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This Black History Month, we honor the GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. SEE ALL OUR GAME CHANGERS HERE.

Chris Wilson

Place of Residence: Baltimore

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Why He’s a Game Changer: Wilson, a university student and an employee of Greater Homewood Community Corporation, started the Barclay Business School to help local entrepreneurs improve their businesses and to provide desperately needed employment.

While doing outreach, Wilson noticed a problem.

“A lot of people weren’t able to attain jobs or were falling out of the pipeline,” Wilson said.

And then he looked around the neighborhood and saw a handful of entrepreneurs that needed help. That’s when Wilson came up with the idea to connect the two groups. What if the unemployed and underemployed were able to help the entrepreneurs scale up their businesses?

“A lot of these local entrepreneurs needed things to develop their website, maybe consulting or things like how to secure contracts,” said Wilson.

In reaction, Wilson developed a social entrepreneur program and created a coalition of people to help business owners grow their businesses.

“Maybe everyone doesn’t want to start their own business, but they want to develop the skills to get a job,” said Wilson.

During a 12-week program, participants learn the skills needed to help grow a business. For example, a man with an upholstery business was helped to create an assembly line process that he could use to increase his business. The potential employees will be people from the neighborhood in need of work, and the more contracts the man acquires, the more people he can hire.

“By creating a new model that addresses the needs of Baltimore city’s large low-skilled population, [we] will not only serve as a benefit to businesses but to the community as well,” Wilson told the Grio. “The entrepreneurs also have an incentive because we work closely with them to develop their business models and access resources.”

For this great idea, Wilson, studying for a second Bachelor’s degree in business administration, was recognized by the Knight Foundation and Open Society Foundations as a part of its “Black Male Engagement Program.

It’s an idea that needs to spread across the country: It’s a breath of fresh air to see how chronic problems, such as unemployment, underemployment, and the struggles to be an entrepreneur, can be tackled if groups of people with like interests are connected.

“A lot of times, the solution to the problem is right there,” said Wilson. “This is a community that is helping itself.”

Check out Wilson talk more about his innovative project below:

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