The Jerry Clark FOUNDATION ! – Jerry Clark
David Laroche: Hello Achievers. Today is my last day in the United States. Tomorrow I come back to
France. I’m with my last guest, awesome guest, and he built the Jerry Clark Foundation.
He is Jerry Clark and he will answer my questions about foundation, about youth. You
will love this interview and he is with me to answer my questions.
Jerry Clark: Hey David. How are you? Welcome to the United States.
David Laroche: Yes. I just come back to France tomorrow.
Jerry Clark: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. I know you’re doing a lot of great things
around the world and I appreciate you come to the United States and having me here. It
means a lot. For me to come to L.A. and meet you out here it’s great.
David Laroche: It’s great also for me because we’re doing interviews with different people and it’s great
to have someone who built a foundation. You are the first one. We will interview more
people who are building foundations.
Jerry Clark: Yes, it’s a lot of work, David, but it pays off. It means a lot the work that I put in, so I’m
very happy and excited that my foundation is growing the way it is.
David Laroche: This is my first question. What is your foundation and why did you build that?
Jerry Clark: The Jerry Clark Foundation was started years ago. A few years ago I started it because,
David, I saw a void and I saw a need in the community, especially in young males lacking
the sense of discernment, lacking a sense of role models per se, mentoring.
With that being said, with me coming up from Chicago—I grew up seeing a lot of young
males, in particular, not having that person that they can go to. So what I wanted to do
is know that just like music is universal and it breaks barriers, so does sports and
athletics. So what I wanted to do is use athletics, specifically a sport like baseball, to
help these young males to achieve high academic status in the classroom. Because if
they want to compete on a global scale academic wise, schooling, college, they have to
achieve high in the classroom because it doesn’t matter, nothing else matters.
So I wanted to use that as a platform to achieve higher academic status and along with
that I have a lot of young men that I mentor. I actually went to Harvard University and
spoke to some at risk youth there.
The foundation has been growing bigger than I can ever have thought, David, and I’m
very excited. So we’re five years strong. I’m mainly in the Atlanta area, but we’re
starting to branch out. But I definitely, I saw a void, David, and there still is and it’s
disheartening when I go to speak to schools in the community and I see that a lot of
these young males, especially African American males, they have to be totally
reprogrammed. But before we do that, we have to deprogram them and that’s the hard
part. And that’s where my foundation comes in and we try to do as much as we can.
David Laroche: How do you deprogram someone?
Jerry Clark: A lot of times I’d say it starts with a strong—and you’re going to hit the slide—it starts
with a strong male figure—whether a father, whether an uncle, whether a grandfather,
whether a mentor. I know from my personal experiences. I grew up with my father, both
my parents, but I also had a mentor and I know how important a mentor is, a mentor
was in helping molding me into the person that I am.
So it’s very important to have that and there are so many people, so many youth in the
community that don’t have anyone, they don’t have anybody that they can go to. And
that’s the issue that we have to confront. And also, different things like the dropout
rating, back to the whole education—I’m going to stress education a lot—the dropout
rate is extremely high. That’s another thing that’s very disheartening to me when I go
around and speak.
It’s just the emphasis that’s put on education but the youth they don’t consider to be as
important anymore. And that’s one thing as far as reprogramming them. It’s what we’re
going to have to do, is reprogram to let them know that the education is the number
one priority, David, number one. But the deprogramming first, I’m up for the task. I’m
up for it. It’s going to be hard but I’m up for it.
I hear a lot of people—we can easily sit back and blame music, entertainment, the
movies, different things like that, but is bigger than that. Of course that does have some
type of influence. I hear a lot of people around blaming rap music for example. Is rap
music very influential? Yes, it is. Is it the only thing? No. There are a lot of other things
aside: going back to the family structure breakdown. That’s really where it starts: with
the family structure breaking down. That’s where it starts. And that goes back to what I
was saying with the male in the family. You need one man to step up and I’m up to the
task of trying to be one of those males to influence as many young males as I can.
David Laroche: That’s my next question. Let’s imagine that you can speak to youth just behind the
camera, what could be your message? If you can speak directly to someone, to a young
man or a young woman, what would you like to say?
