An amazing group of young people from Baltimore City serve on a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) that provides guidance to the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health (CAH) and the Risks to Adolescent Health focus area of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. YAB members range in age; most are in high school, college, or the workforce. The YAB meets regularly - usually every two weeks - to give their input on issues central to the mission of CAH and the Initiative. YAB members take an active role in developing projects in partnership with CAH and the Initiative and in disseminating findings to stakeholders in the community.
We want to spotlight the talents and achievements of the YAB and their commitment to promoting the health and well being of adolescents in Baltimore. This inaugural Youth Advisory Board Spotlight features Jerome Waters.
Jerome's Humble Beast Movement
Jerome, 17, is a senior at Franklin High School in Baltimore County. He is the founder of Humble Beast Movement, a clothing brand and music label. Building his business is only one part of what makes Jerome tick. As a graduate of Joni Holifield’s HeartSmiles Entrepreneurship Program, he’s also passionate about youth advocacy and supporting his peers. Jerome was recently awarded a $20,000 grant through the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund to launch an after school program in which he will train middle and high school students in music production and entrepreneurial skills. He recently chatted with Lauren Burns, the Center’s communications specialist, and discussed his commitment to youth development, business, and giving back.
Lauren: How did you decide to apply for a grant through the Youth Fund?
Jerome: I wanted to do something for the youth, because I'm already involved in a lot of youth and community work. I came up with the idea of a project that helps youth express themselves through music and create revenue for themselves through that music. I needed something to help me push this project further so that's why I applied for the grant.
Lauren: When will the program start? What will the students be doing?
Jerome: Right now, they're learning the earning basic foundations of business through Ms. Joni [Holifield]’s program HeartSmiles. They’ll transfer to my program in November, and they [will] actually learn how to run a fully operational state-of-the-art studio. They'll produce their own music, make their own music, and record themselves. Eventually, they'll graduate and move to booking other slots for other people, actually mixing and mastering their music as well.
Lauren: So it’s kind of like a production lab.
Jerome: Yeah, my [company] Humble Beast Movement is a label and management team. I'm looking for new artists, new talent that can help my team out, and I can help them out as well.
Lauren: When did you become interested in youth and entrepreneurship?
Jerome: Well, since I was young I was always selling stuff, like just selling stuff in my house. Anything I could find. Like my old toys. I started to push myself more. And about a year and a half ago, I developed this whole brand--Humble Beast Movement-- this whole idea of being humble but being a beast, and that was like a whole movement, that kinda helped me see a difference in myself and the people around me. Once I really realized what being "humble" meant I started to see that other people wasn't humble. The people that I was hanging with, the friends that I had, the family that I was around, wasn't the right people to be around because they weren't humble. It was kind of taking away from the whole idea of what I was trying to do.
Lauren: What does "humble" mean to you?
Jerome: It means you can be the best in the world at whatever you do, but never taking away anyone else's credit or trying to down somebody else, but uplifting them and helping them be better. That's my whole idea, that just being the best you can be, but helping other people do the same.
Lauren: How do you juggle all your responsibilities with Humble Beast Movement, launching your program, and work supporting HeartSmiles?
Jerome: I prioritize by the day. I never know what could pop up the next day, the next week, next month, or year. But I just stay ready for whatever comes my way. And then I just kinda keep positive people around me that keep me disciplined and motivated. Because I know that if something gets too hard, or something gets too stressful, the old me would have just gave up, quit, but now that I have powerful people that can help me go further, I can't.
Lauren: What are your plans for the future?
Jerome: I'm still looking at college. I want go to somewhere close, because I wanna be able to still run the [music production and entrepreneurship] program. I'm focused in on building a Humble Beast Movement to the next level, signing other artists, and being able to send them on tours. I got big dreams that I really want to accomplish.