A Man With A Plan

June 20, 2017
Story By Lorne Boutte
Photos By CLA_Pro

Who is Godfrey Phoenix? Well, he’s a recent graduate of Perspectives High School of Technology, and he’s also recently been awarded the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) for his business plan at their Chicago competition. Godfrey is planning to open a community city of the South Side of Chicago that will be a safe place for youth to learn and grow. He calls this place Phoenix Haven. Most of all, he’s a Chicago kid who sees the need for change and has the vision to work towards accomplishing his goal of a safer environment for our youth.

Lorne Boutte: How has growing up in South Shore molded you into the young man you are today?

Godfrey Phoenix: What molded me the most to be the person that I am right now is my memories of my childhood friends. I grew up with a lot of them. Even the guy I mentioned in my business plan as my younger brother, although we aren’t actually related, I’ve known him since I was 5 years old. 10 years later, at the age of 15, he was gone. I had to see a lot of this same stuff throughout my childhood.

It made me want to go a different route from the gang bangers. While I understand why they live that life, losing my friend made me want to go another route. That’s what Phoenix Haven is all about. I think about what Deon Gilbert’s life would have been if a community center was in my neighborhood.

LB: What opportunities do kids need today? Do you think learning skills and trades would make career paths easier?

GP: I believe awareness regarding careers should be brought into a child’s life at an earlier age. Being brought up and learning about college or a trade helps young people figure out what it is they want to pursue. In fact, youth should learn at what age you can begin working. If I knew I could work a lot sooner, I would’ve been working. Learning job skills is something that the youth need. Once I started working, it taught me that if I put the work in, I could have something of my own too.

LB: How does your plan for outreach differ from what has already been done?

GP: I’ve had friends who haven’t participated in after school programs because they don’t target what they are into. I have a program that I believe for youth who are involved in dangerous activities would come and be a part of because it targets their interest. Think about it, if I were able to target the kids doing what they’re supposed to do, as well as the kids out there shooting the guns? Most gang members are youth. If I can get them off the street, you’ll see a drop in the crime rate in Chicago.

A lot of kids don’t have access to activities due to cost. Phoenix Haven will have cost-free activities for youth to be a part of and keep them safe.

LB: How have the 26 principles on A Disciplined Life® helped you become who you are today?

GP: If you follow the 26 principles you will have a successful life. Seek Wisdom – that’s a powerful statement within itself. Seeking wisdom is something I strive to do every day.

What I struggle with is Using Your Time Wisely. I would be outside hanging out instead of focusing on my work. When I finally started to practice using my time wisely, my grades – they went up. Senior year I was able to maintain a 3.0 in everything.

Communicating Effectively. That’s something I’ve struggled with since I was younger. Now that I communicate better, I’ve built bonds with people that have been very beneficial to me. Those 26 principles have been an important factor into the person I am and where I’m going in life. I appreciate that I was able to be a part of a system such as that.

LB: Who are the people who helped you stay on track and practice those principles? Do you plan to incorporate something similar into your plan?

GP: A few people have played a huge role in my life. In the earlier years, Ms. Porter stayed on me. It was never just a I’m doing my job thing. I can tell it was authentic. She is very important.

Ms. Scullark is almost like another mother to me. She really makes sure I stay on the right path.

I would definitely say I met a teacher this year that open my eyes to a lot of things in the world. Through discussion with him, I thought about things that I never thought of before. Whether it be social justice issues or the things happening in neighborhoods, he really understands the ways of people and their viewpoints. I hope to keep in contact with Mr. Murphy.

LB: Can you tell me more about NFTE and the experience you’re receiving through the program?

GP: NFTE is an organization that teaches the youth about entrepreneurial skills. Throughout your junior and senior year, you begin gradually working on your project making it better for competition time.

When I first made it through the first 36 at Perspectives, I was excited – excited to be acknowledged. I was so motivated by it because of what I’m standing for. When I kept advancing and made it out of Perspectives to compete with students all over Chicago, it was a great experience for me. I know what I’m speaking for is bigger than me, so I had to make it happen.

Talking in front of a huge crowd had me nervous at first. It taught me that confidence is the key. When your confidence is high, no one can really beat you. As long as you have confidence, you’re set.

There are a lot of doors that I won’t let close – Perspectives and NFTE have absolutely played a big role in what’s happening and what’s to come.