Editor's note: The following column is co-authored venture capitalist Darren Blanton with an introduction by boxing world champion, Floyd Mayweather, to commemorate the founding of the Moblze Foundation. Moblze is dedicated to addressing problems associated with blight in America's inner cities. Both Mayweather and Blanton will speak at an inaugural kick off event for the Foundation Friday in Washington. The Moblze Foundation’s mission dovetails with the Trump administration’s priority of emphasizing opportunities of entrepreneurship and mentorship in the inner cities.
My boxing career has afforded me the opportunity to see life’s bigger picture. Twenty years ago, I was a young man from Grand Rapids, Michigan who worked day in and day out to become the best ever at my craft. I could have easily given up when the road became tough, but I never did. I wanted to set an example for my children that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. Today, I am blessed to experience success inside and out of the ring. When I was approached about the Moblze Foundation and what the group wanted to accomplish, it was an instant “yes.” We can all sit back, or pass judgment on people, but unless we are willing to get involved, we have no room to talk about the problem if we aren't willing to fix it.
Traveling from city to city and being able to help change the scope of communities, teaching parents to be strong for their families, and giving kids hope for a brighter future, is a journey I not only want to be a part of, but one I want to create. Young people deserve a bigger vision and brighter future…a stronger support system, a new game plan or just a little push in a different direction. I’m a firm believer in teaching people how to fish rather than fishing for them. I haven't always been perfect. But it is crucial that those of us who have experienced the hardships of the inner city and then became successful, be able to reach Americas youth with a message so they can learn and grow from our experiences. That is part of the whole life story of teaching others how to fish. Leading by example, building up others and helping them have access to higher opportunities are all important. Impacting someone’s life has no price and is a feeling that lasts a lifetime.
- Floyd Mayweather
Many cities are in “crisis mode,” wrestling with decay manifested in countless square miles of blighted city blocks. As property values diminish, municipalities are unable to collect the taxes needed to provide even the most basic city services. Grim statistics do not begin to describe the human toll, whether it is the factory worker who has dropped out of the labor force or the inner city youth who resorts to drugs for lack of hope.
Despite our profoundly different backgrounds, Floyd and I know we can do better. We share a common vision—a faith in the power of individuals from all walks of life—and a belief that we can succeed where the federal government has failed. We know that that, by relying more heavily on individual entrepreneurship and mentorship, as opposed to anonymous government support, we can do a better job of stabilizing communities, strengthening family bonds, and creating new job opportunities where they are desperately needed.
But we also know we need to simultaneously coalesce our national resources to enable local communities to wage the war on blight. That is why we, a five-division champion boxer and a Texas venture capitalist, have joined together with others to support Moblze Foundation, a non-partisan group with a mission to revitalize the urban core, city by city.
Moblze Foundation’s first initiative is to raise funds for the construction of Urban Empowerment Centers in inner city neighborhoods. Styled after Silicon Valley corporate headquarters, these facilities will focus on training the next generation of entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers. Collaborating with community stakeholders, we will lend resources and expertise to focus Moblze Foundation’s training on children and young adults.
As a home base for mentorship programs, vocational training, and programs that emphasize the basics of entrepreneurship, the Urban Empowerment Centers will be a safe haven, a foundation from which the citizens in the most needy areas can reach for higher ground. Through these Centers, Moblze Foundation will strive to reinforce the five pillars of community health: economic empowerment, health and wellness, public safety, educational enrichment and community development.
For too long, the road to prosperity for inner city kids has been bleak. They survive and, for them, survival is gangs, drugs and often violence—a path that too often ends in prison. But we offer them a different path, one filled with opportunity and the American dream.
That is why we have joined together and are now calling upon our friends and neighbors to take action by donating money, time, and resources. Moblze Foundation will also advocate for social impact bonds, a newer model for private investment in public programs that ensures private investor repayment if the social programs meet agreed upon goals. By combining government support with private support from philanthropists, non-profits, venture capitalists and corporations, we can deliver the American dream to those who have been left behind – city by city.
Visit the Moblze (pronounced "Mobilize") Foundation website at www.moblzefoundation.org, to learn more about its mission.