Youth and anti–gun violence activist Chris Foye just earned a degree from the College New Rochelle. The sense of great achievement is not lost on him. In 2009, his son, Chris Shakim Owens, 13, was shot and killed by a stray bullet at a Harlem barbecue.

Foye fought through the grief and anger and became the founder and CEO of the Chris S. Owens Foundation. Every year, he commemorates the tragic April 26 date with a rally and a call to catch his son’s killer. But he also teaches young people how to become documentarians and about financial literacy.

He has turned tragedy into hope for the youth.

“I’m happy to have earned my degree in communications and graduated in three years,” Foye told the Amsterdam News. “However, I found it disturbing that an estimated 127 women graduated from the College of New Rochelle, School of New Resources Brooklyn Campus, and an estimated number of only 17 Black men graduated with degrees. I found this disparity between Black men and women who graduate with degrees a reflection of how men of color view education, their current situation, social and economic future. This is going to lead to an imbalance of power of male leadership in minority communities, disparity in minority employment in administrative positions requiring a degree and a lack of respect from the Black women who may not understand what or how institutional racism works; and how to deal with it as a family unit as to overcome these obstacles set in place to prevent minorities and men of color from becoming equal progressive providers in society.”

Foye, who points out that his mother, Geraldine, graduated from the same college in 1988, notes that her example inspired him to pursue education. The murder of his teenage son motivated him to aid young people in the pursuit of fulfilling their potential “My mission is to empower minority groups via education and financial resources so they can use that to lead to higher graduation rates for men of color and show them how to use this education to empower their communities and enhance their own quality of life. This can only be done via correct education, entrepreneurship and ownership that creates intergenerational wealth.”

For more information, contact www.thechrissowensfoundation.org or chris@thechrissowensfoundation.org.