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Alumni Profile Melvin Moss

Fall/Winter 2014

Turn on any TV channel or open a daily newspaper in a big city and the stories about violence, poverty and drug abuse among young people seem unending. But Detroit native Melvin Moss refuses to believe that has to be the norm. Instead, he chooses to impact Motor City youth with an abundance of positivity and hope.

Two years ago, the 2004 TU graduate started the Moss Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers kids from the inner city a plethora of social activities — from trips to Cedar Point to museums–as well as a step forward in education and leadership.

The foundation is Moss’ way of showing underprivileged kids an existence that transcends the brutal world of which many have become accustomed. It’s clear these kids have a firm hold on their mentor’s heart. His passion is evident when he talks about how the foundation has benefitted hundreds of children.

The impetus for the Moss Foundation came from his mother, Cheryl Moss-Lasley.

“Growing up, my mom always did things for people at church, for the Red Cross and different charities,” he recalls. “My mom was doing informal things at her house. She’d have kids come over who had a whole lot of issues. I finally decided we should just make this a real foundation.”

From the beginning, Moss has operated the foundation in his own unique way, and it works. “I’ve experienced a lot of different things, both positive and negative in my life. I wanted the kids to be able to do things I enjoyed as a kid. I always liked going to museums and amusement parks. When we do enjoyable trips and visits like this, the kids just light up because, all of a sudden, they are transported out of the normal. It’s a cool thing to see.”

His mantra is simple. He believes that all children deserve a chance in life, despite their situation. Thanks to successful fundraising efforts, those opportunities are offered to the children free of charge.

“I didn’t want to focus only on kids who were abused because then it became ‘What about the kids who are homeless?’ “What about the kids who are hungry?’” he explains. “I wanted to make sure the Moss Foundation never eliminated anyone. It’s not hard to find kids who need help.”

The foundation doesn’t cater only to social activities. Moss is a firm believer in the importance of education, and his all-volunteer staff also is there when a child needs extra academic assistance. In those cases, the children often receive so much more in terms of emotional support.

“We tutor at various libraries or private residences,” Moss says, adding that with one-on-one tutoring, it is all about the attention. “Usually, when kids get attention and praise, they are very much engaged and they want to improve their scores. Many have never been engaged on that level.”

But don’t go looking for the Moss Foundation in a specific building or location in downtown Detroit, because there isn’t one. That, too, reflects the founder’s common sense approach.

“All of our meetings and events are at different places. For example, if we need to meet with donors or volunteers, we’ll pick a church, a conference room or even a Starbucks. A lot of times, we have meetings at my mom’s house,” he says. “One reason for that is the cost, but more importantly, it keeps people engaged. It keeps the creative juices flowing where everyone is in a good spirit. If you don’t have the energy going, the kids will obviously read that very quickly.”

Moss no longer lives in Detroit, but he constantly monitors the foundation’s activities and returns home when he can. He now resides in Tennessee, where he works with professional football players as the owner of Moss International, a consulting firm that does strategic management and business planning and development for the Tennessee Titans.

“Right now I’m working with the players to open their (private) businesses, whether it is real estate, retail or anything of that nature,” he explains. “I enjoy what I do every day, but what I really enjoy is the Moss Foundation, the kids and giving back. There’s nothing that can replace that.”

Melvin chose Tiffin University because he was recruited to play football.

He said his favorite memory was his commencement in 2004 when Don Barden, an entrepreneur from his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, was the speaker. “It was priceless,” Melvin said.

He feels his greatest personal accomplishments in life are having a family of his own and starting the Moss Foundation.

When asked what do you like most about your career path? Melvin said, “I help build, motivate and encourage communities.”

“I am proud to be TU alum because I am a part of an exciting growing university. Tiffin has grown so much and I am very proud,” he concluded.