Young Alumnus Gives Back To Morehouse For The Success It Gave Him

Date Released: October 9, 2017

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By D. Aileen Dodd

Isom B. Lowman ’98 left Columbia, S.C. to chart a course for a successful future at Morehouse College in Atlanta. By junior year, he switched his major from biology to business and was investing in the stock market. He took $10,000 that was left over from his scholarship fund and that he saved working part time, and turned it into $50,000 by purchasing tech stocks.

And soon he had amassed enough capital to open an Athlete’s Foot franchise in Decatur.

“By the time that I graduated from Morehouse, I was in the process of looking for a location,” he said. “I wrote a business plan and got a loan for a $125,000 franchise. I paid everything back in the first year.” 

By age 30, Lowman was a Southeast athletic shoe magnate with 18 stores and a $20 million business. Recently, he returned to his alma mater to make another investment. He gave $110,000 to launch a scholarship fund so that enterprising scholars could also find their fortune at Morehouse College.

“I wanted to give back to the school,” said Lowman, now 41. “My time at Morehouse changed my life. It was a wonderful experience for me. And when I saw how high the tuition has risen, I wanted to do something to give other people a chance to receive a Morehouse education like I did.”

Lowman said he was inspired to give back to Morehouse College after attending a small gathering of young alumni at a dinner party hosted by the College’s Interim President Harold Martin Jr. at Davidson House at the start of the academic year. Soon after the Board of Trustees appointed him in June, Interim President Martin Jr. launched an aggressive outreach to engage young alumni age 45 and under into the life, academic programs, and funding needs of Morehouse. He traveled from California to New York to meet with alumni and hosted a series of dinner sessions at the president’s residence. According to Interim President Martin Jr., more than half of the College’s 16,000 alumni are 45 and under.

“Many of our young alumni are experiencing great success as a direct result of the education and the opportunities that they had at Morehouse,” Interim President Martin Jr. said. “Some may have lost touch with Morehouse due to the daily demands on their work and personal lives. But we want to invite them back to Morehouse and let them know that we are just as proud of their accomplishments as we are of our older alumni.

“We want to share their success stories with our scholars and to encourage them to partner with Morehouse in its effort to educate the next generation of global leaders,” he added.

Lowman will be featured in a new campaign to highlight the success and contributions of young alumni at Morehouse. His portrait and profile will be the latest added to the website, which is produced by Joe Carlos, the new program manager for Young Alumni Engagement, another position launched by the strategic vision of Interim President Martin Jr.

Since the website went live officially last month, the site has attracted a following.

“I am so encouraged and gratified by the overwhelmingly positive response that the site is getting,” Carlos said. “The interest seems to increase nearly every week. We’re at over 32,000 visits, and that’s been with limited marketing. Moreover, the site is answering questions about how dynamic, broad-based, accomplished, interesting, diverse, and outstanding our alumni are. I’m getting multiple requests daily and commitments from everyone to engage with their time, talent, or treasure immediately.”

Lowman, the newest addition to the website, credits Morehouse for helping him to succeed.

His firm, The Lowman Group, sold all but two of franchises to City Gear in 2013. Lowman will rebuild his empire again, however. He is planning to open five more stores next year. (The Lowman Group operates the two highest volume Athlete’s Foot franchises in the country.)

In addition to his business success, Lowman has been a generous contributor to community service organizations. He has mentored youth in juvenile detention centers and hired past inmates. He has also provided rental assistance to single mothers as well as served as a founder of the ‘Dare to Dream’ foundation, which mentors students at risk of dropping out of school. Lowman received a ‘Torchbearer Award’ from Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition in 2005 for his community service efforts. Two years earlier, his firm was named Minority Retail Firm of the Year by the Atlanta Minority Business Development Center.

Lowman said he will be reaching out to some of his Morehouse brothers and encouraging them to give back to the College that gave them their start.

“Talking to Harold really opened my eyes to the small percentage of alumni who are actively giving back,” Lowman said. “Everyone doesn’t have to give $100,000; they can give $100 if that is what they have. But we should all take an active role in raising funds for the College because Morehouse has done so much for us.”

Last Modified: October 9, 2017, 23:10 PM, by: Kara Walker

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