IIF Spotlight: Derrius Quarles, Board Member

Derrius Quarles is a member of the Israel Idonije Foundation Board of Directors. Also know as the Million Dollar Scholar, Derrius is a huge asset to Team IIF.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I am a Chicago native and a recent graduate of Morehouse College. My journey before college opened up some amazing doors that allowed me win over a million dollars in scholarships –clearly enough for a full ride to Morehouse. This was huge jumpstart to my collegiate career, where I was able to become an author, travel the world, and become the founder of my own company all in four years. I am currently the CEO of Million Dollar Scholar and reside in Chicago for now. I have been having a great time in the city and love my role as a board member.

How did you first hear about the Israel Idonije Foundation?

Sitting across from Common and Harry Belafonte, I was at the table with Israel in April of 2012 at an gala hosted by the Common Ground Foundation. Israel had the great opportunity of sitting right next to each other and having dialogue about Chicago, football, Africa, and the work IIF does. It was an amazing night and I was honored to be in the presence of men of such high character.

As a member of the Board of Directors, how do you support the foundation?

Beyond the universal duties of a Board Member that encompasses oversight, planning, and contribution, I specifically focus on developing the Chicago after school program–a core program of the foundation, to make it more robust and impactful on the students.

Why did you choose to become a part of Team IIF?

I love Chicago and I am discouraged often in regards to the tragedies our youth experience related to violence and the difficulties of unemployment and undereducation. Team IIF is committed to working for these youth by helping them gain the skills and awareness needed to better their own lives and more importantly the community around them. For me, the choice to become a part of the official team was quite an easy one.

What would you say to others to encourage them to support the Israel Idonije Foundation?

The youth our IIF programming reaches are amazing and have great potential. If you meet these students – see their smiles, hear their ambitions, you will understand the greatness of the work we are doing. If you haven’t met them though, take my word for it. Beyond the youth, IIF is an organization characterized by passionate and servant leadership, from the CEO on down, the leadership in place is allowing for high impact with low input and waste.

What is your favorite part of being a Board Member?

Other than being the youngest person on Board…I love the fact that I get the behind the scenes and holistic view of how a non-profit organization is operated. Gaining such exposure at this point in my life, is allowing me to more holistically understand that the meaning of leadership at its core is the ability to create great teams and this Foundation (both the staff and board) are quite clearly amazing teams with great leaders.