Miguel “Geno” Tucker knows too well about being a street hustler. He grew up doing whatever needed to be done to survive, be it legitimate or illegitimate. He saw his cousin fatally shot in 2013 and his nephew also killed in a shootout with the police in June 2016.
These events will change Tucker’s life for good. He got involved with the People’s Justice Project, later joined the local carpenters union and enrolled at Columbus State Community College to focus on entrepreneurship.
His journey into entrepreneurship started in the classroom. He wrote a business plan as a class assignment envisaging a hypothetical company that would provide resources, educational programs and paid work opportunities.
“The professor told me this was a good concept and might actually work,” Tucker told Columbus CEO. The endorsement from his professor spurred him on to start connecting with local NGOs doing similar work he captured in his proposal and started applying for grants.
Tucker went on start Remember Us Urban Scouts to offer entrepreneurial, employment and educational life skills to help teens break the cycle of poverty and change their families and community for the better. The first initiative of the organization was a landscaping program which now includes safety, customer service, equipment maintenance and landscaping techniques, according to Columbus CEO.
“The idea was to teach entrepreneurship and how to start a business,” Tucker noted. He went on to that teens in the program are paid to do landscaping work for Linden residents who might not otherwise be able to afford landscaping services.
“We started it in the middle of COVID and nobody had the money to pay for that, especially a lot of seniors and single moms. All my youth get paid for training and their work because the one thing I know is if you’re growing up in a household without financial means you feel an obligation to help and the majority of the time it’s not a job at Kroger, it’s selling drugs and robberies … my vision it to create a way out for these kids,” he said.
In addition to the landscaping program, Tucker created a skill training programme to teach young people basic skills in braiding and shampooing. Also, he has other programmes in line to help empower the young people in Linden.
“This is what God put me on the earth to do,” Tucker says. “To help these young people navigate their way to a better life, a life they didn’t even know they could have.”