meet our founder

Leon El-Alamin

Leon El-Alamin is the founder and Executive Director of the M.A.D.E. Institute, a nonprofit organization that stands for Money, Attitude, Direction and Education.  The mission of the organization is to provide transitional housing and comprehensive programming for at-risk youth and returning citizens through workforce development, social advocacy, urban farming, training and research, and violence prevention.

Growing up on the north side of Flint, Leon was a good kid who took refuge at his grandmother’s house to escape the challenges he faced at home and out on the streets.  After graduating from high school, the allure of earning fast money made Leon start hustling drugs.

A few years later, a shootout over a drug turf war landed him in the hospital where he spent a month in a coma.  The incident led to his eventual arrest and imprisonment on drug and weapons charges. At the age of 30, Leon was released from prison after serving part of a 12-20-year sentence. Several years after his release he launched the M.A.D.E. Institute in 2015.

M.A.D.E. was nominated for the Exceptional business award by Voice for Children earlier this year.  It also received the Corporate Award from the Flint Neighborhood Coalition & Flint Development Center in 2019.

Leon is a graduate of Mott Community College’s workforce Development Green construction Program.  He is also certified as a Youth Mental Health First Aid Recovery Coach through Genesee Health System and served on the City of Flint’s 1st Ward Zoning Board of Appeals Officer. He recently completed an Overview of Human Research Protection and Ethics Regulations and Certification from Michigan State University.

Several organizations have recognized Leon for his work in the community. He received the Carroll Clark Civic Service Award from Mott Community College in 2016 and was honored as the NAACP’s Flint branch’s 2018 Unsung Hero Award.  Leon currently serves on the City of Flint’s Housing Commission and as a member of the City’s ARPA Advisory Committee.



Leon El-Alamin

He also served on the master plan committee on the Imagine Flint Master Plan Committee and received the Neighborhood Leader Award by the Black Relationship to Land Committee in 2014 for his community leadership.

In 2014, he received the Team Spark Award by the Flint & Genesee County Chamber of Commerce for entrepreneurship. He was also honored to be recognized by the Neighborhood Small Grants Program of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint for creating positive change in the community.

Leon EL-Alamin has a new book entitled “Pain Is Poetry,” which can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major outlets.

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