Former gang member works to keep Memphis youth out of trouble

Former gang member works to keep Memphis youth out of trouble

A former gang member uses his past experiences to keep young men from making the mistake he did.
  FOX13 sat down with the founder of Young Man University who said entrepreneurship is one of the most important components.

Former gang member Jeffrey Futrell spent 11 years in prison before turning his life around.

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“Selling drugs, laundering drug money, just being a part of that criminal lifestyle is inevitably going to get you in trouble because that’s what it’s designed to do,” he said.

Futrell is the founder of Young Man University, an educational program teaching teens academics, leadership and entrepreneurship.

“I teach from my failures,” he explained.

Futrell uses his own restaurant that he opened last year at the Signature Flight executive terminal building at the airport in Memphis as motivation for teens to learn customer service.

The teens receive a stipend and come to work a few days a week.

Some of the workers are gang members.  Not everyone is.Ticordia  Boone is a server at the restaurant.  He said this program is the number one reason he did not join a gang.

"I've had a cousin that was killed.  I think back in 2014 I guess a drive by. 
Seeing that and seeing what it could do prevents me from falling into bad hands because I know the consequences and such," said Boone.

When the young men come to work, they say there are many life lessons to learn inside the restaurant.

“Appearance means everything so you don’t want a waiter that’s just doesn’t care about you,” Boone explained.

"I’m teaching them to do what owners do, owners stay late, they pick up the paper, they do all the jobs that it takes to make the visions become a realization,” Futrell added.

Boone said it’s a lesson helping him understand his vision which is to become a video game designer.

More than 100 young men are a part of the program, about 11 work at the restaurant.