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At 'Honor Roll Athletics' inside the Mall of America, it's all about the youth

The youth-driven clothing brand got its own storefront at Mall of America in March with a focus on supporting teens in north Minneapolis.

BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota — Honor Roll Athletics is making a statement that goes beyond fashion.

The youth-driven business got its own storefront at the Mall of America in March with a focus on supporting teens in north Minneapolis.

"We believed that in 12 months we were going to have our own store and we were able to do it in 10," said Charles Caine, owner and founder of Honor Roll Athletics.

Caine, a father to three boys, said the business was born out of his organization Brothers EMpowered and its Youth EMpowerment initiative.

"We mentor youth boys based out of north Minneapolis. We were at a fundraiser, we were just raising funds for our backpack giveaway and we came up with a concept of how to build something that they can learn economic development," Caine said. "They can also fundraise and it can create job opportunities for them."

They came up with their own clothing brand, mixing athleticism with academics.

"So making a fashion statement out of academic excellence," Caine said.

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Charles Caine helps a customer inside Honor Roll Athletics at the Mall of America.

The youth social enterprise got its start in 2021 at Northtown Mall in Blaine as one of the vendors at the pop-up market called Bread.

From there, it moved to Community Commons at Mall of America before getting its own storefront in the beginning of March.

"Being that we just launched the business two years ago and now we're in the greatest mall in the world with our own storefront, it's just a testament to the boys that they can do anything that they put their mind to," Caine said.

Caine's sister, Marcia Kroma, is the general manager at Honor Roll Athletics. She said she's seen a change in the teenagers connected to Honor Roll Athletics.

"A lot of the kids that came in, the first thing we asked them, 'What do you want to do with your life? What do you have planned for your future?' They'll say, 'I don't know.' They'll just shrug their shoulders," Kroma recalled. "Now they're wanting to be entrepreneurs and business owners and community leaders."

Caine said the teenagers involved do everything from helping design the clothes and voting on certain looks, to working at the store.

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Charles Caine, founder and owner of Honor Roll Athletics.

Natasha Fertil visited the store on Wednesday. She has a 14-year-old son who plays football and basketball.

"As a parent, it's very important. What the store and what he's doing is great because it shows that someone is paying attention to the importance of children growing up, especially young men. So it kind of touched me in a certain area," Fertil said.

10% of proceeds from the store go back to youth development in north Minneapolis.

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
10% of proceeds form the store go back to youth development in north Minneapolis.

"It's been amazing because I was one of those troubled kids. Growing up in high school I was lost and I felt abandoned and I felt that the only family I really had was the streets," Caine said. "So I was misguided. I had a good family, good household but I was misguided by the things that were going on in my community. So to be in this position is very humbling and so surreal years later to be able to impact the lives of these young people so they don't have to go through the journey that I went through."

Through May 1, Honor Roll Athletics is offering 10% off anything in the store for all students, educators and coaches. There's also a game you can play for a chance to win an Honor Roll Athletics backpack.

Honor Roll Athletics
Mall of America
382 North Garden

Know a local business we should feature for our Behind the Business segment? Email Heidi Wigdahl at hwigdahl@kare11.com.

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