About Us

We help students break through, achieve excellence, and go further.

What We Do

Founded in 2013, Empower ME Academy provides a holistic training experience. Student-Athletes develop better basketball skills — and in addition, improve their attitude, commitment, and discipline. Ultimately, our Student-Athletes become well-rounded leaders and adults, successful on the court and in life.

Meet the Team

Our team is our family. Our concept is simple—from purpose to Impact. Our principle of working together is the foundation of how EMA operates to make a positive impact in the life of each Student-Athlete. Together, we share the same vision: to help change the culture of sports in the Bay Area… and beyond.

Each member of Empower ME Academy has a creative and critical role that ensures that we are all able to succeed together. All views are valued and respected which stimulates growth from top to bottom. The principle of working together with our families and communities establishes how we operate and further the growth of the business.

Coach Jerome Gumbs

Coach Jerome Gumbs


Today, most basketball trainers are trying to develop the next Stephen Curry. Coach Gumbs helps Student Athletes develop from the inside out. In doing so, he hope to help nurture the next Barack Obama—who just so happens to love basketball.

“A leader should not be measured by the number of followers they have, but by the number of leaders they nurture.”

- Coach Gumbs Read Coach Gumbs’ Full Story
Mary Rivers

Mary Rivers

Chief Administrative Officer

Mary Rivers is committed to organizational excellence through empowerment and a positive attitude. Her B.A. (Education), A.B.A. (Associate of Business Administration), and 35+ years of experience in high-level leadership and administrative office management provides the organizational skills necessary to assist in the development of the organization. Her love for providing top-level education, developing and empowering the youth, and focus on teamwork meshes perfectly with Jerome’s philosophy for the EMA program.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

- Maya Angelou
Alexandre Iljas

Alexandre Iljas

Assistant Empower ME Coach

Alexandre Iljas is a strong believer in the value of sports as a developmental education tool. Upon graduating with an International Baccalaureate and a high school diploma in 2008, Coach Alex started a career in coaching at the young age of 17. While attending the University of San Francisco as a Sociology major and African-American Studies minor, Coach Alex began coaching, training, and mentoring. Coach Alex has held Assistant and Head Coach positions, ranging from 3rd grade to high school Varsity levels. He is currently the Athletic Director at the Cathedral School for Boys.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

- Confucius
Sharena Taylor

Sharena Taylor

Assistant Empower ME Coach

Sharena Taylor believes in the power of sports to inspire, unite, change trajectories, and speak to youth in a language they understand. Sharena attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she played basketball on a full scholarship, earned a BS in Science, Technology, and Culture, helped her team reach the NCAA tournament 3 of the 4 years she was there and received the “Iron Athlete” award 2 years in a row. Over the past five years, Coach Sharena has been an Assistant Head Coach and is currently the Athletic Administrator and 10th Grade Pre-AP English Teacher at Kipp San Francisco College Prep.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

- Unknown
Excellence + Commitment + Family = Empower ME

Our Founder’s Story

Coach Jerome Gumbs leads a healthy lifestyle that revolves around making sure each Student-Athlete gets the support they need to succeed on the court and in life. The responsibility he carries in doing so is his greatest privilege.




Ready to join the
Empower ME Academy?

Awesome. We’re about something bigger than basketball. And we want you to be a part of it.

For our son Maddox, Empower ME has been the best and most important academic or athletic after school program.

Stephen Davis
Father of Maddox Davis
(HS Class of 2021)