Change occurs when people set aside their differences to unite on one common goal, and for Kyle Rucker and Mike Jackson it was the preservation of tomorrow. In 2005, Kyle and Mike realized that young people weren’t engaged decision-makers in their schools, communities, and neighborhoods which meant that society wasn't functioning the way it needs to function.
Originally from South Chicago, Kyle spent many of his early years as a homeless teenager balancing the process of chasing his own dreams and raising his younger sister. Moving independently to St.Paul, MN in 2001, Kyle finished High School at Arlington in St.Paul and was accepted to the University of Minnesota in 2003. While at the University of Minnesota, Kyle began to wonder - what if young people were positioned to be engaged participants in their society? He connected with past educators that made an impact in his life, and received their permission to engage students in activities that allowed them to raise their voices on the condition of their schools, neighborhoods, and communities.
In the past, students have been conditioned to believe that adults are solely responsible for bettering things. In order to change their communities for the better, young people need to know that they can hold adults accountable and can be innovative problem-solvers as well. With Mike Jackson joining the mission, it soon became a movement. Together Mike and Kyle built Project Footsteps while carefully constructing a management and development style that attracted hundreds of local college students to volunteer and fundraise. Soon after, Project Footsteps became an arm of accountability in the community, challenging many organizations to consider making youth leadership a fundamental part of their mission.
Since the founding of Footsteps, the mission has engaged over 40,000 young people, created over 400 partnerships, and has changed the way youth leadership programs all over the country are created and facilitated. Mike and Kyle have spoken at many conferences, Universities, and schools about innovation, leadership, mobilization and most importantly, understanding sacrifice on behalf of our youth.