MEET CHARLES CLAYTON
Charles was born and raised in Ft. Dodge, Iowa. His mom worked for the Fort Dodge school system in the laundry room and then as a custodian. His father was a cook and mechanic. Growing up, Charles enjoyed playing sports with friends in the backyard and in high school played on the 1988 state championship basketball team. He also played the saxophone in school.
In high school and as a young man, Charles struggled to follow the rules and was arrested for shooting a rifle into the air on New Year’s Eve in 1992. While no one was hurt, Clayton received a felony conviction and completed his sentence.
Clayton used the defining moment in his life to be accountable to himself and turn his life around. For the last 25 years, Charles has dedicated his life to working with kids and he uses his own powerful story of redemption to prevent them from making the same mistakes he made as a kid.
Clayton credits Fort Dodge Coach Jerry Patterson with helping get back on his feet working at the baseball field and YMCA. After getting his AA in Criminal Justice from Iowa Central Community College, he worked as a teacher’s associate at Fort Dodge Middle School assisting kids with behavior disorders while earning his bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University. Charles then worked at the Iowa State Police Association’s Rabiner Treatment Center and worked at the local youth shelter.
Charles is the co-founder and executive director of Athletics for Education & Success (AFES). Launched in 2004, the non-profit organization provides after school programs, sports teams, mentoring groups, drumline groups, education and cultural opportunities for kids and families. The goal is to teach kids to be leaders on and off the field while stressing the importance of education and living a positive lifestyle.
Beyond his non-profit, Charles has been an active member of the Fort Dodge community for decades. He has served on the Ft. Dodge Human Rights Commission and the local cultural diversity committee, Iowa Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee, and the Iowa Commission on Status of African Americans. He is also a member of the local NAACP and Masonic Temple in Fort Dodge.
Charles has three grown sons and one grandchild. His sister, Shirlely, lives in Kansas City and was in the Air Force. His younger sister, Jackie, passed a few years ago. He enjoys reading, coaching, sports, and spending time with his new grandchild.