A youth-focused organization that is working toward opening a community center is selling hats in the Bridge Street Market.
Deandre Jones, founder and CEO of Grand Rapids-based Jump Ahead L3C — a hybrid for-profit/nonprofit organization known as a low-profit limited liability company (L3C) — last week began selling baseball caps with the Jump Ahead logo on them at the Bridge Street Market, 405 Seward Ave. NW on Grand Rapids’ West Side.
The hats retail for $30 and are made by Portland, Oregon-based Findlay Hats using Jones’ design.
Jones founded Jump Ahead L3C in 2018 and subsequently won a $10,000 grant from a city of Grand Rapids SAFE Task Force Pitch Night to create a pilot program designed to keep youths out of trouble by giving them $450 stipends to complete service-learning projects and attend workshops, events and activity days.
After the first cohort ended in August 2018, in which 10 youths were served, Jones has been working on fleshing out plans to develop a community center that would offer arts and crafts, screen printing, esports programs, workshops, construction classes, yoga, music, basketball and other activities.
He has not yet set a fundraising goal and said for the time being, profits from the sale of the hats will go to support a few nonprofits he is in talks with, possibly including Urban Core Collective, Steepletown Neighborhood Services and the West Michigan Mental Health Foundation/be nice.
“I’m just showing my humanitarian spirit because I know there are a lot of people going through mental strain right now,” Jones said.
He said eventually if he can establish a community center, his goal will be to use it to develop better infrastructure for all people but especially underserved populations.
“I definitely want to provide people of color more opportunities,” he said.
“One of my goals in this is to inspire young entrepreneurs and people from all walks of life that if you work extremely hard and you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything and do it in a positive way.”
More information about Jump Ahead L3C is at jumpedahead.com.