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



Jim Harris, Founder
Social Entrepreneur
Former Commercial Bank President/CEO
St. Louis, MO

MBA 1971, Cornell University
Corporation Finance
Ithaca, New York

B.A. 1969, Lemoyne-Owen College
Memphis, TN

"Go as far as you can see. When you get there you can see farther."

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The Problem: At-Risk Youth With No Career Guidance
Across our great nation, many high schools are "losing" far too many aspirational low-income and at-risk youth. These youth are "leaking" out of our educational pipeline because this pipeline is not designed to meet their extraordinary
needs. These pearls aspire to prosper by enhancing the lives of others. But they do not have the knowledge or skills they need. In high school, they are frustrated and disappointed victims of circumstance. Yet, they are, of course, seeking a pathway out of poverty. Yes, college completion is a requirement, but college alone it is not the pathway they seek.

No Career Counseling in High School
The courses offered in high school provide textbook knowledge, but not career knowledge. Tests are designed to measure what they have learned, not what they aspire to become in life. The student to counselor ratio is 500 to 1. So, counseling is not the solution. 

No Career Strategies
Given the competitive nature of our world, each pearl must have a strategy, a plan for career success based on his or her natural interests, talents and abilities.     


No Core Success Skill Development
By educational pipeline I mean the system that nurtures pearls through high school and into college, then through college completion and into work life, where core success skills are required to prosper. Many pearls who graduate from high school do not have
specific skills that employer's in specific industries are seeking to fill job vacancies. In all likelihood, many pearls, despite their potential, will spend their entire lives in poverty.  


Issues In College 
Many pearls graduate from high school and go on to college. 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. Still, in college, their vision of who they want to become remains blurred, fuzzy and unclear.  
The Skills Gap
At the same time, many employers are experiencing difficulties finding job candidates with the right skills. There is a critical Skills Gap in America that cuts across industries and employers, that reflects the loss of these pearls both in high school and in college.   

The Solution - A Career Club To Empower At-Risk Youth 
Pearls Who Prosper is a competition-based, co-curricular career club for pearls who have no career plans, no counseling, and no strategies for career success.    

High School Youth
Pearls in high school transition from job bound (Goal: To become a full-time employee) to college-bound (Goal: To become a full-time college student). High school principals in targeted metro areas purchase a license to host a chapter of the club. Membership in the club develops pearls into "economic value units" via a unique 4-phase college track process. This process produces knowledge, soft skills, and plans via mentoring and community support. These plans contain occupations of interest in targeted industries where opportunities exist. Sponsors invest in pearls to achieve skills, knowledge and strategy outcomes.  

College Youth
In college, pearls, via our online college chapter, receive completion pathway, degree mentoring, career advice, job readiness skills, financial guidance, internships, and work life jumpstart services.   

Work Life Youth (Up to 30 years old)
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 prosper in work life.  

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 that enables others 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 who never finished the 8th grade. She lived her life in poverty with no career aspirations. But she loved me unconditionally.

In 1965, I graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in downtown  Memphis, TN. Until 12th grade, I was job-bound. (I had no resources for college, and my mother wanted me to graduate to get a good government job.) But, 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. With a full fellowship (Graduate School of Business, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.) I went straight to graduate school. 

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 College. Thirteen years later, at 35 years old, I was President/CEO of Gateway National Bank, St. Louis, MO. I thought that was the best I could be. Not so! Later, in Atlanta, I created and led a $12 million entrepreneurial development loan fund. I went on to create a capital development consulting firm, specializing in Regulation D private offerings of securities.   

In 2001, I went into early retirement at the urging of my 92-year-old sick father who had no one to care for him. I became a full-time caregiver.

Years later as a volunteer for Bell Community Services, I became aware of some significant challenges facing our public education system. So, I thought of an encore career. My mind ran back to that high school teacher whose belief in me changed my life. So, I decided to become a youth development social entrepreneur. Yes, I am slow, but I am steady.   

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.  




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