My name is Steve Larosiliere. I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens Village, New York to Haitian immigrant parents. After a brief stint in Miramar, Florida, my family moved to Elmont, Long Island where I attended catholic school. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to a Catholic Prep School in Manhasset, Long Island where I was the only black male in my grade. My benefactor was a man named George Donahue who wanted to give a young black man with promise a chance. I never had the chance to meet him. What’s missing from this story is the fact that I grew up lower middle class and at times my family struggled financially to make ends meet. Even though we grew up poor at times, my family never had me believe it. I grew up volunteering at hospitals, libraries, delivering meals to senior citizens. I also played baseball, soccer, lacrosse, took piano and swimming lessons, was in the boy scouts, and skateboarded. What I’ve come to realize that even though my family struggled, I was given a tremendous amount of opportunity from my community and people who wanted me to succeed.
Fast forward 20 years, I’m the Founder and President of STOKED a youth development organization with offices in New York City and Los Angeles. STOKED uses the lifestyle and culture of action sports to accelerate youth development and teach 21st century skills to underserved youth to close the opportunity gap. STOKED was founded in 2005 and came out of my desire to give back because I’ve been the recipient of good deeds my entire life. It took me a long time to realize it but I’m the product of opportunity, strong youth development, and mentoring. STOKED works with kids, a large majority of them youth like myself who have promise but need to be shown the greater world to be motivated to succeed.