Welcome to 10 Questions with… a recurring series from FCP Euro where we speak with members of the automotive community from all over the globe. This one is a little different, as we expand our scope and speak with Gerald Moore, founder of Mission Fulfilled 2030. MF2030 is the manifestation of Gerald’s vision to positively impact the lives of young Black boys and disadvantaged students and provide opportunities for them to enter into the tech economy, as well as assist with access to technology for distance learning. FCP Euro is partnering with Mission Fulfilled 2030 to help bring awareness to the cause and help achieve this vision.
FCP Euro: What motivated you to get involved in education and to create Mission Fulfilled 2030?
Gerald Moore: As a youth basketball coach, I started teaching technology and app development to my son's basketball team. Black males make up less than 5% of the high-tech and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workforce. Considering that as an engineer, I'm typically the only Black face in the room, I knew that I could make a future difference with the boys that I was coaching and training.
I had parents that were asking if other family members or neighbors could participate in the program with the basketball team. This was the light bulb moment where I decided to create the Online Tech School for Black Boys. The school's initial pilot was successful and caught the attention of Black Enterprise Magazine, which gave exposure to the program. Because I wanted more boys to have free access to the program, I created MF2030 to help get funding to provide free programs for disadvantaged and underserved Black boys.
FCP Euro: What is Mission Fulfilled 2030, and what are your goals as an organization?
Gerald Moore: Mission Fulfilled 2030 is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization with a Vision to Inspire, Educate & Activate Black boys in digital technologies and STEM. The complete vision of Mission Fulfilled 2030 is to impact 100,000 boys in technology, engage 10,000 men as mentors, and activate 1,000 companies to provide funding, internships, and employment opportunities. This is a big vision in which FCP Euro has entered on the ground floor. I project being on track to engaging 10,000 boys per year by year two. A leading consulting firm, Korn Ferry, predicts that by 2030 there will be over 1,000,000 unfilled jobs in technology. I believe we will see our graduates accepting opportunities that make a dent in the income/wealth gap, bridging the digital divide, and being capable of filling a big part of that workforce shortage. In turn, increasing the percentage of Black males in digital technology and participating in tech as entrepreneurs.
FCP Euro: We're thrilled to be a part of MF2030 and making a positive impact on the lives of young Black boys. What are the different kinds of programs that MF2030 offers, and how are you working to achieve your vision?
Gerald Moore: There's a couple of things that we're doing to achieve our goal. We have a learning management platform that we run through the Tech School for Black Boys, and with that platform, we're digitally educating. We have a young tech entrepreneurs program where we teach boys how to conceptualize and leverage open source tools, develop their own tech app or website, or sell a product like a t-shirt where they don't actually have to touch the product. So that's the baseline of entrepreneurship.
We have a computer science program where we're teaching coding, cybersecurity, and other entry-level IT skills. And then we have our mentorship portion with mentors within the different programs, and FCP Euro is going to be a part of that. We're going to engage in teaching entry-level programming in your trade, such as intro to automotive tech.
We also have the "Technology to Manhood" lecture series, where we interview companies like FCP Euro and interview African American males or other men of color in the technology fields. Again, we also engage companies like FCP Euro to help facilitate and bring in interns or provide additional training opportunities for boys to transition into these companies. So our goal is to engage a thousand companies to provide internships, education, and, ultimately, jobs.
FCP Euro: Given the challenges we've seen with COVID-19 and remote learning, simple access to technology seems it could potentially be a major roadblock for students coming from a more disadvantaged background. Your recent efforts in Baltimore City seem to be addressing this problem head-on. How much of an issue is simple access to technology, and how can people help?
Gerald Moore: COVID has brought a whole new set of circumstances that we have to deal with. Pre-COVID, you could always go to the library. Some libraries are open these days, some are closed, but most of us have some type of smartphone, and most of our programming can be taken on a smartphone.
A colleague of mine reached out to me last week and said that he knew of a Baltimore City teacher who couldn't get Chromebooks for her students. There were kids who have been on a waitlist ever since last March when the pandemic first kicked off. They just started school again this year, and some of the kids are trying to work on cell phones, and some kids really didn't have anything at all. She reached out to me, and that's something I could do as part of the program to support these students in need, so I ordered ten Chromebooks and took them in to donate them.
