United Way of Greater Kansas City is thrilled to share that Kyle Hollins, founder and CEO of Lyrik’s Institution has been named a winner of the 2023 Kansas City Pinnacle Prize. Lyrik’s Institution is one of our Nonprofit Catalyst Grant recipients.
The Pinnacle Prize was established in 2021 by the generosity of Kenneth and Ann Baum, a couple with long-standing philanthropic giving to Kansas City’s arts, education, conservation and social service sectors. They created the award to honor civic spirit and with the intent to help our region’s best and brightest leaders 40 and under continue their commitments to improve the quality of life for all Kansas Citians—especially those who need it most. The prize comes with an incredible $100,000 cash prize.
The inspiration for Kyle’s work is rooted in lived experience, including homelessness and gang participation as a youth. He spent more than seven years incarcerated for drug offenses as a young man. While in prison, Kyle benefitted from participation in “Life Connections,” an intensive, 18-month program that uses cognitive behavioral modification strategies to transform participants’ negative and unhealthy thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. While in prison, Kyle also worked as a peer instructor for the Men of Influence program, gaining essential skills and experience that he would use after leaving prison in his work with youth and young adults through Lyrik’s Institution.
Founded in 2019, Lyrik’s Institution—named for his daughter, Lyrik—the inspiration for his work—has experienced dramatic success in its short history. It served 136 youth in its first full year of service (2020) then spiked to serving more than 1,000 in 2022. This growth was in part made possible through the effective deployment of a thoughtful business model and successful fundraising for the launch of the organization. The organization has found its place among peer youth development organizations in just a few years, achieving an annual budget in its current fiscal year on target to reach more than half a million dollars. This is possible due to recognition of Kyle’s work by key funders in the community, including the Hadley Project (funded by the Sunderland Foundation), United Way, and REACH Healthcare Foundation.
The following excerpt from the an article by the REACH Healthcare Foundation provides a snapshot of the motivation and impact of Kyle’s work:
“Hollins said he was exposed to the theories and benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy during his time in prison, and pursued his own growth as a program leader and instructor while incarcerated. He said the practices he embraced and studied helped him understand how his own mindset, thinking and actions in life before prison had put him on a continuously risky path. As he worked on his own emotional and behavioral response patterns, Hollins said he grappled with the recognition and emotional pain that he was not present for his daughter to guide and support her because of his own actions.”
Lyrik’s programs include the Power Moves Scholar Forum, a process for helping schools understand concerns and community issues from students’ perspectives and help school administrators and teachers pull together culturally relevant resources to help meet students’ needs. Lyrik’s also provides professional development for teachers and administrators, provides training in positive behavioral support and classroom management, encourages parent engagement, and provides social skills training for youth.” [Source: REACH Healthcare Foundation, Centering Black Voices]
Earlier this year when Lyrik’s Institution was awarded a $50,000 Nonprofit Catalyst Grant from United Way in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Hollins shared how meaningful doing this work has been, and his gratitude for all the support he’s received along the way.
“Working with people that come from adverse realities takes a level of intentionality. Until we start addressing how we think, coming up out of poverty, how we deal with socio-economic issues, it’s just going to systemically pass down through generations,” Hollins said. “I’m thankful to be here, modeling a different way for these young people to think about how they make decisions, and that United Way and Kauffman see value in what we’re doing.”