million in gross annual revenue. They also boast a 100% employment rate within 90 days of release from prison and a 7% recidivism rate! This is phenomenal considering 67% of prisoners released return to prison within 3 years, according to the National Institute of Justice.
Now compare these results of attending a 9-month entrepreneurship program with the results from attending four years of college. The graduates from the entrepreneurship program are not only making money, but they are also creating jobs for other people through their businesses; whereas the average college graduate amasses tens of thousands of dollars in debt before they ever make a dime, and then is dependent upon someone feeling they are qualified enough for the job and hiring them.
We believe training people to be leaders and entrepreneurs is the way to economic growth in America. And we believe by targeting the "outcasts"; the unlikely people, such as those in prison, gangs, juvenile detention centers and inner-city students with behavioral issues, that not only will they excel when provided with this leadership opportunity, but they will become the catalysts to spur entrepreneurship nationwide.
What's one thing the wealthy have in common? They exercise. "Seventy-six percent of the rich aerobically exercise 30 minutes or more every day," Thomas Corley, who spent 5 years studying the rich, reports in his book "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life."
"Cardio is not only good for the body, but it's good for the brain," he writes. "Daily aerobic exercise feeds the brain, cleans the brain, and increases your intelligence, each and every time you engage in it."
Not only is exercise a precursor for wealth and health, but it's also a way to break addictions and transform your life. Jason Moss is proof of this. At the age of 23 a series of bad choices led him to prison on gun charges. He may have only served a year in prison, but now with a felony on his record and a drinking habit that started in his teens his bouts of depression would eventually lead to him using alcohol and food as vices.
In his late thirties he would find himself trapped in an obese body of 300 lbs. and battling alcohol addiction. In 2009, after taking a train ride across the country to clear his head and analyze his life, Jason decided he wanted something different for his life. He took up running and fitness.
Now at the age of 47 Jason proves it's never too late to change. Not only has he beat his addiction, but he's in the best shape of his life.
With the same conviction that he drank he now pours into running 50-mile marathons, Spartan races and any other endurance competitions that push him to his limits. He uses running as a time to meditate and for self-reflection; something that is much needed in an all-consuming 24/7 media world.
He attributes running and the discipline it's taken to become an internationally ranked athlete that's kept him from him returning to alcohol as an outlet for stress. Working as a personal trainer and nutritionist, he's also come to the awareness of how mind, body and spirit need to be congruent in order to achieve one's true potential; which is why he now teaches others about healthy living and how self-awareness is key to personal improvement.
And he believes one of those ways to self-improvement is in taking what you've learned in life and giving back. This is why he also puts on fitness workshops in prisons and other hard to reach sectors of society, to let them know that when you learn to push your body beyond its physical limits, these disciplines transfer into others areas of your life - causing you to reach goals you never thought possible.
Jason's workshop day at Lebanon Correctional Institution. Even after running grueling drills, in which one of the guys said, "He's got the energy of a 16-year-old on steroids," they still managed to crack some jokes at the end. It was a great day all the guys will never forget!
At Malachi, we believe that in the same way that running and fitness has been able to change Jason's life, it has the ability to transform the lives of countless others who have been deemed "unreachable" by society. This is why we started "Team Epic", a running group for men at Ohio's most violent prison.
The men train and compete for different running events in which the public is invited, including friends and family of the inmates, to compete and run alongside them behind prison walls. Events such as this create a great comradery amongst the team and strengthen family relations; all contributing to lower instances of violence and recidivism, as studies have consistently found that prisoners who maintain close contact with their family members while incarcerated have better post-release outcomes and lower recidivism rates.
Scott is all smiles the day they received a donation of shoes from "Newton Running Group."
"Team Epic" running on the prison yard at Lebanon Correctional Institution.
"Through this program I’ve learned what true dedication is. I’ve learned how to trust my team to get me to the finish, but most of all I’ve learned change and open mindedness. This program has changed my way of thinking. With the help of God I now seek healthier relationships with the people of my life. But most of all when I run I do truly let all my thoughts, feelings and stresses go.” – A.C.
“Despite your magnificent, physical work ethics, it’s something that cover you because of your ability to gain the trust of different gang members as well as have us work together as one unit is very rare in this environment.” - Quentin
“Running Free isn’t just a program to me, it’s a lifestyle and a part of our Malachi foundation. "Team Epic isn’t just a team to me, they are my family. And what we have here is very life-changing.” – Lamar
“The June 24, 2017 5k event was the most cherished day of my life!....Enjoying a day in the real world with family and friends. It was a great day that I’ll treasure until the day I die. My family enjoyed themselves as much as I did. Seeing the happiness on my kids’ faces and my mom cheering me on, is all the reason I need to keep trusting in God for guidance on this path of change.” – Will
What they learn by being a part of Team Epic
Self-control and discipline
Positive outlets for stress, anger and depression
Self confidence as they achieve goals
A sense of comradery and belonging
When you combine these three elements: Media, Entrepreneurship and Team Epic into a 12-month leadership program you will have unshakeable, uncommon and unstoppable leaders who lead by honor, integrity, commitment and hard work - the core principles and foundation needed to shift a nation!
"Failure is an option. It's what you do with that failure that makes who you are. Our failure molds us. I have failed at several things in my life. What sets some of us apart, is that when we fail we can't sleep at night. It haunts us until we have our time of redemption."
— David Goggins, Former Navy Seal, "World's Toughest Athlete
To learn more about Malachi contact Julie Busby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Malachi is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.)