I'm a member of a national African American male teachers organization group, and a colleague told me of an organization he works with in L.A., with students in need. So with the success of the ten in Baltimore, I said, let's see if we can provide one-hundred. We started the MF230 Student Fund Challenge to give away one-hundred Chromebooks for kids nationwide. People can donate now to be part of this and positively impact kids' lives right now. Somebody asked me, 'Well, why can't schools do it?' The schools have to deal with all the bureaucracy of the system. It's not that hard, and that's why grassroots organizations like mine are so important. I can go into action and not have to go through the layers of bureaucracy to get things done.
We're trying to work with other organizations too, such as the majority of our Internet Service Providers; they actually offer free internet if you are enrolled in a title one school from a disadvantaged situation.
So there are solutions that we're trying to work out, and there are different scenarios depending on where you're geographically located.
FCP Euro: Since we're all so surrounded by technology and because kids today have such a familiarity with tech, have you found that students are able to apply what they're learning more quickly? And does that kind of practical application provide a more immediate connection in terms of establishing a passion for these kinds of careers?
Gerald Moore: Absolutely. With our young tech entrepreneurs program, we take kids as early as eight-years-old, and we teach them how to use Canva, a free graphic design tool they can use to come up with a design. We then teach them how to upload that design to a website like Teespring, and they can sell it immediately without having to touch the product. We help the kids make a design, help them put it out, and then teach them how to market it, even if it's just his family on social media. And then we actually buy it—we become their first customer. When you set them up to do this and set up the accounts so they can get paid and become their first customer, that changes what they believe is their ability to earn, even at that age.
So at a very basic level, we can teach entrepreneurship and how to basically start a tech company now simply by that process and our young tech entrepreneurs program. That changes the mindset of what you can actually do and how long it takes to do it. When you teach an eight-year-old how to create a product and sell it, he may not ever turn back. Entrepreneurship may be the only thing that he ever does from that point forward.
Now that you know how to do this for yourself and have this skill, what if you did the same for someone else? Now you're in business. You're an entrepreneur. In tech, it's the same thing with app development and website design. Once you're taught how to build a website, well, what if you went up to the corner store, and it doesn't have a website? You help them build their website for a thousand dollars, with the skills that you have right now,—it's just the mind shift that immediately happens. This becomes something that these boys want to do; there's immediate gratification increasing the amount of effort and work they're willing to put in, and increases the level they work at.
FCP Euro: How did you get involved in the technology field?
Gerald Moore: As a young boy, I had to open any electronic devices I owned to see what was inside and try to figure out how things worked. That led me as a teen to begin to learn more about circuit boards and electronics. I also had a passion for how sound worked, and I began to design and install complex aftermarket automotive sound-systems.
I went to a vocational high school where I studied electronics and electricity for three years prior to going to college. I would have probably been better off not going to college and just becoming a licensed electrician and rolling into my own business—I wouldn't have come out with a hundred thousand dollars of debt, just to make the same starting salary. While our focus is STEM, we're still pushing the skilled trades in relation to automotive technology, plumbing, and electricity. These are skilled trades that are very high paying and offer a sustainable opportunity.
Even though some call these vocational trades old, we're calling them a new opportunity. It's the new opportunity, especially for young Black males, because right now in school they promote college. 'You've got to go to college in order to be successful.' Well, that's not true, right? In order to be successful, you need to find something that you love and do it the best that you can.
FCP Euro: The Gerald Moore Online Technology School for Black Boys was recently CompTIA certified. What does that mean for MF2030, for the school, and for students who graduate from the program?
Gerald Moore: CompTIA is the foremost authority of IT certification. What that partnership means for us is that they give us access to their training materials and allow us to put boys through their training to prepare them for their certification exam. They also give us discounts on those exams, and they give us access to their instructors. Once you have that certification, that basically qualifies you for an entry-level job on a help desk or something like that, with a starting salary of about $40,000 to $45,000. Somebody coming out of high school, if you have your IT fundamental certification, and you can roll into a $45,000 job, that definitely beats working at McDonald's.
Say a young man graduates, and he has an IT Fundamentals Certification for year one. He takes that, and he gets a help desk job. For year two, he completes his A+ certification. Let's say year three, he's moving up in the organization, and because most of our tech companies will pay for your education, he decides he's willing to get his Network Plus Certification. So where he would be a junior in college and potentially $100,000 in debt, he's now at a $70,000 to $80,000 salary range, without college and simply three certifications.
Now, I'm not telling kids not to go to college. What I'm telling kids is there's a new way. Think about you at 18-years-old and think about you at 23. You're totally different at 23, you're working for this company, you are a more mature man, and you have these three to four certifications that are internationally valued. If you want to take your skillset to the management level, that may require you to get a degree, but now you're with a company that's potentially going to pay for your bachelor's degree, and it's not coming out of your pocket.
