Glen Mourning is a Danbury native who wanted to inspire and empower disenfranchised minority youth between 6-14 years of age.
The educator said he struggled to find positive roles influences in his community during his childhood.
"There was not too many positive role models in general," said Mourning. "I met my father at 18 and most of my uncles were locked up."
The small percentage of role models didn't stop Mourning from striving for greatness. Mourning developed a strong work ethic and persisted, even earning a football scholarship at UConn. He mentioned that when his chances of becoming a professional athlete diminished, he turned to education and discovered a need for representation.
"There was a stigma that some of our black boys and even girls didn't want to read," said Mourning. "I argued the difference between them not having quality material that represented themselves."
Hence, the educator developed "The Crunchy Life Education Series," a nationwide tour to promote literacy with his own literature specifically targeting disenfranchised youth.
"It was my goal to make sure these kids were accessing rich literature and understand some dope principles," said Mourning. "In terms of language acquisition and character development."
Dr. Simon Obas is the principal at Achievement First Amistad High School and grew up with Mourning.
"In this day in age, children need to see people of color in leadership positions," said Obas. "When students see individuals that look like them, they perform better in schools and so we have to change the narrative for our children, for our families, and for our communities."
The Crunchy Life Series also encompasses a series of other principals like P.R.I.C.E.
"I teach students to be persistent, have responsibility doing things in life with integrity, commitment, and enthusiasm," said Mourning. "We try to teach students that when they combine those key ingredients together, there's nothing in this world that you can't accomplish."
The second component of the Crunchy Life Series includes "Care More than Us: The Young People's Guide to Success" student workbook.
All of the literature comes fully equipped with teacher/parent-friendly lesson plans and "no-prep" lessons and activities.
Mourning is hosting virtual writing classes for students. If you would like to register, click here.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated what town Mourning is from. The above version has corrected that error to note that he is from Danbury.