19-Year-old Barber is Giving Free Haircuts to Serve His Community


( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) More than an Afterschool Program, Next One Up is Helping Students like Diallo Chase their Dreams and Achieve Generational Success

ENSPIRE Contributor: Kaitlyn Cruz

At just 19 years old, Diallo Gainey is using his barbering and entrepreneurship skills to give back to the community that served him. He is offering free haircuts at his newly opened barbershop, “Knights of the Razor”. His barber shop is made to serve young men, specifically the current students at Next One Up.

Next One Up is a non-profit organization and mentorship program, the very same one that funded Diallo’s dream of becoming a barber. Founded by Matt Hanna in 2009, they provide resources and opportunities to help young Black men achieve success and overcome barriers, encouraging bright futures. Next One Up is unique in that it didn’t necessarily push college onto Diallo, but supported his non-traditional route of starting his own business.

Next one up student, free barber haircuts

Next One Up is helping to raise Baltimore’s young black men and end the cycle of poverty, addiction, and violence, which has existed for generations in the city. Many alumni have seen much success. For instance, the average salary of NOU alumni is $58,000, compared to the Black median income of Baltimore, which is only $38,688. Hence, program graduates are earning double of what their parents did. Additionally, 65% of alumni are college grads, compared to the Baltimore average of college grads for young Black men, which is 8%.

More positive outcomes from Next One Up include:

  • 100% of students accepted to college and 100% FAFSA completion
  • 88% of students matriculate to college, 10% pursue a workforce pathway
  • 90+ hours of college immersion each year
  • 90%+ full time employment among NOU alumni

NOU offers several hours of tutoring, STEM instruction, as well as high school and college internship placements. They are introducing and creating new learning and job opportunities for students that they otherwise may not have had. They also hold sessions that cover financial literacy, and self-confidence, and help foster a healthy community.

Students at Next One Up

When Diallo completed barber school, he and Matt agreed that NOU needed a free barber. This venture would inspire current students, convey entrepreneurship, and save students time and money spent at a typical barber shop. Most importantly, it would keep them out of violent neighborhoods, easing parents’ concerns.

The average length of participant involvement is 9+ years, with its oldest members sticking around into their 30s. Many alumni, just like Diallo, choose to come back and serve the NOU community.

Without the mentorship of Next One Up and Founder Matt Hanna, Diallo likely wouldn’t have attended barber school, an opportunity that allowed him to support himself and his mother without going to a 4-year college. Next One Up continues to provide year-round innovative services, surpassing the boundaries of typical programs. They are inspiring future generations of students, helping them break barriers and have better futures for themselves and their families. Next One Up continues to support students’ ambitions, today. “Knights of the Razor” is up and running in Next One Up’s brand-new facility. To find out ways you can support Next One Up’s mission click here.

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