From prisoner to mentor: Once-troubled Raleigh man tries to get young people on right track

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Sean Ingram wants to transition from tenant to owner, but he needs the help of the community.

Currently, the space that hosts the Sean Ingram Academy off Wake Forest Road in Raleigh is rented.

Ingram's vision with the academy started after his release from prison as a way to divert kids to a different path.

Ingram grew up poor in Wilson, North Carolina. He was raised by his grandmother. His mom battled addiction while his dad was in and out of prison.

Ingram had run-ins with the law as a teen, then at 22, he was sentenced to five years in prison.

"I look at myself and I say 'okay, I went to prison, my father went to prison, my father's father went to prison, and I don't know about my father's father's father, but look at the generational curse.'" Ingram said. "I made the decision for myself to say no. I have to be the one to actually break this cycle."

Fast forward to today, The Sean Ingram Academy is a thriving nonprofit that aims to divert teens from the path Ingram once journeyed. Ingram is now a motivational speaker and author of five books.

"I think the misconception with me is a lot of people do they look at the books, they look at the academy, and a lot people say 'hey I want my kid to be like you when they grow up' and I say 'no that's not my mission and my ministry.' My mission and my ministry is to help your kid not be like me.'"

The academy offers a diversion program that aids in trade skills, educational opportunities and a nail academy. Currently, Ingram says his students have a 90 percent success rate.

Ingram currently hopes to buy the building within the next six months. The academy is primarily funded by various fundraisers, Ingram's speaking events and books. You can donate here.
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