This manuscript focuses on the recruitment efforts and pilot testing of a culturally tailored motivational interviewing intervention associated with the AAKOMA Project, a 2-phase treatment engagement intervention trial for depressed African American adolescents and families. The research team used strategic community engagement as reported in other research derived from AAKOMA. For the pilot study, the research team recruited 23 youth, enrolled 17 youth and randomized 16 of those youth to either the intervention or a delayed control group. Findings indicated that success in recruiting and retaining African American youth was sustained from earlier strategic engagement during Phase I of the project and that schools and self referrals were the largest referral sources. Pilot intervention findings highlight the preliminary utility of the intervention (100% of youth completing the intervention initiated depression treatment compared to 75% of the delayed control group) and factors that support the recruitment and engagement of a typically difficult to reach population (depressed African American youth and families). Overall, findings set the stage for further intervention development and testing in larger samples.