When Chick-fil-A staff member Chris McDade attended a Chick-fil-A Foundation volunteer day last fall at M.R. Hollis Innovation Academy on Atlanta's Westside, he was introduced to a 6th grader named Arthur Ward. School administrators wanted Arthur to have a mentor, specifically a positive male role model.
Chris—an active volunteer with Chick-fil-A and a graduate of Morehouse College (located just down the street from Hollis)—jumped at the opportunity.
But, he had an idea: What if he was able to make a deeper impact by recruiting some of his fellow African-American male staff members at Chick-fil-A, and they created a full mentorship program for Hollis’ young men.
Chris McDade, Chick-fil-A staff member and founder of Hollis Kingz STEAM partnership
Hollis administrators loved it. A program for male students called Hollis Kingz was already in place, so Chris and his Chick-fil-A mentors joined forces and added a STEAM—science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math—component to round out the mentorship program.
“Positive male role models can have such a profound impact on the lives of young men, which is why this mentorship program is so important for our students,” says Dr. Diamond Jack, principal of Hollis. “Our young men have so much potential, and having access to such great examples of what they can ultimately become is absolutely priceless.”
Hollis Kingz, established 2017
Hollis Kingz officially kicked off Wednesday, February 28, at the new Chick-fil-A Vine City. Chris, along with Chick-fil-A staff members Patrick Davis, Omari Henderson and Brandon Woods and Chick-fil-A Operator Quincy Springs, hosted 25 young men at the restaurant to welcome them to the program.
“We want to connect you with leaders doing great things in your own community,” Chris told the students. “We’re also here to connect you with people who are working in the STEAM profession, and take you to locations across Atlanta so you can see the possibilities for STEAM opportunities throughout the city.”
Quincy, local resident and former manager of the Wal-Mart next door, shared his story with the young men—how through hard work and putting his mind to a dream, he was able to get to the point he is today and have his very own restaurant.
Quincy Springs, Chick-fil-A Vine City Operator, shares his success story with the students
“Hearing from Mr. Springs was a great experience,” Arthur said. “It’s something that will really help us in life. I’m excited about learning more about the structure of Chick-Fil-A, and what it took to build it and own it.”
Patrick, Omari and Brandon also spoke to the boys, providing insights into what they do and how they got there. Additional Chick-fil-A staff Hollis Kingz mentors include Ben Boiling, CJ Byrd, Jeff Davis, Derrick Hooks, Darryl Lesure, and Quenon Smith.
“My hope is that the students will take what they learn and apply it in all aspects of their lives—beyond the walls of our school,” says Dr. Jack. “I want them to always seek opportunities for growth, and to know that anything they aspire to is possible.”
Check out more pictures from the kick-off event below, and stay tuned as we follow Hollis Kingz through their nine-month experience! To learn more about our commitment to Hollis and the Westside, click here.