IRON Lives, Inc. is a nonprofit that began as an after-school meeting back in 2009. Derrick Brown, a teacher at Amherst County High School at the time, invited several male students to the first meeting with the question, “Would you like to become a better man?”

what does iron lives do?

 IRON Lives is a non profit organization providing Positive Youth Development programming for public schools in Central Virginia. IRON Lives seeks to equip youth with the skills and character traits necessary to overcome negativity in their own lives and in the community. 


IRON stands for I am Responsible for Overcoming Negativity. Through the development of the six "Cs" of Positive Youth Development (Character, Care, Competence, Confidence, Connection and Contribution) IRON Lives seeks to provide the tools for students to make good choices.  

IRON Lives staff members and volunteers take action on this mission by: 

● Creating positive opportunities, 

● Developing leadership potential, 

● Building character, 

● Engaging youth in community service projects to promote     selflessness.


The program has components for both boys and girls.  IRON and TIN are programs geared towards boys in the high schools and middle schools respectively and DIAMONDS and RUBIES are the programs geared towards girls in the high schools and middle schools respectively.   

mission & vision

VISION: For Central Virginia to be a positive community with a skilled workforce full of engaged citizens and thriving families.

MISSION: To be a bridge between students and their community by providing positive youth development, committed mentoring, and character-centered athletics.

From the Founder

-- the story of IRON --

Born and raised in Amherst, Virginia, Derrick Brown has always had the desire to serve his community in a major way. As the son of supportive parents, Derrick learned early in life that character makes a difference.  With the original aspiration of becoming a dentist, he devoted himself to his goal of gaining acceptance to dental school. His efforts led to two consecutive interviews for 1 of 10 seats at Meharry Medical College’s Dental School. However, he was not granted admission.

While he continued his quest to become a dentist, he was granted the privilege of teaching high school biology at Amherst County High School. During his first year of teaching, he coached Track and Field. He describes his first year as an eye-opening experience, for he saw two types of students that he felt compelled to help:

1) Students with immense talent and potential, who were choosing to waste that talent.

2) Students who were good kids, but just didn’t have the vehicle to take them to greatness.

With these observations heavy on his heart, he started to fill out the application for dental school one last time. He made it halfway through the application before he asked himself, “What can I accomplish as a dentist that is more meaningful than what I am doing now?” His answer was, "Nothing!" He then deleted the application and vowed to devote his life to education and character development.

In an effort to decrease the negative pressures of high school and increase the number of positive opportunities for students, Derrick founded IRON, and the rest is history (in the making).