Jalem Robinson's resume is impressive.
He graduated in 2011 with an Associate of Arts degree from FAMU. In 2015, he graduated from USF with a Bachelor of Science in English. Then, he received his Master of Education in Educational Leadership from UT in 2017.
But it's what he did while doing all of it that earns him the honor of being this year's Gasparilla Community Hero.
"So BUBBA Inc., as I like to call it a full-service organization for men and boys because we don't just do mentoring, we do tutoring, we do events. And we do a whole bunch of other different programs and services to meet the needs of boys and men here for the Tampa Bay area," explained Robinson.
In 2014, Robinson founded the Brothers United Building Brothers Alliance (BUBBA, INC). The nonprofit is dedicated to improving the lives of young men of color through education, engagement and empowerment.
"I started it because I was working in a place and I noticed that there were a lot of people with their hands on our boys that didn't know what to do with them, and weren't really too interested in trying to figure that out. So I was like, I can either be mad about that or I can do something myself to meet the needs of those boys. And so that's what I did," said Robinson.
Robinson's organization is a success and gives these young boys somewhere, and someone to turn to.
"We offer them different ways and different alternatives, but we never, you know, criticize them or judge them for the state that they're in. So they always love our events, they really love our boys night out because they just get to run around and play basketball, football, and they love stuff like that. But even our other events that are more formal and educational, they're always engaged, and they're always willing to open up," says Robinson.
Currently, Robinson serves as the Director of Community Collaboration for Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa. In this role, he builds relationships with various businesses, partners, organizations and leaders around Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, and surrounding counties.
"I think it's necessary, because the boys need something to do, and they need somebody to help guide them. And they need people from the community coming back to them. Like, alright, you know, this, these are the mistakes I made. Let me help, you know, steer you this way. These are the things that I've seen other people go around, and let me help you, you know, give you a little bit of direction," explained Robinson.
"I think the most important thing with us is, you know, most of our mentors, all of our mentors, and the guys that are engaged with our staff come from the same neighborhoods, the same communities that these boys come from. So, you know, we're not, you know, coming to them talking to them, like we know what's going on, because we just heard about it — we've lived it. We come from these neighborhoods, we come from the same streets that the boys come from, so we can relate," Robinson added.
Robinson said his organization is always looking for mentors and boys to join. You can click here to find out how you can help.