By Shirley Hawkins
WATTS — Brandon “Stix” Salaam Bailey, a songwriter, producer, artist, DJ, music executive, rapper and community activist, loves Watts.
Bailey, 40, was born and raised in what is considered one of Southern California’s most underserved and underprivileged communities.
He was chosen recently with four other social equality activists to be awarded with the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Social Equality Award, which recognizes individual leaders from across the country who advance social equality and economic opportunity.
Each honoree received the opportunity to direct a $200,000 award in flexible funding to an organization of their choice.
Bailey chose his nonprofit organization Thinkwatts, recognizing how the generous grant could impact and improve the lives of thousands of low-income families.
Thinkwatts also will be given an opportunity to participate in annual leadership development programs, which provide strategic growth and development training that will set the organizations up for long-term success.
Bailey founded the Thinkwatts Foundation in 2018 to help provide needed assistance and resources to the community.
“I just wanted to provide what was missing when I was growing up,” he said.
Since its inception, Thinkwatts’ programs have continued to blossom. Services include financial literacy classes, economic development education, grocery giveaways, homeless outreach, rental assistance, coding classes, utility bills relief, entrepreneurship training, ex-offenders job placement, job training and a youth sports program.
“We also helped small businesses to set up their [legal corporations] and get their 5013cs for their nonprofits,” Bailey said. “And we also helped teens open their very first stock market accounts and start trading stocks on the market.”
To combat food insecurity, Thinkwatts volunteers regularly deliver groceries to the housing projects in Watts door-to-door.
“Me and my partner Top Dog put together a food distribution day each week called Above and Beyond,” Bailey said. “We fill up grocery boxes with fresh vegetables and fruit and we hand them out to every housing project in Watts. So far, we have been able to feed over 40,000 families.”
Bailey also was instrumental in urging the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Unified School District to complete a revitalization project at the University Pathways Public Service Academy and Charles R. Drew Middle School.
He persuaded the Clippers to help transform Charles R. Drew’s gym and field, which hadn’t been updated in 30 years.
The Clippers renovated the indoor basketball court, nine-and-a-half outdoor courts, two volleyball courts, two tennis courts, two four square courts, four handball courts, a garden, a walking path and a fresh paint job on the gymnasium.
Bailey, who considers Watts an acronym for “We Are Taught To Survive,” said, “We need more influential members and people from the neighborhood to leave footprints in the sand for the youth.
“We need to show (the youth) that just because you come from an area like Watts doesn’t mean you can’t survive.”
Bailey has made significant inroads as a music producer, working with such musical artists as Iggy Azalea, Tyrese, Nicole Scherzinger, Diplo, Greyson Chance, Steve Aokiand Scarface, just to name a few,
He also is the official ambassador for the Los Angeles Football Club soccer team, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Los Angeles Clippers. He has created the official theme songs for all three teams.
But Thinkwatts will always remain close to Bailey’s heart.
“It remains a program dedicated to providing resources and opportunities to help individuals reach their goals and dreams,” he said.
The entrepreneur and activist has plans to build a Thinkwatts headquarters where residents can attend events and receive wrap-around services in the near future.
To many residents, Bailey is a champion and a shining beacon for change.
“I am extremely proud of what we’ve been able to do with the ThinkWatts Foundation,” he said.
The Thinkwatts Foundation can be reached at www.thinkwattsfoundation.org.
Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at metropressnews.com.