#215 – Archetypal Work with Inner-City Youth with Kwame Scruggs

photo of Kwame Scruggsphoto of Kwame Scruggs and boys


G. Kwame Scruggs, Ph.D. is the founder and executive director of Alchemy, Inc., a tax-exempt nonprofit organization based in Akron, Ohio, that he established in 2003 to assist urban male youth to develop a sense of personal purpose in life, while utilizing strategies to successfully function as members of a family, school, community and the world-at-large. He came up with the idea to create Alchemy several years ago when he was working as a counselor with high school dropouts. After telling a story to the young men, he was asked to tell another story. He realized then that he had found a way for them to connect the messages and characters of the stories he told with the people and issues within their own lives. From that moment, Kwame began his own journey of self-fulfillment, learning and confirmation of his professional aspirations. Under his leadership, Alchemy was founded and today it is a nationally recognized program that combines mythological traditions, drumming, academic support, cultural enrichment and the guidance of a team of highly accomplished and caring male mentors to encourage and equip middle and high school adolescent males to develop their full potential, serve others and find their place in life. Alchemy’s name is derived from the ancient art of chemical transformation in which medieval alchemists attempted to transform a lower base metal or prima materia, into gold, called the Philosopher’s Stone. Alchemy works to transform prima materia (urban male youth) into the Philosopher’s Stone (the gold inherent within our youth).

Kwame became interested in studying and using mythology to connect with youth after being initiated into the Akan System of Life Cycle Development (African-based rites of passage) and reading the works of Carl G. Jung whose work addressed the concept of the collective unconscious. Jung’s work led Kwame on a reading journey that included the works of Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth) and Michael Meade (Men and the Water of Life). These and other readings confirmed his desire to pursue the use of myth in his work with youth. It also strengthened his educational aspirations. Kwame holds a Ph.D. and M.A. Degree in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. In addition he holds a M.S. Degree in Technical Education with an emphasis in guidance and counseling from the University of Akron.

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A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.



  1. James M. K. Spriggs
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the service that you provide for the general population to hear about the work that individuals such as Dr. G. Kwame Scruggs are performing.

    His youth based group, Alchemy, is a needed and effective program for an oft forgotten segment of the U.S. population — urban youth. However, this program is an abbreviated insertion into the lives of young males that has models that are many centuries old.

    Kwame mentioned the Akan and their Rites of Passage rituals that spawned the programs that influenced him. This culture and its connection to the Ancient Kemtan (Egypt) Mystery Schools could serve as an interesting stand alone subject.

    Thank you,

    J. Kwesie Spriggs

    P.S.: Be sure to question Michael Meade about his connection to Patrice Maladoma Some’ — himself a descendant of migrants from ancient Kemet.

  2. shnakaron Gambi
    Posted August 16, 2009 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    A very inspirational story. Dr Scruggs is a man of honor and compassion. A man that cares about others and shows it in his work.

    Thank you Dr Dave and Dr Scruggs.

  3. Kelley Chapman
    Posted March 27, 2010 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Dear Dr. Scruggs,
    Inspirational and motivational. You are , as you are aware I am sure, assisting in the Psychological shift that is so needed for youth in todays culture. I have been blessed to listen to you and visit your web page. May your Your heart and passion for this work continue to grow as you inspire others, may they embrace your passions and so your work encompasses many souls towards wholeness.
    Thankyou for being you.

  4. Posted June 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed listening to this interview and found Dr Scruggs very inspirational. I work for at programme with “at risk” youth in New Zealand and so many of the things he mentioned rang true to me in relation to the owrk I do. I think that the idea of using myths and story telling as a tool for discussing the lessons of life with young people was really powerful.
    I would love to look at implementing something like this here and was wondering if Dr Scruggs sent through the stories and questions as he said he might?

    Thanks again Dr Scruggs and Dr Dave for all that you do!

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