First General Session: Wes Moore
WES MOORE is a best-selling author, decorated Army veteran and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, one of the nation’s largest nonprofits with a sole focus on alleviating poverty.
“We should never be OK with the idea that some kids aren’t going to make it,” Moore said during his rousing talk at CSBA’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show.

Moore drew from his own background to discuss the thin line between student success and failure, and how educators can make the difference. Before a packed crowd at the San Diego Convention Center, Moore described his own background growing up in tough conditions in the Bronx. Thanks to a determined mother, Moore left those streets behind, and after a halting start at military school, found his way to college and service as an officer in the military.

Along the way, he learned of another young man who shared his name but not his good fortune. That Wes Moore instead grew up in poverty in inner-city Baltimore and eventually was incarcerated for life after being found guilty of first-degree homicide during a robbery.

Curious about how their paths diverged, the author Wes Moore reached out to the other Moore and befriended him. Touching on subjects such as race, poverty, discipline and familial influence, he chronicled their friendship and different stories in the book (and forthcoming movie) The Other Wes Moore. He has since authored The Work, a book about self-discovery, service and risk-taking.

In addition to the strong support of his family, Moore also credited opportunity and education for his success.

“In this country, potential is universal,” he said. “Opportunity, though, is not. … Individual success means absolutely nothing if there is not a collective component to it.”

Moore, now the head of the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City, spoke of the chances he had to make good, even when he doubted himself as an adolescent military school student, and the individuals who pushed him to succeed.

By extension, he encouraged the audience to make those opportunities possible for others at a time of widening gaps among the haves and have-nots.

“The space between the opportunities for all is where we all come in,” he said. “Our job is not to determine who wins and who loses… our job is to make sure that everyone has a chance. Nothing will move a child out of poverty more than their ability to receive a quality education, and there is nobody better to protect that than you.”

To learn more about Wes Moore and his work, visit: