Isaiah Oliver came to Central Michigan University from Flint, Michigan. Just more than a decade later, he was named president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
He wants everyone to know where he came from, so they can recognize the immense talent coming from his hometown.
"I hope people ask, 'Where did he come from? How did he get here? Where can we find more kids like that?'" he said. "Then I can say, 'I'm just a kid from Flint. There are thousands of intelligent, amazing, driven and talented kids in Flint.'"
That's the exact reason why Isaiah's path led him to where he is today.
It's why he helped form the Flint Promise college scholarship program, which allows eligible Flint students to attend participating colleges for little to no cost, and opened the doors to the $16 million Educare Flint, modeled on providing top early childhood education. It's why he established the Flint Fresh Food Hub, providing fresh produce for local residents. It's also why he worked with Bruno Mars in securing $1 million in aid for victims of the Flint water crisis.
"I was born and raised in Flint, a community that is well-known for its philanthropic resources," Isaiah said. "It wasn't until I was hired by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint as vice president of community impact that I truly understood the power of philanthropy and significant impact that nonprofit organizations make in Flint and Genesee County."
Isaiah's work in the nonprofit world is driven by his experiences in Flint and at CMU.
"At CMU, I found my true self because of a newfound exposure to life outside of my comfort zone," he said. "That experience opened a new inquisitive, 'must know why' instinct in me."
That has led to an approach that focuses on relationships and people.
"My preference is an inclusive approach to the work that listens to and works with people of the community to develop a true partnership," he said. "Leading an organization that is focused on social good feels good."