Mission10Eleven is a non-profit organization founded by Dumaine Reid and high school confidant, Alex Clarke, for heightened community awareness through athletic and creative showcases. As a young CEO of a non-profit organization, Dumaine has not only defined what it means to give back, but he has personified what it means for young people to give back. Life in the inner cities of America for youth is challenged with peer pressure, often resulting in a disconnection with individuality, and Reid’s initiatives on both fun and educational activities highlight the purpose of community engagement. Nonprofits provide an outlet for such connections to be made between one’s struggle and one’s triumph, making our experiences relatable enough to outreach. I once wrote, “Philanthropy Is Changing The World,” and Dumaine Reid, childhood friend, mentor, and peer, was at the forefront of my philanthropic examples. On February 18, 2015, Dumaine let me in on his philosophy that started it all, and his projects that will inspire a generation to innovate.
What do you think is unique or different about Mission 10.11?
One thing that I think is unique or different is the unselfishness that everybody involved brings to the table. A lot of things that happen in business, or young people being involved in business comes with money, and one thing we are is a non-profit, so when anything involves money, we’re chipping in to get something done, and the money goes right back into the organization. It’s not for us to benefit from, it’s for other people to benefit from, to spread awareness about a certain topic. But that’s what’s unique, everybody brings an unselfish, willing to get it done attitude.
In what ways has your organization grown?
Wow [pauses] It’s been 5 years, and that always just has to sink in. We’ve grown in a lot of ways, from the way that we organize events to the way that we have meetings, and overall how we operate. If there’s one thing I can point out, it’s how we execute things. It’s a lot more simple, broken down to the last detail. I value the people around me a lot for that, because I’m “the guy” or “the face” that started it all, but I am nothing without the people around me that have pushed me, didn’t allow me to settle for an idea that looks good, but still has to be broken down, or has to be critiqued. Overall, execution and just being simple to get stuff done, and understanding what the goal is.
Do you have any specific plans to expand the Mission beyond the Milwaukee area?
That’s actually in the works now, but I don’t want to say too much [laughs] but I’ve got an interview with you, so I always give you the exclusive. Two things. Cleveland is in the works. Everyone knows I’m a Lebron fan, but that’s not why I’m trying to expand to Cleveland. I just know some people in Cleveland, my close friend who I call my little sister, Alexis Eckles who plays basketball at Cleveland State, and our co-founder, Alex Clarke, trains her, so we want to tap into the market of Cleveland. We’ve visited multiple times, and we want to see what it’s like. The step after Cleveland is California, which is where our Vice President, Jineen Williams, is residing now, and we have been talking about opening up our own design studio where we just do everything in house. It’s just a collective of overall artistic people building a branding agency.
Can you talk about the importance of local community organizations?
It’s very important, and just essential for Milwaukee because when we started, we were 19. The feedback we got was amazing because we were so young, and I think that’s what caught everyone’s attention. It wasn’t just some 30 year old guy, ‘Yeah, let’s bring the youth together;’ it was the youth bringing each other together, so it was different. But right now, I just think people are excited to do something on their own, and I want to say we had something to do with it. We started in 2009, and things are sprouting up here in Milwaukee, so I will humbly say we sparked that, and we planted a seed for people to feel like they can do business on their own, and organizations can bring people together to do the right thing. Not just for a cause to get money out of it, but I really want to see genuine things done. Being 19 and running your own business, or just having a movement for other young people to be involved in is needed because older people can start their own business and bring young people together, but they won’t be able to touch. We are able to touch because we are together in it, so it’s just like, ‘Maine, I see you, and you are going through some of things I went through at that age, so you understand.’ I’m not saying that somebody older wouldn’t understand, but somebody that was 30 when I was 19, things were different, but if somebody is 18 or 19 at the same time as me, we both understand the same things. I just feel like young people starting an organization is needed because resources are dwindling. Anybody that’s going to start something to push the culture, I say go for it. I’d like to say that we boosted, or planted the seed to say that you don’t have to wait until you’re a certain age to do stuff. I hate to sound cliché, but you’ve gotta have a dream! Our dream was to find a way to save Milwaukee, as crazy as that sounded. We saved it in our own sense. We brought people together with our showcases, we spread awareness, have good clothing, and we spread good messages of positivity. When you have something like that, it’s hard not to support it, so I just want to find ways to help people grow.
How has recent brutality of police had an effect on your community outreach in the inner city?
