If you have an idea that you are passionate about, don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from putting that idea to action. Most successful business are built on the fear of the unknown.”
Kesha Rashed is a Human Services Board Certified Practitioner, who is Founder and CEO of Fostering Footprints Inc. a non profit organization dedicated to empowering pregnant or parenting teens between the ages of 17-24 who are in out of home placements or have aged out of foster care by offering evidenced based parenting programs in a supportive environment that help to strengthen the bond and attachment between teen parents and their children. We aim to equip teen mothers with life skills that will lead to self sufficiency.
Prior to founding her nonprofit organization, Kesha spent over 8 years working in the child welfare industry as a caseworker. Much of this experience was spent in working with children who are placed in foster care and has watched many children age out of the foster care system with limited support. She still works as a full time caseworker, and operates her nonprofit outside of her full time career.
Kesha lives in Long Island, NY, and is an active member of The National Organization of Human Services and The National Association of Black Social Workers. In her free time, she enjoys going to plays, listening to music, going to the movies, and planning activities with her family.
Where did the idea for Fostering Footprints Inc. come from?
Fostering Footprints Inc. was founded in 2017, when I recognized that there was a growing need of support for teen mothers who are in out of home placements or age out of the foster care system. As a caseworker with the Department of Social Services, it became evident that many of the teens who transition to adulthood lack the skills and support necessary to become successful adults. I envisioned an organization that would provide the support that these teens desperately need as well as providing teens with effective parenting skills which include child and adolescent development, how to care for and respond to child’s needs appropriately. Other life skills that are necessary and important to become successful members of the community are budgeting, health and wellness, employability skills, healthy relationships, and encouragement to obtain a high school education as well as support in continuing on to a post-secondary education.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is packed full of responsibilities as I continue to work my full time job during the day. I also have a family which consists of my husband, stepson who is 21, daughter who is 14 and son who is 21 months old. I spend time helping with homework, playing games, running errands and cooking. When everyone is asleep, I spend time researching, sending emails, responding to emails and working on the parenting curriculum that I have created for teen parents who are in the program. I also make lists of individuals and business who share the same passion to call to work on collaborations with. A calendar is my best friend, as I write down what is weighing on me right now. The things that I need to accomplish as well as the things that I want to accomplish. I go back through this list and take care of the things that take less than 10 minutes and cross of when completed. For the other task I assign a due date and schedule time in my calendar for this task to be completed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have so many ideas on the direction that I would like my organization to go. When I have an idea for an event or project, I either text members of my team or send an email requesting thoughts on the topic. My team members are great at getting back to me with either suggesting ideas to add, putting together dates, and finding locations where the events can be held.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Many states and organizations are recognizing the need for supporting youth in foster care towards success. On May 25th, Rep. Danny K. Davis introduced the Supporting Foster Youth in Successful Parenting Act of 2017 (H.R. 2682). This bill would provide youth in foster care with relevant information and services to prevent unplanned pregnancy while also supporting expectant or parenting youth so that they and their children can thrive.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am the type of person that once my mind is set on doing something, I do whatever it takes to achieve that goal(over-achiever). If it means putting in extra hours to complete a task, then that is what I will do. I also have the gift of being a great multi-tasker where I can juggle many different responsibilities at one time where the details to complete each task is never left undone.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Slow down, stop trying to do everything. It is perfectly fine to allow others to help you. When you develop the mindset that things will not get done or want get done right if you don’t do it yourself, you risk the chances of offending those around you especially the ones you love. It leaves the other person feeling incompetent, and when you do finally realize you need the help, the other person continues to shy away because of the overbearance.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
A father is so important in the development of a child. Many fathers feel that it is a mother’s responsibility to nurture a child in the younger years, but the way a father nurtures his child in the younger years are just as important. A father’s role in his child’s life is most important in shaping social competence and peer relationships during the middle school years and romantic relationships in adolescence and adulthood.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I read and make sure that I am up to date with the current research in my field. It is important that you continue to read to gain the knowledge that is necessary to be an expert in your chosen business venture.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Networking is key to growing my business. Joining associations, groups, participating in webinars, attending other nonprofit organizations events helps to learn what others are doing that could possibly set up for a long term partnership with a bigger organization.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I felt I had this wonderful idea, that not many organizations were doing in my area, I felt that my organization could provide the life skills and parenting classes in group homes that housed teen moms and their children. After discussing my program with the group homes, it was learned that they had staff already providing the same services. Instead of feeling defeated, I recognized that there are teen moms who are in different residents whether it be shelters, or living with a friend or foster parent who needed our services. I decided that we would secure a location and invite the teen moms who are placed outside of group homes to our weekly classes.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If you are trained in Social, Emotional Development, opening up a childcare center focused on increasing a child’s social and emotional skills would be key to a child’s positive development and decrease in bullying behaviors.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently decided to support Aging Out Institute’s 2018 National Awards Program by becoming Bronze Level Sponsor. The awards program recognizes foster caregivers and organizations in the U.S. for the great work that they are doing to help foster youth age out of foster care and into independence successfully.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
We use Google Drive where we are able to share files on and offline that includes google Docs, Gmail, Sheets, slides and calendar that permits all team members to edit and share.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love.” This book describes how we become who we are by describing early relationships with parents that impact our lives as adults. This book makes you reflect on your own life as a child, parent, and intimate partner.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”-Wendy Mass
Whether it be at home, place of employment or even out in the community always be aware of your actions towards others as you never know what another person you encounter is going through. Your kind words or gestures could possibly turn what could be the most terrible day of someone’s life into a blink of hope.
- Learning how to let go of the reins and allowing others to take the lead on a particular task will free up time for yourself to focus on other tasks or even personal time. Taking time for yourself is important to refuel.
- Read as much as you can whether it be for just 10 minutes a day as this will keep you abreast to what is going on in your field and can also help with maintaining a healthy, active brain.
- If you have an idea that you are passionate about, don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from putting that idea to action. Most successful business are built on the fear of the unknown.
- Networking is an important aspect of building and growing your business. When you speak to someone who knows someone, your business can be placed in front of big names and brands that will seek you out for collaboration.
- Read Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love to learn more about how early relationships with parents have an impact on your personality and attachments to other individuals in your life.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.