A week ago, the attendees of MalamaDoe’s Fireside Chat were treated to a wonderful experience. We heard the story of how a true Grass Roots Activist came to make an impact in our city. We had the great pleasure of having Sharlen Moore tell us the inspiring story of how she organized young people to make an impact in their communities. Sharlen rejuvenated her hometown of Milwaukee, one of the most segregated in the country, by giving the youth in Milwaukee a voice and an opportunity to make change. She gave them a place where they can be with young adults who care about their well-being and make sure they are respected.
Co-founded in 2000, Urban Underground taps the creative
intelligence of young people to change the conditions of their
environment through a social justice approach. With having
amazing staff, which is key to a successful program, Sharlen
encouraged youth to use their leadership gifts by creating a
youth leadership program inspired by the program her and her
peers founded at the YMCA in Milwaukee. And her efforts succeeded.
Sharlen’s creation of Urban Underground has led to a new generation of leaders in our community. Over the past 18 years, Sharlen and her staff have been teaching youth how to engage in dialogue on challenging issues which has led them to have meaningful experiences and become leaders throughout Milwaukee and in life.
As we listened, we were able to sample from our ingenious last-minute sponsor, Insomnia Cookies, who dropped off cookies right before the event! Thanks Insomnia! However, with Sharlen’s vivacious nature, we did not need anything to keep us alert as her storytelling skills are superb. However, Sharlen’s work is not done. We all know that children grow up and need an adult in the home as a nurturer, protector, and advocate. When they do not have that, understandably, they make poor choices.
With the volatile climate of incarcerated youth in Wisconsin’s youth prisons, Sharlen became one of the founding members of Youth Justice Milwaukee (YJM). YJM is a broad-based campaign advocating for the creation of community-based, restorative programs as alternatives to locking up children in Wisconsin prisons. As the night went on, the overwhelming need of children in Milwaukee was apparent as well as how we all can help shape the future of our youth with small actions. One such way to help is with the below signup where you can take small or large steps such as sharing info on social media, hosting a talk, speaking at a press conference, etc. Please take a minute to sign up to help out and forward on to friends via social media.: https://www.youthjusticemke.org/about/join-the-movement/
Finally, the very night Sharlen spoke, PBS Newshour put on a segment which is basically Sharlen teaching the youth of Milwaukee in a college setting (Rutgers University) and inspiring them to have major impact in their communities through a great program (Honors Living Learning Community). Please watch and be inspired to make a change in our community and help Sharlen in the process: https://www.thirteen.org/programs/pbs-newshour/rethinkingcollege- 1539725787/
Since we are now inspired, here are some tips from Sharlen to grow our own businesses.
-Ensure your staff can connect with your target market by paying attention to age and other demographics.
-Stay true to your mission and be careful the money you accept does not compromise that.
-Try reign in expenses and create infrastructure to help grow with partner organizations.
In Sharlen’s chat, we learned how one person’s voice can make a huge impact in our community to transform the lives of countless youth. Milwaukee has become a smaller and friendlier place because of Sharlen’s efforts and her generous, kind spirit.
I especially wanted to thank Sharlen for her time, enthusiasm, and passion that she puts into helping the youth in Milwaukee and inspiring us all to take action! To best help our youth in Milwaukee we need to support @UUnderground on Twitter and Facebook and @YJMKE on Facebook and use the hashtag #YouthJusticeMKE.
Please promote Sharlen and Youth Justice Milwaukee and Urban Underground on social media and share her story and thank her for speaking at MalamaDoe and educating us all. With the actions of each of us, we can make our community stronger. Thanks to Sharlen for being a beacon of hope for all in Milwaukee who have had the privilege of being led by her.
If you need to surrounded by a supportive community of leaders, please contact us at MalamaDoe for a tour.
We have three different memberships available: reserved desk space, hot pods, and club – all of whom have access to our amazing interns. MalamaDoe is an inclusive, supportive and welcoming community.