Today we’d like to introduce you to Walker Moseley.
Walker, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am originally from Boone, North Carolina, a rural town in the Appalachian Mountains. My hometown and Miami are about as different as two places can be in the United States. I moved to Miami in July of 2010 after college to work for the organization City Year and support youth who had fallen off track academically. I spent four years working in public schools in Allapattah with City Year, where I managed a team and oversaw targeted efforts to get students on track to graduate from high school. In 2014, I moved to Philadelphia to attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving my MPA, I launched a pilot program with Drexel University’s School of Education to generate more middle school teachers in Philadelphia.
In August of 2018, I moved back to Miami and accepted the role of Regional Director with Guitars Over Guns. This position is by far the most rewarding and challenging role I have held. Our arts-based mentorship model, paired with professional musicians as the frontline instructors, is incredibly inspiring and impactful. The work we are doing with youth from underserved communities evokes an abundance of hope. The students we are working with are incredibly talented and ensuring their voice is heard is important.
If you had told me when I was in high school, and there is only one high school in the entire county where I’m from and the student population is 99% white, that I would eventually lay roots in Miami, be socially and professionally immersed in social impact work, that the majority of my inner circle, including my beautiful fiancee, would be people of color, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Has it been a smooth road?
What I have found challenging directly ties into why I do the work that I do. The most challenging moments of my adult life are tied to seeing the systemic barriers facing youth from disadvantaged communities. I have never faced the hardship that the student’s Guitars Over Guns serves face. I was born a white, cisgender, heterosexual male into a financially sound two-parent home. I have been afforded every opportunity anyone could ever dream of, and because of my appearance, I have never faced any sort of oppression or mistreatment.
Growing up, I always heard about the ‘American Dream’ and how if you work hard, you will get what you deserve, and that everyone has a chance to work hard and be successful. That simply isn’t the case when the area code a child is born into is the number one determining factor of their future success. Coming to terms with this system, and confronting my underserved privilege, is an ongoing struggle.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t had incredibly tough moments and challenges, but luckily I have always had a strong support system behind me, and my parents/mentors/educators instilled a mindset within me that I can accomplish what I put my mind to.
Please tell us about Guitars Over Guns.
Guitars Over Guns is a nonprofit that offers students from Miami’s most vulnerable communities a powerful combination of music education and mentorship with professional musicians to help them overcome hardship, find their voice, and reach their potential as tomorrow’s leaders. Our program puts a caring, consistent, adult mentor in the life of our students, and then runs sessions featuring social-emotional learning, academic check-ins, and music instruction.
Our Mentors are the backbone of what we do. Not only are they skilled at making and teaching music – they’re also compassionate individuals who believe in the power of music to change lives. Whether in the classroom or in the studio, they create safe spaces for our students to express themselves, push themselves, dare themselves, surprise themselves, perform, and create. Our mentors quickly become their students’ champions – invested in their development as artists, their progress as students, and their growth as members of their communities. As mentors, they are teachers, role models, coaches, confidants, advocates, friends, and fans.
Our unique approach to mentorship helps kids in ways they may not have been helped before. It also sets us apart from other nonprofit arts programs. The truth is, we don’t view ourselves solely as a music program. We’re a mentorship program that benefits the students who take part as well as the professional mentors who are the backbone of everything we do.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Miami is a great place for social enterprises. Inequity exists in this city, and there are phenomenal county, city, and foundation funding opportunities in addition to accelerators and incubators in place to support organizations that strive to do good. The social impact arena in Miami is trending in the right direction thanks to strong leadership from local philanthropists and change makers.
- Our programming is offered to the students we serve free of charge.
- Address: 169 E Flagler St
- Website: guitarsoverguns.org
- Phone: 8287739006
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/guitarsoverguns
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GuitarsOverGuns/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/guitarsoverguns