Jerry Clark: Surround yourself by good people that have you in their best interest because there’s an
old saying that you will be what you see. A lot of youth what they see they don’t want to
be and we don’t want them to be that either. But surround yourself with good people
and surround yourself that have you in their best interest. That means a lot about your
David Laroche: What do you suggest for a key for a youth that was born in the suburbs, maybe in the…
Jerry Clark: Bad area?
David Laroche: Bad area. How he can change his associations? Because he knows only that. For his
brain maybe it’s the best. If I belong to—
Jerry Clark: So, instead of the suburbs, let’s use the example of the inner city where it’s not a thing
as they’re gone, they’re not so nice. They have a lot of drug dealing going on, a lot of
different things, bad things happening in the community.
So what you’re asking is how would that young person, that young girl or that young boy
in that environment how do they see an outlet to get out? And that’s one thing that I’ve
notice when I speak to the youth in those situations, it seems like it’s hopeless for them
and that’s what hurts me. There’s not a sense of hope.
But back to your question, myself and all those around that are into mentoring and
helping the community, we have to let them know that there is hope. And I’m not trying
to sound corny or clichés but there is hope for them. It’s hard because they don’t see
anything everywhere they turn. There’s negativity. You think about that. If you come up
and all you see is negativity, what would make you feel that there is hope if there’s not
positivity around? Your dad’s locked up, your mom’s on drugs, you go to school and
your teachers don’t care.
That’s why we have to step up myself and others in the community to help these
individuals realize that there is hope because there are so many young people out there
that are hopeless. And it’s sad, David, it hurts.
David Laroche: I would like to say you something because I admire a lot of people like you. You have the
courage to build the foundation.
Jerry Clark: Thank you.
David Laroche: It’s in one of my goals. I’m not ready now to do that because I’m building my company, I
prefer to focus on that.
Jerry Clark: You’re doing a great job, David. Great job! I want to commend you and I know you’re
doing a very good job and you’re young.
David Laroche: Thank you.
Jerry Clark: I wish when I was your age that I would’ve had the mindset that you have. I think the
Jerry Clark Foundation would be bigger, but I’m still working.
David Laroche: I would love to know two things. Because when you built the company you will have
money, you will get some money to what you’re doing. Why did you choose a
foundation and not to build for example something that you can earn money?
Jerry Clark: When I was raised my parents always instilled in my and my siblings the need to give
back, the need to help. And I always said that if I ever got in a situation where I could
help more than just the regular going down in the community and buy them Christmas
gifts for Christmas or doing different things on Thanksgiving, you know—I know on
France you don’t have Thanksgiving, but doing different things. I wanted to take it to a
bigger scale and I always said if I ever got not just the money, not just financially, but if I
ever have the resources and the context to be able to do something like this then I
would do it.
And I’m going to tell you a quick story. A lot of people I haven’t told that story. It really
helped spearhead me starting the Jerry Clark Foundation. It has nothing to do with the
youth and has nothing to do with athletics.
Back when Hurricane Katrina happened, there was a family that lost everything, which is
common. A lot of families lost everything. I stepped up and I took care of this family for
six months. I saw how much that impacted their lives and it impacted my life too. It was
a good feeling just to be able to do something to help. But that really, really
spearheaded me and really pushed me into seeing that I have to do more. That was just
one family, David, that was one family. They lost everything. They moved to Atlanta and
they didn’t have anything. I got them an apartment. I bought them food. I helped them
out with their bills for six months, maybe even eight, but it was something I felt like I
had to do. I had the resources to do it and I had to do it.
So I took that same mindset and I turned that into the Jerry Clark Foundation and I said,
“As much as I go around the schools, as much as I’m around youth, I have to help.”
David, I have to help. I can't sit back and I can't watch the youth—that’s the next
generation, that’s our future—and to see it, a lot of youth falling by the wayside I can't
sit back and let that happen. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do it.
So, different things motivated me to do different. Different people they have different
motivational things, and that was one of mine—just one. But my parents always, always
instilled in us, “Give back. Help you your community. Help the next person who might
not have as much as you.” It started at home for me.
