BUSINESS / ORGANIZATION:
The MSK ExperienceFayetteville, Ga, and Chicago, IL
ABOUT THE BUSINESS / ORGANIZATION:The thing that makes The MSK Experience so special is that we are one company serving the unique needs of two populations all with the same goal: Changing lives! The mission of the MSK Experience is to create a global network of sisterhood that inspires girls and women through intentional experiences designed to empower, motivate and educate.
THE STORY:My Sister’s Keeper (MSK) started as a teen program on the south side of Chicago. As a teacher, I had the unique opportunity to see students in and out of the classroom. In 2007, I met a young lady who was in all the honors classes, but who was also working a job every night that kept her out until 1 am. She lived in a single parent home with a mom who was doing her best to raise three kids and work a fulltime job. That young lady was working to pay for her basic needs, and I knew I had to do something. What started as me sponsoring her basic needs and paying for all of her graduation fees and prom, ended up in a life-long sisterhood where my community of friends adopted her and coached her to and through college graduation. In looking back, I realized that while school was doing a good job of teaching her academically, she needed a safe space to learn the necessary life skills for traversing the waters of young adulthood. From there MSK was born.
We piloted the MSK program from 2008-2010 with 200 girls and built a curriculum, community workshop, and mentoring model. We officially incorporated, got our 501(c)(3) status, and have served over 2500 girls since then. In 2017, we again looked at our organization and realized that the women who were mentoring our girls, also needed those same lessons and experiences. We started a private Facebook group with five women and a vision board party, and within three months the private group grew to 100 women and monthly touchpoints. Our teen program is now in two program schools as we test the waters in Georgia. On top of that, our women's network will be starting a young professional series, women's conferences, and monthly experiences soon.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS / ACCOLADES / AWARDS:Our organization received the Daily Point of Light award in 2015 and the Allstate Local Community of the Year award in 2016.
My proudest moments are when our alumni apply to be program facilitators and send us notes about their current graduations, new jobs, and new homes.
ADVICE:The best advice I have ever received is, " You were made to do hard things." I have used this in both my personal life and in business. When I moved to Georgia, I had to make the tough decision to close MSK Chicago because I could no longer sustain flying back and forth each month. I was not working, and my husband suddenly fell ill. It was a dark time for about a year. It was in the moment of feeling like I had to abandon my dream of running The MSK Experience to deal with my family struggles that I pulled this advice out and move forward with what I knew I was purposed to do. In tough moments when giving up would be the easiest thing to do, I always choose the road that tests my resolve and keep moving forward. God wouldn't give it to me, if I could not handle it.
LOOKING BACK:The best advice I would give my younger self: "Be YOU unapologetically." When I was young, I struggled with loving myself because of the hue of my skin. I was never satisfied with how I looked or how I sounded. I spent a great deal of time unhappy and wishing I was something more. It wasn't until I had my daughter that I truly realized how amazing I was...just as I am.
30 May Nikki Williams Rucker
Posted at 09:13h in BUSINESS