Founder Gerald Moore Sr. always tells people that he was an engineer at 10 years old, constantly tinkering, designing and even occasionally blowing stuff up.
“I read a lot about electronics as a kid, but that just didn’t transition into education,” Moore told Technical.ly. “I never had a Black, male educator my whole K-12 experience. So not having anybody who can relate to who you are, and then just growing up in a disadvantaged and underserved school district and community, never brought out who I was until I had an opportunity to get an engineering degree.”
In response, Moore, whose career includes stints at SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton and Cerner, founded Mission Fulfilled 2030 in 2019. The Dulles, Virginia-based org partners with schools and organizations to offer workforce training for Black boys to enter the tech field, specifically in IT and cybersecurity. Recently, the nonprofit was one of 11 finalists for a $1 million award from the Maryland-based Gula Tech Foundation.
This week, Mission Fulfilled 2030 launched a $250,000 crowdfunding and registration campaign for its summer courses, with a new cohort launching on June 21. It’s hoping to get the $25 program participation fee paid for the 10,000 new members Moore wants to add annually.
“There’s a cybersecurity workforce gap of about 500,000 to 750,000 open positions because we don’t have the talent,” Moore said. “Yet, we’re not working with the youth to develop that talent. We’re looking at the talent that’s existing and saying, ‘Well, what do we do?'”
The organization has already had about 5,000 boys register for the program nationwide, but with the new launch it hopes to add 10,000 new members by the end of the year. Overall, Mission Fulfilled plans to add 100,000 young Black and Brown technologists to the workforce by 2030.
Mission Fulfilled offers both a cybersecurity awareness course and a young tech entrepreneurs course. Through the program’s 10-week courses, participants create their own projects and found their own software company, which Mission Fulfilled will also teach them to pitch. It also gives instruction on social media marketing and putting a product out for sale. The goal is to have members graduate high school with an IT Fundamentals certificate, which qualifies a person to work at an IT help desk. Members can also get an A+ certification, Network+ certification and Cybersecurity+ certification.
Moore said that through the program, it’s possible to get all four certificates in a two-year span.
“Now, you can go in debt in college for $150,000 to $200,000 and still not have those certifications and still be considered entry level. Or, you can have these four certifications and be working,” Moore said. “And then the company comes back to you and says well ‘Gerald, you know, you’ve done really great for us, but in order to move into management, you’re going to need some education.’ But what do our technology companies do? They pay for education.”
Moore said that with the launch of the 10K Black Boys initiative, it will be partnering with schools, recreation centers and other mentorship programs and organizations nationwide that may be missing a technology component. The nonprofit is also looking to engage with 1,000 corporate partners to help reach its goals.
Moore noted that Mission Fulfilled’s entrepreneurship and cybersecurity focus areas are particularly crucial. He said that even schools with tech programs tend to focus on coding and development without exploring the full stretch of careers in technology.
"So many of us don't believe that we have the opportunity to do it... We're going to dispel that myth."
“A lot of times our children, they’re not being exposed to this in school at the early ages,” Moore said. “Schools are promoting coding, coding, coding. Well, my youngest son, he’s into graphic design, he hates coding…They’re not giving kids opportunities to explore the various opportunities in tech.”
Moore hopes that Mission Fulfilled can help not only create awareness of the diversity of jobs in the tech industry, but also develop a desire and passion in students. Then, the courses can equip students to follow through both with the skills and belief that they can achieve tech career goals.
“How many millions of children come through school and their counselors are telling them they can’t because you haven’t taken precalculus and physics and chemistry by the time you graduate?” Moore said. “So many of us don’t believe that we have the opportunity to do it…We’re going to dispel that myth.”