David Laroche: I have a question for you because I have a kind of, not challenge, but a choice to take.
There are a lot of foundations in this world for children. My goal is to have children to
grow and I’d love to build it, but my challenge is do I have to belong to something
existing or building my foundation? Do you understand my question? For example there
is a foundation called “Free the Children” and I love—
Jerry Clark: It’s in France?
David Laroche: No.
Jerry Clark: Oh, worldwide. “Free the Children”. Okay.
David Laroche: In “Free the Children” the goal is to help children help other children. It’s great. The
mission is great. I love that, but I’d love to build…
Jerry Clark: Build your own, David.
David Laroche: My challenge is it’s maybe my ego. What is your opinion?
Jerry Clark: Put the ego to the side. If you want to start off by helping that foundation, that
organization, that’s great, but at the same time, while you’re helping that
organization—you’re young, you’re smart. I did a lot of research on you and you’re very,
very smart. So if you have it in your heart to help that organization, at the same time
build your own legacy. Start building your own and you’ll be doing the same thing and
it’ll still be rewarding because you’ll still be helping. You’d still be helping.
But I recommend that if you do get involved with that organization, that’s fine, that’s
great, but start your own because you already have a great legacy that you started.
That’s why you’re here now. But start your own and start building it, building it up. And
one day you’ll have kids and you can pass that legacy on to your kids.
But I would recommend to you—you’re young, very bright, energetic, and you’re a goal-
getter—start your own, start building it. Start off small. And you have a lot of resources
as far as the people you can touch and you can always depend on me. Whatever you
need from me I’m there for you. I’m there for you. But create your own legacy and
you’re going to be helping. If it’s in your heart to help, you’re going to be okay. You’ll be
good, David. You will!
David Laroche: Thank you very much.
Jerry Clark: No problem.
David Laroche: And I would like to know how it works to build the foundations? How do you that? I
don’t know at all how it works.
Jerry Clark: It’s a lot of work, a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
David Laroche: If you had to start another foundation, what you will do differently?
Jerry Clark: I would probably bring in more people that are professionals at what they do. When I
started I had a goal, I had a dream.
David Laroche: What was the goal?
Jerry Clark: To help youth… What we’ve been talking about. To just to help and to create something
that will help kids, that help the youth get out of this way or trend that they were in and
they’re technically and mentally. So with that I said, “I want to jump out here and I’m
going to start this foundation.”
I had some people that were very knowledgeable and very good at what they did, but I
would probably, if I had to do something different I would bring in a few more people
that were pros at what they do. Now, I do have some great people in my corner that
really helps my foundation, but I would probably bring in a few more people that can
help because we’re not—as far as raising funds—we don’t have a lot of people cutting
us checks. It’s really pretty much off my relationships of people I know.
Somebody like yourself you can go out and get a lot of money, a lot of funding because
we’re a non-profit. That’s really what is about. If you want to get out, if you want to do a
lot of things to help young males, young females, you’ve got to have the funding no
If I had to do one thing different I would probably get a few more—but don’t get me
wrong, I love the circle of people that I have that is working with me, from accountants
to lawyers, just people that want to be in a community and want to help, to just have it
in their hearts to help. But if I had to do one thing different I definitely would bring in
more people that were professionals at what they do.
With that being said, you probably are like, “Professionals, what do you mean?” People
that have worked as fundraisers, people that that’s what they do because now,
everything that I do within the foundation is pretty much off my relationships. And the
good thing is that I have some great relationships and I have people that have giving
hearts and they definitely help the foundation. They definitely do. We don’t have a lot
of funding but we do what we can do. I do what I can. And I’m happy to say at this point
with the Jerry Clark Foundation I’m very excited with where we’re going. Very excited,
David Laroche: What is your next big goal about this foundation? If everything is possible, what would
you build in the next year?
Jerry Clark: I want to branch out outside of Atlanta because I know there are a lot of people that
have similar programs in different cities and in different countries. Hopefully I’ll be
partnering with you, with your foundation, what you’re doing, David, and some of the
things you’re doing over in France and in Europe. But I want to because as foundations
we’re all brothers and sisters, we’re all connected, we’re all together.
