Matthew Okebiyi, Founder & CEO
Matthew Okebiyi is the founder and currently serves as the CEO of the African American Planning Commission, a New York City-based 501(C)(3), not-for-profit organization.
About The Founder
A long time resident of Brooklyn, Matt attended college on a full-time basis while working two jobs. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts, pursued advanced studies and simultaneously earned two Master’s degrees: one in Urban Planning and the other in Political Science. Matt completed his Master’s level training in Mental Health at Hunter College School of Social Work in New York City. He pursued advanced studies earning two doctorates, one in International Relations and the other in African American Studies.
Prior to founding the African American Planning Commission, Matt worked for and/or was a consultant to organizations such as Volunteers of America – Greater NY, Inc, (VOA-GNY), Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York (Catholic Charities), the Bushwick Economic Development Corporation (BEDCo), Oceanhill Brownsville Tenants Association (OHBTA), Urban Strategies, Inc., (USI) and the 163rd Street Improvement Council (the “Council”). Matt also served as a Program Officer with the NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA), where he had oversight responsibilities for twenty-five (25) contracted nonprofit organizations in all five NYC boroughs.
In his capacity as Project Director for a number of private, nonprofit organizations, Matt sought funding from a variety of sources and developed several multi-year, multi-million dollar programs, including a transitional shelter for homeless women with histories of substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, and mental health disorders; a homeless outreach program serving the immediate and on-going needs of street-dwelling, chronically homeless men and women living on the streets, subways and other encampments in all five boroughs of New York City; and a comprehensive job training program for a varied population of homeless individuals and the general public.
During his tenure with one not-for-profit organization, Matt single-handedly increased their total assets from $1.2 million to over $30 million within a three-year period. The invaluable experience gained from working for many years in the nonprofit sector encouraged him to pursue his passion for helping the community and helping others – and under Matt’s leadership, perseverance, focus, and determination, the African American Planning Commission was born.
Matt says, “Starting and seeking funding to operate a not-for-profit organization has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding endeavors I have ever undertaken. The process has taught me so much about the political process and has afforded me the opportunity to meet a varied cast of human characters.”
In addition to his professional undertakings, Matt voluntarily mentors and tutors undergraduate and post-graduate students in his spare time and all have received their Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degrees under his guidance. He has also volunteered with various food banks and pantries, as well as Children’s Literacy programs.
Community Development Initiatives
As Founder and CEO, Matt, along with the governing Board of Directors have established an ambitious agenda for the corporation which would involve the development of the following:
a transitional (Tier II) shelter with on- and off-site supportive services for homeless survivors of domestic violence and their minor children.
- a mix of affordable rental housing and permanent supportive rental housing for low-income working single adults and families from the community, and supportive housing for special needs homeless populations to include homeless vets, homeless families and single adult New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, mental health disorders, and those recovering from chronic histories of substance abuse.
- a permanent residence for seniors, 62 years of age or older.
- a permanent residence for Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY) aged 13-21.
- an economic development corporation aimed at job creation for community residents and all New Yorkers.
Serenity House Family Residence was the first of the organization’s ambitious undertaking.
Today, AAPC has grown exponentially – from a dedicated volunteer staff of one with nothing but a vision and a zero operating budget, working out of borrowed office space in 1996, to thirty-six full and part-time employees in 2016.
AAPC is funded, in part, by New York State and New York City government grants and anonymous donations. Visit our donation page and consider making a tax-deductible donation in any amount you wish. No amount is too small and all donations are truly appreciated!
All donations to AAPCI, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, are tax-deductible to the extent permissible by U.S. laws. We thank you for your generosity!
Community Service Awards
- In 2002, Matt received the “Spirit of Hope” award from American Hope for his community service efforts.
- In 2002, Matt was one of the recipients of The Network Journal‘s (TNJ) “40-Under-Forty” Achievement Award at its fifth annual celebration. The award was presented to him for his service to the community and for his dedication to the mission of the African American Planning Commission.
- In 2005, Matt was honored by Jack and Jill of America, Inc. (Eastern Region) at its 55th Eastern Regional Teen Conference for AAPCI’s work with teenage victims of relationship abuse. Matt donated his cash award to AAPCI.
- In 2011, Matt was the recipient of the “Man of the Year” award presented by Key Women of America, Inc., (Brooklyn Branch). The award pays tribute to worthy individuals for their notable accomplishments and public service. At the same ceremony, Matt was presented with a “Proclamation” by Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz.
- In 2012, Matt was the recipient of a “U.S. Congressional Record of Honor” presented to him by the Honorable Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns for his outstanding community service.
Q&A With Founder & CEO, Matthew Okebiyi