Craig Brown was born on the north side of Milwaukee. His mom raised him and his three siblings to live life based on love.
“I had the best mom in the world,” he said. “Through her love I learned how to love others. My mom inspired me to spread love throughout my community and in the world as much as possible.
Brown is the first of his mother’s children to graduate from college, earning his degree from UW-Stout in December 2019. He has his associate degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College. When he decided to pursue his bachelor’s, he found UW-Stout would accept more of his MATC credits than any other school he researched.
And with UW-Stout’s online management degree and a concentration in human resource management, Brown qualified for tuition reimbursement through his employer, AT&T, because the program is company-approved.
Discovering his passion, continuing a legacy of love
Brown would not have been able to enroll at UW-Stout without the flexibility of the online program. In his undergraduate studies he discovered his passion for nonprofit work and decided to pursue a career in the field.
Brown founded Craig Clifton, Inc., a 501(c)3 grass roots, community-based organization. With a team of five people, CCI supports youth and their families with resources and assistance within their communities.
“We focus on mental health awareness, academic growth and personal growth of our youth through the arts,” Brown said.
As director of CCI, Brown also serves as a mentor in after-school programs, using hip hop as a way to connect with students. He produced the album, Social Just’Us, for which he won the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Brown has established relationships with organizations in the Milwaukee area, seeks to improve relationships between law enforcement and the black community and promotes opportunities for those in need.
“I like to help the youth recognize their goals while they are young,” Brown said. “The younger a person can recognize their goals the better chance they have to fully accomplish them.”
“I believe when people accomplish their goals early it could potentially help reduce or eliminate a lot of negativity in the world. The most valuable thing I learned is that people want to do better.”
Human resource experience on the job
Brown works full time at CCI, growing and understanding the organization. He also works full time at AT&T in customer service and repairs and completed his internship with the company.
Brown received information about what to expect if he wanted to pursue a career in management. He was given special roles, duties and tasks to provide him with the leadership experience needed to be considered for promotion.
And he became a resource for his co-workers with his knowledge of human resource management, company policy and legal inquiries.
“Our department does not have an onsite HR representative, so I was given permission to use company resources to create videos and other job-related materials to help educate co-workers about our company policies and procedures,” he said.
Brown’s videos were uploaded to his center’s website to educate employees on compliance as individuals as well as a team. He also documented his nonprofit work, recording interviews with area educators.
“Craig had a positive impact on his workplace employee morale and attained additional professional exposure at his company, which expanded his opportunities for promotion,” said Mandy Stasiek, internship supervisor for the online management program. “Craig is capable of achieving highly set career goals. I have no doubt that he will continue to be highly recognized in his workplace.”
Leading by example, earning his master’s
Brown is now in his master’s in nonprofit and leadership at UW-Milwaukee where he is learning more about the business side of nonprofits, so he can expand CCI’s programs and continue to help make positive changes in people’s lives.
“The youth have hope. They just need more people in their lives to support them,” Brown said. “I needed to continue my education so I can level up and learn how to be a better resource for them.”
Although COVID-19 has made it difficult to provide services and resources to families, CCI offers virtual mentoring and tutoring services. “We communicate often to let families know we are still here to help,” he said.
Brown anticipates graduating in 2022.
Follow Craig Clifton, Inc. on Facebook.