Introduce yourself and profession to our readers:
I am Melissa D. White, Founder/Executive Director of Writing Our Wrongs, Inc. I am a Social Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, National Public Speaker, and Sales & Marketing Strategist. Writing Our Wrongs, Inc. is a non-profit organization, and our mission is Empowering Youth to Activate Their Voice Through Writing and Speech. Our program focuses on the platforms of anti bullying and social justice, and we educate youth on how to utilize writing skills and oratorical abilities to write and speak on social issues that matter to them.
What inspired you to pursue this area of interest?
The idea came about one day two years ago. I was so angry at the condition of society and felt helpless in what seemed like a hopeless situation seeing the magnitude of hate speech on social media. It was after the death of Mike Brown, and people were looking for answers about what was going on. The media not only reported it, but it became a platform for hate comments and spewing rage on all sides. We see this as adults. Our youth see it too. As adults, we can vote and can use our voices in our respective platforms. I wanted to activate the voice of our youth to let them know that although they are not of age to vote, their voices do count in this world.
What advice would you share with those interested in a similar pursuit?
Pursue it relentlessly because someone is waiting on you to do the work and launch your business, non-profit, cause or answer to what people need. If you are called to it, you are qualified for it. Be active in areas where you see a need in the community, and connect with similar causes to strengthen your collective voice for change. Also, keep track all responses to your work and follow up on the successes and feedback of programs you implement. This will help you in pursuing future funding and sponsorship for sustaining your efforts.
Discuss a professional challenge and how you overcame it:
The biggest challenge for me in starting a non-profit was understanding the correct business structure for a non-profit. It’s one thing to be on the ground doing the other. It’s another to make sure your non-profit business is sustainable and built to last. People often think that “non-profit” and “free” are synonymous. I have learned to do my due diligence in understanding the correct structure for funding and eligibility for resources to support the organization. I have also surrounded myself with the perfect team of those who are experts in areas where I am not, such as instructional design for our youth programs and materials, grant writers and non-profit advisors and mentors.
What is next for your brand/business in 2016?
Well, in November, our “Write It. Speak It.” Workshop will focus on Election Education for youth and parents. We want them to learn the art of writing and crafting a speech and educate them about how the election process works while conducting a mock debate. We will host webinars and other youth advocates to help parents with resources on how to talk to their kids about the election, social justice and bullying. We are also planning a wide array of community forums and additional project based workshops and scholarship initiatives in 2017.
How can readers connect with you online and through social media?
Facebook: Writing Our Wrongs