2019 Lyrics For Learning Competition Photo: Lemon-Lime Light Media

Society of Royals, a Houston-based non-profit, is partnering with local schools to provide support for grade school kids experiencing mental health challenges.

This year, the organization focused its efforts on the issue of youth suicides. According to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Leading Causes of Death Reports, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages 10 and 34 in the United States.

With the support of local celebrities and influencers like Rapper Slim Thug, National Media Personality Ferrari Simmons, and American Idol finalist Vincent Powell, the Society of Royals created a concept called “Love Letters,” writing notes to students to remind the youth of their value and self-worth during times of sadness and isolation. COVID-19 has made it difficult to host the activity but the partnership is considered a creative outreach technique.

(Left to Right-front) Sena Pierre-Society of Royals CEO, Houston R&B Singer-JaeRene (who recently passed in April 2021 as a casualty of a drunk driving accident), and Salena Shaw-IWILL Campaign VP
(Left to Right-back)Jarred Vanderbilt-Minnesota Timberwolves Player and Maurice Taylor-Former Houston Rockets Player Photo: Lemon-Lime Light Media

“I founded this non-profit in 2013 when two people close to me lost their lives to suicide, one in 2008 and the other in 2010, so this was my way of turning my pain to purpose, said CEO and President Sena Pierre. “This started off as an all-girls organization but it gained so much attention from principals, parents, and teachers, we eventually opened it up to everyone.”

In the last eight years, the Society of Royals has partnered with 55 school districts and impacted the lives of more than 9,000 students. It launched its “Royal Ambassadors” program to encourage students to launch their own chapters on campuses.

They also launched the IWILL Campaign, a curriculum-based program that connects students with mentors while focusing on topics such as bullying, healthy relationships, suicide, and social responsibility, as well as free counseling and scholarship opportunities.

“We are giving these kids a chance to interact with successful people who look and grew up in the same communities as them,” said Houston rapper DJ XO. “It makes me feel good to give back to my community because I didn’t have this growing up. It’s easier for young people to listen to those they look up to.”

Pierre says she hopes to impact more young people all across Texas by 2025. For now, the Society of Royals will continue pushing the ambassador program and plan events for September’s National Suicide Prevention Month.

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...