Meet Philadelphia’s young CEO, Milaj Robinson
Robinson and his friend Cierra Brown want to pull Philadelphia’s future adults from preventable crimes and violence and connect them with leaders.
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At 17, Milaj Robinson and his friend Cierra Brown began their nonprofit organization, 'Youth Creating New Beginnings.' The nonprofit aims to empower youth in the community to become future leaders.
Robinson is the CEO and has been running it for three years, alongside Brown, who is the founder.
In 11th grade, Robinson played basketball as a hobby. While he was dedicated to the sport, his main focus was on his education. However, during his senior year and close to leaving high school, he was taking civics and became enamored with it, eventually putting his mind in the space of community service.
Today, he is juggling college, his social life and his organization.
"At the beginning, Cierra and I were new to the game. There were a lot of things that we weren't prepared for. But I am so happy I am working with her because she was the initial founder. After long conversations and things of that nature, we are still building it together," Robinson told AL DÍA. "We use the fact that we are young as our advantage to be able to do what we want for our community."
Since 2016, Philadelphia has seen an increase in homicide victims from the year before.
As of Aug. 31, 2022, Philadelphia has had 364 homicides, 1,274 nonfatal and 336 fatal shooting victims, respectively, which is a 2% increase from this date in 2021.
Robinson stated that those numbers also served as a motivating factor toward him starting 'Youth Creating New Beginnings.'
"I was born in Philadelphia, yet I will not lie that crime exists. It's everywhere, of course, whether it be with gun violence, drug trading or other forms of crime or violence. And all of that drove me to do something about it and show outsiders the pure goodness of my city," Robinson said. "I know I can be a good leader by connecting younger folks with different leaders and making a huge impact in my community."
Since the creation of ‘Youth Creating New Beginnings,’ Robinson and Brown have helped hundreds of people, received sponsorships and even spread their services to Virginia.
'Youth Creating New Beginnings' is in Virginia because Brown attends Virginia State University and has advertised the organization on her school campus.
McDonald's has sponsored the organization and helped them feed the homeless. Robinson’s mother, who runs ‘MirrorMirror Hair Salon,’ has been supportive and other big corporations have helped them cover events and such.
Robinson feels that there are a lot of organizations that are competing for grants and money from the government, which he thinks makes it difficult for non-profit organizations to receive money. However, he believes anything is possible with the teams he and Brown have behind them.
Robinson is in charge in Philadelphia and Brown in Virginia. Each also has their teams helping one another. No matter the distance, communication skill is essential for the two.
"Cierra is doing a lot of great things and I can imagine all of the challenges she has gone through. We started in Philadelphia and I can't believe we are also in another state. Proves to show that we are trying to figure out the solution to all the issues our people are seeing and going through," Robinson said.
Robinson is a student at Morehouse College in Georgia, where he is a rising junior political science major. He moved to Georgia because he wanted to be in a new location, having never traveled outside of Philadelphia until he began college at 18 years old.
"I wanted to get comfortable being uncomfortable. That's what motivated me. And now I have a brotherhood of great people surrounding me. I honestly encourage anyone to do the same," Robinson said.
Like Brown in Virginia State University, Robinson will soon spread the 'Youth Creating New Beginnings' organization to Morehouse College, where he is currently taking a semester off.
"I want to expand the organization globally and spread awareness. That's the investment mission," Robinson said.