We Believe: Healthy individuals of character are essential to healthy Communities, to create opportunity for everyone.
We specialize in helping individuals of color to overcome challenges, leverage their adverse experiences, and enrich their character.
We provide free mental health counseling.
We provide character education and financial literacy skills.
We provide public education and advocacy around mental health.
LION Community Enrichment Programs, Inc. is a nonprofit organization established to ensure individuals have the resources, competency, and awareness needed to contribute to a thriving, productive, and nurturing community for all people.
LION works with individuals to improve their mental health, creating the foundation for introspection and self-actualization. We know that youth will achieve greatness and develop a positive identity with the nurturance, support, and guidance of caring, responsible adults in their lives. We understand the importance of interdependence, so we also provide services and opportunities for parents and caregivers to work through personal, unresolved trauma in order to be a healthy resource in the healing of their children and the community.
We offer groups focused on reducing aggression and increasing assertive behaviors. We believe all people are doing the best they can in the face of a society that can put children in the path of all kinds of traumas. If children don't receive adequate support and insight from caring adults to heal from these traumas, they can develop attitudes and behaviors that are self-defeating and counter-productive, including aggression and self-injury. We provide support to help children and their families/caregivers heal.The groups are intensive and introspective, with emphasis on healing past trauma and working towards improving self-confidence, self-control, and self-image. While our programs are created and designed to enhance the functioning and abilities of individuals of color, they are inclusive of all ethnicities and cultures.
We believe in:
The Dignity of the Individual - All individuals are seen as assets to be invested in and protected, and all voices and opinions are worthy of being heard and respected.
Self-Sufficiency - All individuals have the ability and opportunity to live up to their fullest potential.
The Power of Community - Communities will thrive by supporting and nurturing children and others, providing them with a sense of their heritage, ethnic identity, and pride.
Relationships - All children benefit from relationships with caring adults. In turn, all adults can benefit from these caring relationships as children understand the importance of interdependence, the quality or condition of being mutually reliant on each other.
The Uniqueness of Every Person - Every individual has strengths and insights to share, opening a unique window to the world.
Kuumba/Creativity - Self-expression is encouraged. Do as much as you can in the way that you can.
Flexibility - Every individual’s situation is different. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and the incorporation of new information is essential to the healing process.
About Our Founder
INTERVIEW WITH KENNETH
What led you to start LION Community Enrichment Programs?
I was providing groups for pre-adolescent, adolescent, and young adult African American males through LION Youth & Community Services, LLC. The groups started well, but soon the attendance was not enough to maintain the groups. The primary reasons the youth stopped coming were lack of transportation and parents who were unable or unwilling to support them for a variety of reasons. I was unable to provide the transportation myself. I needed to access public and private funding that would cover the costs of transportation to groups and assist families in overcoming the obstacles that prevented them from participating. With the help and support of friends and my MBA cohort, I was able to raise the funds to establish this nonprofit in Minnesota and apply for the federal tax exempt 501(c)(3) number. Having 501(c)(3) status allows organizations that support programs like mine to write off the grant amounts as tax deductions. My ultimate goal is to ensure that young African American males can contribute positively to their families, community, and society.
What caused you to enter the field of social work originally?
I became interested in social work after being involved with supporting a friend through her struggles with chemical dependency. I enrolled in the Chemical Dependency program at St. Cloud State University and was advised to complete a four year Social Work degree that I had started 10 years prior. I enrolled in a social work class and immediately knew it was what I wanted to do. A Social Work degree offers the opportunity to work in diverse fields. I began working in a group home for adolescent males and was able to connect with the young men.
How are you able to connect with these youth to get through to them?
I consider myself a very good listener, which allows the young men to open up and share their stories. For the past 20 plus years, I have worked with children and families from diverse backgrounds in a variety of settings, including group home, residential treatment, alcohol and other drug dependency treatment, the St. Cloud community, foster care, and adoption. My approach is to not be “preachy” or judgmental. I personally had an eventful youth and can relate to many of the issues these young men are working through. I am able to engage with clients of African descent within a culturally relevant context. We explore issues of anger/rage, alienation, respect, childhood trauma, issues related to parental abandonment, the journey from boyhood to manhood, and their ideas of manhood and masculinity. When mental health disorders are not treated, males of African descent are more vulnerable to dropping out of school, incarceration, homelessness, substance abuse, homicide, and suicide.
What makes you care so much to want to make a difference for these youth?
I spent a lot of years working with young boys and girls. Young African American boys are locked up at a much higher rate than Caucasian youth, and I saw us losing record numbers of African American males to violence. Research shows that 70% of young men under correction supervision have a mental health diagnosis and at least 55% can be dually diagnosed with both mental illness and chemical dependency. I work with males of a variety of ages, from eight to older adulthood. I recognize that these young men are in pain. They have all experienced childhood trauma and carry a lot of grief and loss that need resolution in order for them to become self-sufficient and aware adults.
Kenneth L. Hanna, Jr.
Founder & Executive Director