Dontari Poe expands Poe Man’s Challenge entrepreneurship events
By Matt Conner
Former Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe continues to give back to underserved youth in several communities through his Poe Man’s Challenge events.
Dontari Poe wants to give back to the cities that give to him. That means that Atlanta should expect to feel the impact of signing the former Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle off the field as well as on it with the Falcons.
After he was first drafted by the Chiefs in 2012, Poe and some friends and advisors helped him for Poe Man’s Dream Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower and support at-risk youth through various endeavors. More officially, Poe Man’s Dream aims to “give under-served middle school and high school students opportunities to succeed by providing them with resources for personal development and tools for success.”
“I always had the idea to give back,” says Poe. “As a kid, I always looked up to those that wanted to help out. I also got a lot of help from teachers and mentors.”
Poe Man’s Dream has sponsored various donation drives for school supplies and clothing as well as gifts and needs during the holiday season. The first free football camp back in Memphis, where Poe grew up, began last year in 2016. Their latest series of events might be their best yet: the Poe Man’s Challenge. The “Shark Tank-like” entrepreneurship events bring investors together with bright young students.
“Being an entrepreneur is all about taking charge of your success,” says Jarie Bolander, an advisor to Poe Man’s Dream. “I don’t know any other profession where you make your own opportunities and success. I feel it’s important that youth know that there are options out there besides just getting a job.”
Last December, Kansas City held its first Poe Man’s Challenge together with teammates Chris Jones, Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Charcandrick West and even two members of the Harlem Globetrotters. Students helped pitch K.C. based start-ups to celebrity judges.
“There were a lot of great companies in Kansas City and the community was so helpful,” says Bolander. “What we learned was that there are great companies everywhere and the entrepreneur community is always willing to help each other and a great cause.
With Poe’s offseason move to Atlanta, he is keen to bring the concept to a new area of need, and that’s not the only new city. The team is gearing up for their next event on March 30 in San Francisco. While Poe has obviously never played for the 49ers, the city makes sense as a
“The idea of Poe Man’s Dream Foundation was to give back to those in need,” says Poe. “The team and I want to be of service to the communities that I’m involved in. That’s why we are working on making Poe Man’s Challenge easy to do in other cities.”
“San Francisco is the heart of the startup world,” adds Bolander. “There are a lot of great companies here and a lot of youth that need help. It just made a ton of sense to have a competition where all the companies are.”
Click here for more information on Poe Man’s Challenge San Francisco or to buy tickets for the event.