Skip to main content

Career Club - Metro Area Chapters
Low-Income At-Risk High School Youth
Call Today: (800)640-2183

Commercial Bank
St. Louis, MO

Cornell University
MBA '71
Corporation Finance
Ithaca, NY


Hi, I'm Jim Harris, Social Entrepreneur
Learn More - Social Entrepreneurs

The Problem
Across our nation, the public education system is losing far too many aspirational low-income at-risk youth. At the same time, many industries are suffering from a skills gap. Many who graduate from high school do not have the skills specific employer's in specific industries require. These youth receive virtually no counseling in high school. In all likelihood, many of them, despite their potential, will spend their entire lives in poverty, unable to add value in the workplace, and many employers will continue to experience difficulties finding candidates with the right skills.   

But, according to Complete College America, only 5% of students complete their associate degrees within 2 years, only 19% of students complete their bachelor's degree within 4 years. So, we are losing most of these, as they leak out of our educational pipeline and into lives of poverty, crime, gangs and lost opportunity despite thousands of job opportunities.  

The Solution - A Career Club For At-Risk Youth
Pearls Who Prosper America is a co-curricular career club for at-risk aspirational youth called "pearls" who have no career plans, no counseling, and no strategies for career success. Chapters in area high schools connect pearls to community and industry resources. Chapters are hosted by principals. 

High School Youth
Club membership develops pearls into "economic value units" via unique College Tracks. These college tracks provide knowledge, soft skills, mentoring and resources that get pearls into the college program that is right for them based on career plans that identify occupations in targeted industries where opportunities exist. Sponsors invest in pearls to promote college degrees and work skills as workforce enhancements. 

College Youth
In college, pearls, via our online college chapter, receive completion pathway, degree mentoring, financial guidance, internships, and work life jumpstart services. Sponsors enable college pearls to focus on work  readiness skills. Some pearls earn the special designation Global Workforce Leader

Work Life Youth
In work life, pearls via an online work life chapter, develop personal growth plans that focus on character growth, income growth, wealth growth, occupational skills growth, relationships growth, leadership growth, and self-knowledge growth. This enables them to create an industry career ladder. 

My Value Philosophy
I believe that each pearl possesses the natural gifts and talents to prosper.

I believe that prosperity is based on personal fulfillment, which in turn is based on service to others that enables them to prosper.

I believe that each pearl has economic value based on measurable personal growth that continues through career life.    

My Story and My Career
I was born in Memphis to an unmarried mother, the daughter of  Mississippi sharecroppers. She lived her life in poverty. She never finished the 8th grade. She had no aspirations for a career. Never married. But she loved me unconditionally.

In 1965, I graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, downtown  Memphis, TN. My senior year home room teacher told me that I was "college material" and, despite no resources or family support, I believed her! Thanks to her powerful intervention, I went on to college with an academic scholarship. Four years later, I graduated from Lemoyne-Owen College with a B.S in Sociology & Economics, and with a full fellowship to the Graduate School of Business, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Two years later, as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and with an MBA in Corporation Finance, I was hired as the Executive Assistant to Odell Horton, then President of Lemoyne-Owen. By the age of 35, I was President/CEO of Gateway National Bank, St. Louis, MO. Later, in Atlanta, I led a $12 million entrepreneurial development loan fund. I went on to create a capital development consulting firm, specializing in Regulation D private offerings.    

In 2001, I went into early retirement at the urging of my 92-year-old father who had no one to care for him. Years later as a volunteer for Bell Community Services, I became aware of some significant challenges facing our public education system. This caused me to consider an encore career as a social entrepreneur.  

I have experienced a wonderful, fulfilling career that would not have happened without that high school teacher intervention in my life. Today, I often think of that at-risk high school student with no direction, and my home room teacher who saw something valuable in me - and transformed my life.  

Email Me

Click Above
to learn more about my consulting firm