THE BLOG

Dreaming Big in Public School

05/22/2013 12:38 pm ET | Updated Jul 22, 2013

I didn't realize it back then, but going to public school in New York City set the direction for what I am doing now. The music I listened to and heard all around me dictated my world. And it was the great equalizer -- no matter where you were from or what you looked like. Early '90s hip hop was exciting, because it was a genre that was still new and changing every year. Yet for all of its newness, there was an underlying focus on style and punk. And that was translated through fashion.

NYC public school made you either anonymous or famous. You had to take risks to claim your space and identity. If you didn't, you sort of blended in with the rest of the crowd. My friends and I always felt a sense of urgency to be the first or the only.

We placed a premium on being original and authentic. That is probably what motivated me to participate in the year-end theatre performance, produced by the student body in high school. I was always a part of the dance pieces, and being part of such a big production that started from scratch stayed with me.

Who knew that dancing on a high school theater stage would help lead me to where I am today. Giving children access to a proper education will open doors to greater opportunities -- that is why my business partner, Maxwell Osborne, and I chose to collaborate with Pencils of Promise. POP gives children a fair shake at receiving an education, a school where they have a chance to nurture their passions, as we did growing up in NYC. They do this by building schools, with investment by local communities in Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Additionally, POP develops programs to hire and train teachers, and provide scholarship support to poor families.

Maxwell and I designed a canvas tote sold exclusively on Able Made that helps fund the POP mission. Every tote sold supports one child for an entire year of school. We produced 120 totes, which means we have the potential to impact the lives of 120 children.

Now that I am the father of two young sons, I am very cognizant of the importance of education. An education allows children to tap into their imagination and dream of greater things. As a product of public school, I feel every child deserves access to an education. Our hope is that the Able Made x Public School Lobo Tote will raise awareness to the inequality facing many children around the world -- and inspire others to contribute to this effort.