CEO of Empowr, Adrian Devezin, was formerly earning a minimum wage at Mcdonald’s but now earns a six-figure salary as a programmer.
In an interview with Authority Magazine, the young entrepreneur explained how his father’s job in the military caused them to often travel around the world while he was growing up; that was how he came to know and understand the power of community and people.
He struggled in the traditional education system, experienced racism, and received no support or encouragement from most of his teachers. He disclosed that he always felt below average and felt like giving up all the time. He eventually dropped out of college and found work as an employee in retail; however, he woke up one day, yearning for more.
He began teaching himself Android development and did that simultaneously with a call center job at the time, creating his first app – a Bitcoin faucet after some time. It earned a title as the top finance app of the month, although it was taken down by hackers not long after.
Devezin recounted moving back to Atlanta from Florida to live with his family after he lost his job and apartment. He started one year as a McDonald’s employee and found himself making $85,000 as a software developer at a health tech company by the end of that same year. According to him, this was his first career.
The young leader mentioned that he was hired by Google, Facebook, and other companies for his expertise, though he noticed that he was most often the only Black person around. He wanted to bring a change to that system because he was able to make it without a college degree or network. He wanted to transfer his knowledge to every student who felt like him, which led to the birth of Empowr.
Fueled by his experience, Devezin established the non-profit organization, Empowr, to “be the vanguard for communities by empowering one another with knowledge, resources, and opportunity,” according to Empowr.
He explained that the program is basically breaking down the many limitations Black people face, and is exchanging that by putting in its place a school-to-career system. According to Devezin, the program enables children in high school to spend their four years studying a skill that will allow them to earn almost six-figure salaries by the time they turn 18.
Through research, he learned that over 43% of Black students did not have access to math and science classes to prepare them for college, according to Black Enterprise. He then partnered and came together with recruitment networks and organizations to make sure his students would have a job by the end of their courses. These recruiters are able to evaluate the students before they graduate, as well as teach them skills like writing CVs and preparing them for interviews.
For his program, Devezin only accepts students who are motivated and solution thinkers no matter their GPA levels. Sharing his commitment to the program, Devezin made note of a time when he brought the class to the hospital because it was the days after his newborn was birthed and he had not canceled the class previously.
He also disclosed that he had to come up with the money for the organization by himself after receiving thousands of ‘No’ after applying for grants. He admits that this was one of the most difficult experiences when starting the organization. However, he pulled through and got to where he is now.
“To control our perception in the media, we as a people must support Black publishers. While there are a few similar news apps out there, none make it simple to support only Black-owned publishers. Until we can own the media, we cannot control our perception by the media, ” Devezin explained.