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Brandale Randolph

Brandale Randolph

Executive Director, Project: Poverty

It’s been about five years since Brandale Randolph was invited to speak at a TEDx event in New York City. Unfortunately, funding to get him to that event fell through and his moment on the stage was lost.

He came back to Lubbock determined to create that moment for others, and many TED events have followed because he sought a license for the program in the Lubbock area. Unfortunately, as a license-holder, he could not participate in the events he helped create.

Then came TEDxTexasTechUniversity, and he finally got his chance to give the TED Talk he had been holding on to all these years.

“It’s been a thrill,” he said of being invited to speak at the upcoming event, which will serve as a prelude to the TEDxWomen event he has planned for a few days later.

He said he will speak on the same subject he had planned for New York, but his format has changed with his involvement in TED events since.

“I saw that the most impactful TED Talks were the ones that share stories,” he said. “Those have been my favorite TED Talks … those are the ones you remember.”

For that reason, he will get away from offering data on the issue of poverty in America and speak from his experiences. The Executive Director of Project: Poverty, Brandale has learned a lot of lessons as he has navigated his way through trying to help the impoverished.

“That experience is years of doing things I thought would help reduce poverty,” he said, adding those projects in literacy and food assistance were “too broad a stroke” to make a difference.

He said he discovered something very important – all poverty is not the same. For instance, when he taught a job readiness course to the long-time unemployed, he found the same people came back again and again.

“The problem for them wasn’t getting a job,” he said. “The problem was keeping a job after 90 days.”

For the chronically unemployed, Brandale said, the issue became more that they did not know how to stay employed. "Once I tweaked the classes toward that, I would see less come back.”

That idea of tailoring his efforts to the needs of his audience became the catalyst for Project: Poverty, he said, adding the real issue is getting to know the needs of your audience and then meeting those needs.

Further, Brandale said he has discovered a “genetic code” for poverty that helps in determining those needs. “There are 20 different aspects and based on those aspects, you can see what to address in a particular person.”

“We waste too many resources on things that aren’t needed,” he said. “I want my audience to walk away with the idea of humanizing the poor … ask the people in poverty what the need.”

Watch his TEDxTalk.