Careshia Moore is the president and chief exec of Usher’s New Look (UNL), a unique 10-year leadership program that’s transforming the lives of under-resourced youth to become passion-driven, global leaders.
Starting in middle school, “UNL’s three-tiered, 10-year programming teaches teens how to find their spark, connect it to their studies, identify the right career, and be of service.” Founded by Grammy-winning artist Usher Raymond IV, the goal is to ensure every student graduates and uses their passions to serve their community. Now in its 20th year, the non-profit is going from strength to strength.
UrbanGeekz recently spoke with Moore about her career path and New Look’s upcoming 2019 Disruptivator Summit (July 24-26) at Emory University. The three-day event and job fair is free and open to youth and college students who will get the chance to engage with leading firms. Companies slated to attend include Accenture, Walmart, Home Depot, City of Atlanta, and Travelers, among others. Many of these firms are actively hiring and able to provide services directly related to career training, services, and products.
Why did you choose this career path?
I like to say that my career path certainly chose me. Since I was young, helping youth has been a huge part of what brought me joy and a sense of purpose. I was always counseling others and looking for ways to connect people with knowledge. While in college at the University of Florida, a friend and I coordinated a college tour with a group of local middle school students. We recruited our friends to take them to their classes and walk them around campus, solicited a local pizza company to donate pizzas for lunch and facilitated a discussion on why college was important. I had no idea I was preparing for what would one day become my job. I just knew the students needed to see themselves on a college campus so that they knew it was within their reach. Strategically creating opportunities where students gain access and exposure to new ways of thinking and being is what I love to do and I am blessed to have a career that allows me to do just that.
What do you like most about leading Usher’s New Look?
I work with the most passionate team that I have ever connected with. I can say that everyone on our staff is there because they believe in our cause. They are truly invested in the lives of the youth we impact and are intentional about carrying out the mission of developing passionate youth leaders. One of the most unique things about our organization is that we recognize the power of building relationships with our youth. It is important to have a team that does not view their role as transactional.
Who was the most influential person in your childhood? How did it impact your career choice?
In my childhood, the most influential person for me was my mother. I did not realize it then but observing her always helping family, friends, and strangers surely had an impact on the work I do now. My mother was the one to counsel cashiers while in the check-out line or drive around with shoes in her car so that she could hand them out to people who were in need. Countless people consider her their mentor. Even to this day, she manages a county agency that works to help families become self-sufficient and she is always innovative in her approach. I think about how she uplifts her community and takes pride in helping people become the best version of themselves and I realize that I am following in her footsteps.
“I like to say that my career path certainly chose me. Since I was young, helping youth has been a huge part of what brought me joy and a sense of purpose. I was always counseling others and looking for ways to connect people with knowledge.”
In terms of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which one excites you the most and why?
Although I view them as intertwined, science definitely excites me more. I am a bookworm and a researcher at heart. Science lends itself to gaining new knowledge, having discussions about various theories and applying that knowledge to determine innovative ways to solve problems. When I think back on my favorite subjects, I love the ologies – archaeology, paleontology, biology, etc. I think it is these studies that inform the new technology that connects us and makes our lives simpler, and the engineering of products that innovate new ways of operating.
What is Usher’s New Look’s coolest accomplishment to date?
Let me start by saying that I am differentiating between the most impressive and the coolest accomplishment. The most impressive accomplishment is maintaining our 100% high school graduation rate for those students who complete our high school Leadership Academy program. Now, the coolest accomplishment is the fact that our students are creating new networks of like-minded peers who they can support and who will support them as they navigate through life. As I have journeyed through this life, I know all too well that who you know is just as important as what you know. For many of our students, the relationships they can leverage to obtain internships or obtain capital to start a business is limited. But observing how they build relationships with our supporters and each other is the coolest thing! Our students now can say that they have relationships with entrepreneurs, accountants, business owners, CEOs, and the like. Usher’s New Look very much becomes a family and the relationships our students build truly help change the trajectory of their lives.
In terms of the activities this July at Emory, what is the anticipated impact on students as it relates to STEM education and careers?
On the first day of the Disruptivator Summit, students will venture out on excursions to various business locations. During registration, students are able to select tracts and several of them relate to the STEM field, such as Environmental, Technology, Film, and Music. I include the arts because we know that even these disciplines have components of STEM infused. We are excited that the students will have the opportunity to see how all industries utilize technology to innovate and disrupt. Additionally, we will host a Career Expo on the last day of the Summit that will provide participants the opportunity to learn about STEM-related jobs and internships and even interview for some on the spot.
Where do you see the organization in the next five years?
Over the next five years, Usher’s New Look will continue to put youth on the path to success through immersive experiences with our curriculum and the unique engagement opportunities. We will expand our partnerships with corporations and organizations to continue to create a pipeline of our young leaders to [reach] some of the best businesses and entrepreneur incubators in the world. We will increase the number of youth we impact by expanding partnerships with school districts and providing services and opportunities in under-resourced neighborhoods. After 20 years of impacting the lives of young leaders, we have discovered solutions that can really transform the lives of teens. We will disrupt systems with these solutions and be an integral part of the work on eliminating the wealth gap for the next generation.