Credit: Us Weekly
When one thinks of who a philanthropist might be, we imagine the type we see on television: a person who walked into a family business or came upon a large sum of money. Perhaps this person has actually worked to maintain their wealth, perhaps they haven’t, but their path to wealth was, by comparison, a walk in the park when one considers their own financial security. Many of us never even dream that maybe we could become a philanthropist one day.
When philanthropist Wes Moore was a boy, it’s likely he held the exact same vein of thought. Moore didn’t grow up a trust fund baby. His parents weren’t successful businesspeople. Moore grew up straddling the poverty line in the cities of Baltimore and New York City’s Bronx.
At just four years old, his father died from a curable virus, all because he wasn’t given the medical treatment he required. Moore’s mother worked three jobs to afford raising children on her own, and to send these children to a private school in New York City. But things weren’t easy for Moore. As a young teen, he was regularly in and out of trouble. It got to a point that Moore’s mother felt the only solution was to ask his grandparents to take out a loan in order to send the boy to military school. Perhaps at the time, Moore was disgruntled by the decision. He had no idea this choice would end up shaping his entire life.
Moore graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Valley Forge Military College and Phi Beta Kappa from John Hopkins University. Following his education, Moore served as a captain and paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan. Upon returning to the United States, Moore served as a White House Fellow to former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
Though his substantive careers as a news analyst and producer and host for both OWN and CNN were satisfying in their own right, it is evident by the novels he authored that his heart is with the people. The Work, Discovering Wes Moore, This Way Home, and The Other Side of Wes Moore all involve his own experiences growing up in low income areas, the latter taking a more creative approach by following two boys of the same name—one who becomes a Rhodes Scholar, the other who ends up in prison.
This desire to help others is what brought Wes Moore serve as founder and CEO of BridgeEdU, a platform that addresses the college completion and job placement crisis many young men and women face through high tech support. But that desire was not easily satiated. In 2012, Moore Robin Hood’s Veterans Advisory Board, which was designed to bring military, non-profit, and government leaders together and provide veterans living in poverty the assistance they deserve.
“It is not lost on me that the neighborhood that I came up in was also one of the first neighborhoods that Robin Hood invested in,” Wes Moore says. “I consider it a kind of full circle opportunity to be able to come work with an organization that I really believe in my heart saw something in me before I was able to see it in myself.”
Robin Hood is one of the largest poverty-fighting organizations in New York. The organization works with a number of non-profits to provide hundreds of thousands of struggling New Yorkers the resources they need to fight hunger, secure jobs, and stay off the streets in housing. Robin Hood funnels money into education, economic security, basic needs, research, and more to help reach these goals.
In 2017, Moore took the fight against poverty into his own hands and became CEO of Robin Hood. After seeing all the life-changing work Robin Hood put out into the world, Moore wanted to be a part of that change. His life experience connects him to the people he strives to help, allowing him insight that many other executives may not have.
With two years under his belt as one of the heads of the organization, Moore has helped families across New York find solutions to low-income problems the city faces. Through food, education, and resources, Moore is giving men, women, and children the support he was lucky enough to receive.
“Robin Hood was built on a foundation of heart and brains. It is about recognizing the basic humanity that resides in every single person and most importantly, the least fortunate among us,” Paul Tudor Jones, co-founder of Robin Hood says. “Wes is the PERFECT culture carrier to continue our tradition.”