100 Years, 100 Stories
Tyrone Flowers, JD is the founder of Higher M-Pact, Inc., a non-profit organization whose focus is to mentor, develop and restore hope in the lives of high-risk, Kansas City urban youth.
Flowers’ story began at a young age. Flowers had a difficult childhood, to say the least. At the age of seven, he became a ward of the state and was tossed between foster homes, detention centers, reform schools and state youth facilities. This child of the system was labeled “beyond parental control” and was diagnosed with behavioral problems and learning disorders. Flowers had little support for perseverance and resilience from adults in his life.
Determined to prove himself, Flowers attended his senior year at Central High School. He quickly gained popularity and acceptance in school by participating on the basketball team. Flowers received multiple full-ride scholarships to colleges for his athletic ability, but had plans to join the Army. He was excited to start his future in the military but tragically, two weeks before graduation, Flowers was shot three times leaving him in a wheelchair. After taking a year to recuperate and rehabilitate, Flowers decided to move forward with an education and use his mind. In August 1989, Flowers enrolled at Metropolitan Community College – Penn Valley.
“Penn Valley seemed like a natural fit,” Flowers said. “It was located in the urban core, which made me comfortable and it gave me a chance to adjust to college.” Flowers attributes some of his success at Penn Valley to Dr. Leroy Pitts, Dr. Denise McDowell and Mr. Melvin McMurry. “Dr. Leroy Pitts was the first African American man I saw making money with his mind.” Dr. Denise McDowell managed student programs focusing on student success and was always there to make Penn Valley a comfortable place for Flowers to learn. Mr. Melvin McMurry was an advisor and was the first “ex-athlete” Flowers saw in a professional setting. Seeing someone that had been successful at athletics, but chose to use his mind for his career was inspiring to Flowers.
After the brutal attack, Flowers often wondered, “why me?” During his time at Mizzou, Flowers went back to visit the “system” he had grown up in to complete coursework. While there, he met a young man that opened up about his similar personal battle – something he had not done with the program workers. The boy had opened up because he and Flowers had shared many similar experiences and the same cell. Before he left, Flowers was told by a woman working for the family court system that he had a gift. Flowers had found his purpose and finally had his lingering question answered.
Through his privately funded, non-profit organization, Higher M-Pact, Flowers impacts up to 7,500 high-risk youth every year on varying levels. When one of his youth enrolls at Metropolitan Community College – Penn Valley, he takes them on a personal tour of the campus and sets up meetings with financial aid, advisors, TRiO, deans and even the campus president.
Flowers was the first of his family to earn a college degree receiving his associate’s degree from Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. Flowers then graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in psychology with academic honors. In 1998, Flowers earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia-School of Law, where he received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award for his work in ‘Children & the Law.’
Flowers is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the NAACP and Urban League of Kansas City to name a few. He’s been honored by many originations for his work in the urban core. He’s received the National Trumpet Community Spirit Award, an invitation to the White House for the Celebration of African American History Month and been named in Ingram’s 2006 Top Forty Under Forty.