A nonprofit is putting together courses focused on helping students succeed. Brave Enough to Fail says it’s already handed out tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships, and with the help of donors, it’s looking to do even more.
“I know that a message can change the trajectory of a child’s life,” said Brave Enough to Fail’s Founder and CEO, Wayne Winsley.
For Winsley, that’s exactly what it did. He had a tough childhood in Ohio, living for a time in an orphanage, failing school, and lacking direction.
“I was this 14-year-old Black kid walking around Cleveland. No plan, no nothing. Realistically, I was going to wind up in one of two places: prison or the cemetery,” said Winsley.
But one day, words he overheard a friend’s father say changed everything.
“One of the things that his father said was, ‘Always strive for excellence. I don't care what you do, be excellent at something. Excellence will overcome poverty, prejudice, and adversity every time. Just be excellent at something.’ And for whatever reason, that message stayed in my head. And because of that message, I made a choice. I chose to go back to school and actually work at it,” said Winsley.
Winsley went on to serve two tours in the US Navy and had a 20-year career as a radio broadcaster.
He’s now using what he learned to help other students in low-income and underserved communities. His nonprofit, Brave Enough to Fail, began in 2015 and focuses on motivating and teaching kids how to realize their dreams and provides social-emotional learning. At each school the organization serves, Winsley says they give five $1,000 scholarships to students.
“Sometimes life does get hard,” said Mikayla Hill.
Hill is a junior at Western Connecticut State University where she’s studying professional writing. She says three years ago Winsley spoke at her high school. Afterwards, she applied for one of the nonprofit’s scholarships and got it. As she works towards becoming an author and playwright, when she has setbacks she thinks about his words.
“You know you can do it, and failure is a part of life. And you just have to find a new way to make your way through it,” said Hill.
To help even more students, the nonprofit created a course, at no cost to students or schools, called The Boss Academy. Winsley says it’s paid for through private donations, grants, and sponsors.
Winsley says he wasn’t sure the organization would survive the pandemic because financing totally shut down. And then the nonprofit received a $15,000 anonymous donation.
“Re-energized, to say the least, because that was totally unexpected,” said Winsley.
The nonprofit’s goal is to raise a total of $250,000. He says it’s money that would allow them to reach 25,000 students in the state and provide scholarships and materials. He says it would also allow them to become a self-sustaining organization. Winsley hopes to inspire and help students see that their dreams are possible and worth taking the risk.
“Being brave enough to risk failure is a non-negotiable requirement for success in any venture,” said Winsley.
“Overcome your failure. Be strong. Just do your best. That's all that matters,” said Hill.
For more information about the nonprofit or to donate, you can head here: https://www.braveenoughtofail.org/