If our model is still just 'go to college and get a computer science or engineering degree,' those colleges will not lower their standard or barrier of entry. If our entry barrier is still there, then our pipeline will remain the same because we're not inclusive for that 'C' student. I was a 'D' student myself; I would have never been accepted to anybody's engineering or computer science program. 'C' students, they're not going to be accepted in anybody's computer science or engineering program either. So if the majority of our students aren't even identified to get into a program, that's going to basically invalidate them as proficient, then they're never going to be able to catch up.
Because of my path, I have an understanding that just because someone is not performing in school, that doesn't mean that they do not have the aptitude for building an app or starting a tech company. It's about finding the right motivations. Black males make up one percent of the public school workforce. The majority of schools don't have a computer scientist or an engineer in their building; therefore, schools are not equipped to present Black boys the opportunity that I present with Mission Fulfilled 2030. It's my journey that fuels my passion for helping as many boys as I can.
FCP Euro: What's been the most rewarding moment for you so far?
Gerald Moore: When COVID-19 pandemic hit. I was preparing for a live workshop in partnership with Washington Football Team's Santana Moss. But as the country shut down and schools closed, I knew I had to do something to pivot and keep the program's momentum. Therefore I launched a free online Intro To Computer Science Program for Black boys, as statistically, this group is last in the major categories for reading and math. I ended up with over 200 boys in this course, including kids from Canada, the UK, and Africa. With that one move, I went from a local program to an international program. This is where I realized the true impact that I could make. And when I began to get letters from mothers thanking me because their sons were telling them that 'Coach Moore said they were engineers,' that keeps me grinding every day to make the program bigger and better.
I actually started my distance learning journey way back in 2017, so I was kind of at the forefront for when schools shut down. It's been a blessing for Mission Fulfilled in that more people respect what we're doing now on the digital platform side. It absolutely expedited the acceptance of what we're doing digitally. Now we're forced into this new normal, where we can still accomplish what we need to accomplish, but in the digital realm. COVID would definitely be a catalyst for me being able to go full time, but the future was always digital.
FCP Euro: What kind of intrinsic value does MF2030 and specifically the Technology School for Black Boys provide the Black community beyond just education and certification, that may not be immediately obvious to those just learning about it?
Gerald Moore: When I say the Tech School for Black Boys, some people get offended and say, 'Well, why is it just Black boys?' It's because it makes young Black men feel like, 'Hey, I'm a part of something that's for us.' These are the kids, and these are the people that need that focus. These boys that we're helping need to see that they belong and need to see that they're supported—that there's a place specifically for them where they know they're going to be taken seriously. And they know that they're going to be able to better themselves by participating and being a part of it.
Then there's a level of comfort. In schools, we'll take an African American boy who's really smart and take them from his environment and say, 'You're really smart, we need to put you in this other program,' where he's the only Black kid there. Now you're really working on his confidence, his feeling of acceptance. He feels like he's being looked at differently all the time. Going and putting them with the 'smart' kids where potentially the majority are White students is mentally challenging. It gives a level of insecurity that now you may not want to continue on that path because you're uncomfortable in that environment, or feel like you have to change to fit in.
FCP Euro: What are the best ways that people can get involved with MF2030?
Gerald Moore: The best ways that people can champion MF2030 is by making a donation through our website at www.missionfulfilled2030.org or participating in our other fundraising campaigns. If you would like to volunteer, there is also a form to complete on the website. Sharing MF2030 via social media is also a huge help in getting the message out. It's the people who are the real heroes, and supporting Mission Fulfilled 2030 will help the nation become a better place as we help disadvantaged and underserved boys gain more equitable opportunities to help rebuild communities.
For more information, to help, volunteer, or assist with Mission Fulfilled 2030 and the Gerald Moore Online Technology School for Black Boys, go to www.missionfulfilled2030.org, www.geraldmooretechnologyschoolforblackboys.com, and the Mission Fulfilled 2030 Instagram account.
FCP Euro's Event Director by day, writer and contributor by night, and wanna-be race car driver on the weekends. Nathan has been working in the VW and Audi performance aftermarket for nearly two decades, and dabbled with Porsche and BMW. He also used to write under the pen-name of Alex Rogan for magazines like Eurotuner, Performance VW, Total 911, and European Car. He has a Cornflower Blue Rabbit Edition GTI daily driver which is surprisingly still mostly stock, and a Mk5 GTI track car which is mostly not. ••• Instagram: @njbrown55