It’s big for me because I really wouldn’t touch on political things. Politicians get involved, and it’s become more political, less community, so we are looked at as wrong for speaking up on topics that they talk on, but they don’t want to hear our opinions. Our next campaign is called “The World Will Remember Us,” and it touches on a lot of different things. Most people would want to avoid controversy, but I want controversy because I want people to know that I’m not ignoring what’s going on. The campaign launches on February 26th, and that’s the day Trayvon Martin was killed. Most people might ask why I didn’t do it on his birthday, but I wanted to make a statement on the day he was taken because that was when everything really changed. You go back to the police brutality of the 60’s during the civil rights movements, and Emmett Till, but when you think about today and social media, the media being so powerful, it’s so quick for things to spread that something else needs to be sparked. My confidence is at an all time high, and this campaign can be that push. Black Lives Matter has definitely been something else that has been needed as well, and women actually started that. That’s powerful. And when I watched Fruitvale Station for the first time, I cried. You look at law enforcement as protection, and when they do something like that, it’s just like, why? Because my skin is different? Is it a secret hate that you don’t like me? I tweeted awhile ago, the system failed when the police felt like protecting and serving wasn’t an interest anymore. They lost interest in protecting and serving, and they are just abusing their power at this point. It hurts, so I made sure it was in this campaign heavily.
Considering racial tension then, or the tension of discrimination in general, how important is diversity or even talking about race to members of your organization?
It’s very important because I welcome all walks of life. I want to be able to bring in everybody. I’m not the type of person to say, ‘you can’t join because you’re gay,’ because everyone has a purpose. Regardless of whatever decision somebody makes in this life, they still have a purpose in this world. Who am I to tell someone ‘no’. That’s just like any job that tells you not to apply because you’re gay, or because you’re black, or you’re white, or Muslim. If you are a genuine person and have the same drive of everyone else in this room, and organization, it’s really not my business, unless you welcome me into it. I welcome everybody with open arms.
Have you ever designed a project specifically for Black History Month?
Black History Month, I wouldn’t say, but along the lines of Black History. The campaign, “The World Will Remember Us,” will touch on a lot of black culture. We’re doing a comic book, and one of the characters is named Isaiah Brown, who wears a hood all of the time. His mother dies from a disease called Lupus, and after she passes, he puts his hood on and doesn’t take it off. He’s the character that’s misrepresented, and who we look at as “who’s next?” You know? Like, ‘what young, black man is next,’ because his face is blanked out. Another character is King Seale, and that’s actually based off one of the Black Panthers. The athlete character is a black student athlete, and when we look at black student athletes these days, they have a big following for either doing good on and off the court, or being scrutinized for a mistake they might’ve made. With this character, we’re gonna use him as a tool to help these young, up-and-coming athletes to understand that you have to make the right decisions, on and off the court, in the classroom. The other character is Rose, a young black girl. She’s artistic, she draws, she does photography. But she’s half-white and half-black, her mom is white and her dad is black. I’m not going to tell you who her dad is yet because that’ll give away the storyline, but she’s going through life now where she doesn’t have a father, and she’s strong, does a lot of stuff on her own. She’s not really worried about having a boyfriend in high school, or what other girls are doing because she’s focused on what she has to do. The final character is named Mackenzie, and out of the main characters, she’s the only Caucasian. She’s a freshmen going into high school, worries about fitting in, getting good grades, and she’s pretty. Her parents are strict on her as far as her grades in school. These characters come from all walks of life, so this campaign is very diverse, and I felt that it was needed because we don’t have anything animated anymore for this up-and-coming generation. It’s gonna be fun, and people will pick up on it quick, challenging people to do their research and have fun. I’m kinda taking a page out of The Boondocks book. I’ve been doing a lot of research on Aaron McGruder and things he might’ve done to get started.
Lastly, what does Black History Month mean to you, or does it mean anything different to you as a CEO?
It means a lot to me, personally, because I feel like, as humble as I am, I’ve broken down a lot of barriers that people might’ve thought weren’t possible at a young age. It still has to sink in sometimes that I’ve come this far, and I just have to credit the people around me a lot for that. Black History is powerful. More and more as I’ve grown, I’ve realized that it runs deeper than one month because if you do your research, it’s endless. People don’t know about Black Wall Street happening in Oklahoma. Black people literally had their own community of schools, hospitals, churches in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it was burned down by white people. We had our own thing, and it was taken away, but that’s another conversation [laughs]. It’s just things like that people don’t know about, so it’s like you never know what you will find out as far as black history. So, black history means a lot to me because I’m a real, big book junkie. I’m a real big person on research, and self-education. It just runs deep. I’m just proud to be 24, a young, black man who can say at 19 years old, I started my own business. I’ve got a nice resume, and I just pray everyday that it continues. But I’m tired. I’m in a tired state where I’m just tired of seeing our people continuously suffer. I’m tired of seeing our people being degraded, and looked down upon. I want our generation, and the next generation, and the generation after that to make black history something that can’t be condensed into one month. I’m proud!
For more information on Dumaine Reid and the mission, visit http://www.mission10eleven.com.