LOS ANGELES - The unlikely bond forged between Los Angeles restaurateur Mike Gordon and high school teacher Maynard Brown is as powerful as the college fellowship created by this blended brotherhood.
“You know, that's my brother from another mother,” says Brown, referring to Gordon, who gives an approving chuckle.
“We’re literally in the business of transforming young people’s lives,” Brown goes onto say.
Named after these brothers, the Gordon Brown Fellowship provides college bound Los Angeles city high school seniors’ financial support, mentorship and internship opportunities they might not otherwise get.
“They’re usually first generation college students,” says Brown.
Since 2014, the Fellowship has sent hundreds of local students to college, many from Crenshaw Stemm Magnet High School, where Brown has taught for decades, and where these two met.
“I was introduced to Maynard, his entrepreneurship class at Crenshaw high school and we became fast friends,” says Gordon.
Gordon, who owns several successful restaurants including Toscana in Brentwood, started donating his time in the classroom and after seeing the undeniable potential in students, Gordon’s time turned into hosting fundraisers to fuel the fellowship. But it all started with Warren Jones.
“The former student body president of Crenshaw enrolled in community college, but unbeknownst to me had dropped out. One day, I was waiting at the elevator in my office building and up comes Warren Jones in a janitor's outfit,” recalls Gordon.
Jones told Gordon he needed the work to pay for online courses. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
“Mike opened up his heart, opened up his doors, he opened up his business,” says Brown.
Jones became the first recipient of the Gordon Brown Fellowship more than five years ago and today he’s studying for his PhD in public health.
At a time when public health and racial justice are paramountly important, so too becomes the fellowship, perhaps more than ever.
“We graduate them and give them the confidence that they can make a difference in their community and become leaders in their community,” says Brown.