Giving back to his community is not what Jordan Morgan does. It is who he is.
The 6-foot-8 former University of Detroit Jesuit star and University of Michigan center hosted his 4th annual Jordan Morgan Foundation back-to-school celebration at the Hellmann Recreation Center on Detroit’s east side, where neighborhood kids received book bags filled with school supplies, haircuts, sports physicals, participated in a basketball camp, learned about financial literacy, and more, completely free of charge.
Founded in 2015, the Jordan Morgan Foundation is a non-profit organization aimed at improving the social and educational welfare of youth in the city of Detroit and state of Michigan. Morgan is currently playing professionally overseas in Turkey and was recently married in July but still found time to reach residents in one of the more underserved communities of Detroit.
“I’ve always done community service. It was something that we were active in at UofD Jesuit,” said Morgan. “That was part of attending the school; you had to do some type of community service. Even at Michigan, I started to look at my life and feeling really blessed. Being the only child and being homeless at some point in my life, those two things alone, the percentages are against you. I had people in my life that pushed me as a kid and I wanted to do the same for others.”
Morgan’s mother, Meredith, a Detroit area native, was in the Navy at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois when she had him at 20-years-old. They moved around a lot, living in places like Kalamazoo and even a homeless shelter for a brief period of time. By the time Morgan was six, he had lived in nine different homes.
After being raised solely by his mother and settling back in Redford, Michigan, Morgan’s mother married his father, Jim, who adopted him at age 13 and has been a huge inspiration in his life, instilling in him the value of education and leadership. Morgan’s mother went on to complete her master’s degree, which is where he gets his educational prowess.
He, too, has two engineering degrees, from Michigan, and has made an effort to provide those same educational opportunities to Detroit’s youth, many of whom live in similar circumstances that he once lived.
“I credit her for the way that I approach school, especially as I got older and attended college myself,” said Morgan of his mother. “I watched her begin to take her education seriously and that inspired me. My father has always been an example for me on what it means to work hard, to operate with integrity, to take care of family, and he came into my life at the right time.
“When I first wanted to work with children, I knew I wanted to work with them in education because of my parents. To me, educating our youth is the most effective way to make a lasting impact on them. Everything we do is centered around working with youth in some kind of capacity through education.”
The mission statement for the Jordan Morgan Foundation is to, “Inform, inspire, and empower academically disadvantaged and socially underserved youth.”
He started engaging students in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program in 2016 called LAUNCH. It is a 4-6-week summer STEM program, depending on location, which focuses on developing participants’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills through engaging, activity-based learning. Each week the participants are immersed in a different STEM topic in unique and exciting ways, including a mid-week field trip for an authentic exposure to the topic at hand. Each topic culminates with a group project that ties all of the classroom learning together with the field trip. This group work fosters teamwork and leadership skills key to our students’ success throughout their academic career and into adulthood.
“We spend our time working with kids in a hands-on environment, teaching them STEM subjects,” said Morgan. “The goal of that program is to get them interested in STEM. An interest in STEM has been shown to lead kids to pursue STEM careers and subjects at a higher rate. I really see STEM as a valuable piece to level the playing field both academically and educationally. STEM degrees also lead to higher wages.”
At the back-to-school event, there was a Fifth-Third Bank truck out front teaching families about banking and financial literacy, as well as others programs offering assistance, such as T.H.A.W. (The Heat and Warmth Fund), DTE Energy, Meet Up and Eat Up, and several others. Morgan’s foundation is all about education the entire family.
“In the 3rddistrict, a number of our residents are financially challenged,” said Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson, who serves the 3rd District where Morgan held his back-to-school event. “This event is a great way to assist these families and what Jordan (Morgan) is doing is fantastic. I’m here to support him and I’m really glad he is using his resources to support the part of the city I represent.”