Community//

Gerald Williams of Excite All-Stars: “Develop multiple streams of income for your organization”

Develop multiple streams of income for your organization. Resource Dependence Theory is based on the premise that the most important goal of an organization is sustainability and that in order to sustain in the 21st Century, under increased scrutiny and increased competition for resources, sustainability is contingent on developing diversified streams of income and developing […]

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Develop multiple streams of income for your organization. Resource Dependence Theory is based on the premise that the most important goal of an organization is sustainability and that in order to sustain in the 21st Century, under increased scrutiny and increased competition for resources, sustainability is contingent on developing diversified streams of income and developing as many internal and external stakeholders as an organization can manage to pursue these relationships and resources. This is important because it allows for a continuation of services even when the economy or other factor closes one source of revenue.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gerald Williams.

Humanitarian, business leader, and social entrepreneur, Gerald Williams is the co-founder of Excite All-Stars — a valued New Orleans non-profit that teaches youth about the arts, academics and athletics while developing leadership skills for long-term success.

For nearly 14 years, Gerald and his wife Penny have created an innovative social enterprise that provides year-round programs that have made a positive impact on over 4,500 families to date, empowering youth to change the world, one person at a time.

As the co-founder of Excite All-Stars, Gerald has made monumental contributions to the New Orleans community, and his strategic leadership and dedication to its development efforts have laid a clear path for the organization to continue making a positive difference in the lives of New Orleans youth for years to come.


Thank you so much for doing this with us. Before we begin our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?

Excite All-Stars was born in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In 2008, as new homes were being built and businesses were still slowly coming back, Gerald Williams and his wife Penny launched Excite All Stars in New Orleans, a nonprofit that teaches students about the arts, academics and athletics while developing leadership skills for long-term success.

At first, Excite All-Stars focused on social services, helping children from K-12 cope with the emotional distress and trauma that came from being surrounded by storm damage for so long. As the organization evolved, it expanded its programming to include sports, arts and academics and has grown to serve nearly 5,000 families with year-round programming to date teaching youth from all walks of life that they are valuable and have value, no matter the challenges they may face. Excite All-Stars has received corporate funding from national partners including Nike, Boeing, Tegna, to name a few, and has grown into a valued New Orleans resource.

Can you tell us the story behind why you decided to start your nonprofit?

Excite All Stars began as a refuge for kids in the face of adversity. What started as a natural reaction to one of America’s worst natural disasters, quickly evolved into a 10-week summer camp. Today, Excite All Stars has emerged as a year-round resource that connects New Orleans kids with talented and caring staff through comprehensive, integrated programs in academics, the arts, athletics, leadership and female empowerment.

Over the last 14 years, we’ve become a family where all are welcome and embraced for exactly who they are. Our kids build life-long relationships with our coaches and mentors — and each other. This nurturing community gives kids the support and confidence they need to not just excel, but become All Stars in life.

Can you describe how you or your organization aims to make a significant social impact?

Excite All Stars is a non-profit organization that empowers kids to become leaders that change the world. We do this by providing a stable support system, exposure to all-in-one All Star experiences in leadership, academics, the arts & athletics and trailblazing thinking that teaches kids to create change in their community.

For the past 14 years, Excite All Stars has not just been a source of positive energy for New Orleans kids, but for many, a safe haven from drugs, violence and crime.

Without saying any names, can you share a story about an individual who was helped by your idea so far?

For the protection of our All Star, I will call him Joe. Joe has been with EAS for 9 years. He started as a camper and caught everyone’s attention with his calm demeanor and strong leadership in the teen entrepreneur program. He became an assistant coach in high school and served as a head Coach during our EAS Summer Camp the last 2 years.

This All Star is currently attending Xavier University pre-med on a full scholarship! He embodies the attributes of what it means to be an All Star. “Leading the Way, it’s in his DNA”

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

One thing that the community can do to address the inequities faced by youth in our community is to support youth through education & employment opportunities. This can be done through schools, vocational training, and workforce development partnerships, such as the ones we have with schools providing summer internships for high school students.

Another thing society can do is provide leadership roles for youth through providing positions of power to set priorities for programs, design solutions, implement strategies, and participate in local and national advocacy. We provide a pathway for this through our Leadership Academy for teens, ages 15–18.

A third way that the community can help address the root of inequities is to provide more mentoring opportunities for youth. Mentoring has numerous benefits. It helps prevent harmful habits. Youth with a mentor are 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking than other people their age. It has social benefits. If they have a mentor, students facing an opportunity gap are 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or other extracurricular activities. It’s good for mental health. Mentoring has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression.

It has interpersonal benefits. Mentoring promotes positive attitudes toward other people in society. It helps reduce antisocial (delinquent) behavior. Also, mentored youth tend to have better relationships with their parents, and communicate better with them. Statistically, youth who have had a mentor are also 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I believe that leadership is the ability to see things the way they should be and the willingness to take the steps and risks to get there. This would be classified as visionary leadership. I think that this type of leadership is appropriate for the season that we are in as a nation that requires leaders to have courage to make radical changes across multiple industries and across our nation.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 things a person should know before they decide to start a non profit”. Please share a story or example for each.

KNOW YOUR WHY! Why are you doing this? Who else is doing it? Why now? One of the main reasons nonprofits fail to make impact is due to mission drift.It is important to have a clearly defined mission and clarity on the issues that you are committed to addressing. Having these things clearly spelled out allows an organization to accurately direct resources for maximum impact.

Lay a solid foundation: Put your infrastructure in place early. Establish your board of directors, write your strategic plan-including your mission statement, file your legal paperwork. Your strategic plan will guide your board of directors and keep your team on mission. It is important that you have a thorough board orientation so that your board is fully engaged to support your team and the mission.

Two are better than one! Collaboration is vital for collective impact. Having gone through a number of natural disasters and a global pandemic, we have learned the power of community and collaboration. Don’t try to go it alone. One way we did this was by joining a coalition of sports-based youth development organizations in our community. We are better together.

Create a culture of philanthropy. A culture of philanthropy means everyone is willing to participate. It starts with board members, all staff (not only administrative staff), clients and volunteers understanding that fundraising is fundamental to the success of the organization. This means everyone who works for and cares about your mission is working toward the goal of raising funds. Everyone must feel a sense of responsibility for fundraising.

Develop multiple streams of income for your organization. Resource Dependence Theory is based on the premise that the most important goal of an organization is sustainability and that in order to sustain in the 21st Century, under increased scrutiny and increased competition for resources, sustainability is contingent on developing diversified streams of income and developing as many internal and external stakeholders as an organization can manage to pursue these relationships and resources. This is important because it allows for a continuation of services even when the economy or other factor closes one source of revenue.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your non-profit? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Anyone passionate about developing future leaders and mentorship.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson” Quote? How is that relevant to you in your life?

“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” — Mae Jemison.

This quote inspires me to continue to encourage our young people to dream bigger dreams and help them to see that they can be the answer. When faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges after hurricane Katrina, we had to re-imagine our future and how we could help in the recovery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to re-imagine how to deliver services to meet the needs of our community while keeping everyone safe and healthy.

How can our readers follow you online?

Visit our website at exciteallstars.org or follow us on Instagram @Excite_all_stars

or Facebook @exciteallstars

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your mission.

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