A lot of people look at us like, “Well, you’re doing that and you’re doing this.” No, we all
have one goal and that’s to help whoever—whatever it is our goal is for our foundation.
If I find another foundation that’s similar, that have similar goals that we have, I want to
do some things with them—whether they’re in Georgia, whether they’re in California,
Texas, France, Japan, Australia, Nigeria—wherever it is we want to start building and
start branching out and doing these things on a bigger scale.
Now I’m just in Atlanta, I’m just in the Atlanta area. But I had to start somewhere, and
now that it’s growing and building I want to branch out and it’s time to go
nationwide—and even worldwide, David. You’re going to help me go worldwide right?
Can you promise me that?
David Laroche: Yes!
Jerry Clark: You promise?
David Laroche: Yes! You will touch France. So it’s worldwide.
Jerry Clark: So I at least know that me and you can do some work in France.
David Laroche: Yes. You know the video will be seen everywhere so…
Jerry Clark: Right. We’re going to be worldwide. Worldwide Jerry Clark Foundation. We’re going to
build it from Atlanta and this guy’s going to help me. He promised me. We’re going to
shake on and we’re going to do some things in France, in Paris, and in the whole
And then you’re going to come to Atlanta and you’re going to see our world and we’re
going to go around it, you know, while you’re building your foundation. Whatever you
David Laroche: Great.
Jerry Clark: Really.
David Laroche: My last question is, according to you what would be the key factors of running a
Jerry Clark: The key factor of running a foundation? Have a goal in mind as far as your foundation.
Where do you want to go? Who do you want to help? Who do you want to assist? What
is your goal? What is your foundation?
Know what your mission is. We have a mission statement. Different foundations have a
mission statement, companies have a mission statement. Go in knowing what your
mission is. Who you’re going to help? What is your goal? Is your goal to help young
females staying away from teen pregnancy? To get into college? To help young males? Is
it to help older people? Is it to help war veterans? Know what your mission is and go
after it. Go all the way 100 mi/hr, 200 km/hr. I forgot you use another metric system!
But once you figure out what your goal is, go all the way. Go at it like there’s no
tomorrow, but always know what your mission and who are you going to help and how
are you going to help.
And once again, surround yourself by some people that are willing and able to help and
to assist and have the same mindset to say, “You know what? I’m going to help David. I
want to help Jerry Clark because the mission that they have is something that touches
them also.” And when you have people around you like that you can't fail. You can't fail.
David Laroche: Did you have sometimes some struggles and how did you overcome it and how did you
keep your faith?
Jerry Clark: It’s interesting, David. I say life is like an elevator. It goes up and down. When it’s up it’s
great. When it’s down, that’s the challenges of life on how we handle it. Having a good
support system helps.
I have three wonderful children that I look at every day and that motivates me, that’s
my motivation. That drives me when I look at them and I know the potential that they
have. When that elevator comes, when it’s down, that’s what keeps me going. That’s
what keeps my engine running. That’s what keeps me so intense and so focused. And
then I look at my parents at what they went through. They’re both still alive. I’m grateful
for that. That’s when the days are dark, when they are going to be dark days—I know
you’re young and you might’ve had some, I don’t know—but I’m a little older, just a
little bit, and that elevator when it’s down if you’re a spiritual person it is going to touch
your spirituality and the type of person that you are. And I definitely have been tested
and I’m glad that I’m still able to be here now today through the ups and downs.
When you’re going through the downs it’s not a good feeling. But if anyone’s out here
listening, when you’re down, go get in contact with your spirituality and don’t be afraid
to pray and don’t be afraid to go talk to people, to good people. They really have your
back. You know that they have your back and they’ll do anything to help you. Having a
great support system is good. I know there are a lot of people that don’t have great
support systems, but fortunately I have had great support. But like I said, my three
children they motivate me.
David Laroche: Great.
Jerry Clark: They motivate me. I hope I answered your question.
David Laroche: Yes, you did.
Jerry Clark: Okay.
David Laroche: Thank you very much. It was great!
Jerry Clark: Thank you! I really appreciate it.