Guiding Leaders of Tomorrow | Hope Moore

Hope Moore

Founder & Executive Director

Hope Moore, Founder & Executive Director, Make The Dash Count (MTDC), has a passion for giving back, which she attributes to the example set by her mother, Christine Wallett, who lived by the phrase “life is not a dress rehearsal.” The DASH refers to the little horizontal line on our gravestones; the one between the date we were born and the date we pass away. The DASH represents everything in between and how we choose to live it. From the time she was a small child, Hope watched her mother who was always fundraising for worthy causes, reaching out to help others, and giving of herself until she passed at age 94.

“When I was ten, I asked my mother why she spent so much time doing things for others, her response was ‘Because I can, and Because I should’. I didn’t completely grasp the message she was giving me until I was much older. Although my mother had planted the seed, it wasn’t until I had my own personal experiences that I understood ‘the secret’ of giving. The true worth of a person’s life is not measured by what they’ve accumulated, but more by what they’ve given back.  Giving to others is the best gift you can give yourself. THAT’S THE SECRET.”

Hope was allowed to learn first-hand how one person can make a difference in someone else’s life and was inspired to give that same opportunity to other young people.  Hope likes to think outside the box and rarely takes no for an answer. 

She believes the “concept” behind MTDC’s program is straightforward, and it just took courage to convince others that it could work.  MTDC focuses on the needs of at-risk youth, primarily because they are not equipped to help themselves. “We do not use one set of criteria to make funding decisions but reevaluate our area of focus every year. This broadens the support we give to the community but also enhances the lesson for our youth board members as they realize that there are many ways to be at-risk. The students also learn that all of us can be just one unfortunate event away from being at-risk ourselves, regardless of age,” Moore says.

She approaches business in an organized fashion, knows what and when to delegate, takes risks, and learns from her mistakes. She believes that “if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn.” 

Inspiring Leaders

Hope believes that giving youth the opportunity and responsibility to work together to make choices that impact another person’s life can be a powerful lesson.  The MTDC board is comprised of a diverse group of high-school students from many different backgrounds and schools. “And we all know that experience is the best teacher and our diversity enhances the lesson.   Most people don’t have the opportunity to serve on a “board of directors” and have fiduciary responsibility until they are much older,” she elucidates. “I felt the best way to inspire young leaders was to give them a real-life opportunity to make a difference in someone else life while they’re still young, before they pursue their careers.”

For many of the foundation’s youth board members, their involvement was educational and life-changing. She remembers talking to her youth board and commenting that they were creating the “philanthropists of the future,” and was quickly corrected when one of the members shouted, “That’s not true, we are the philanthropists of NOW.” Another board member made a statement Hope won’t forget when she said, “I’ve learned the power of my own generosity.” After graduation many board members have gone into the non-profit world, one joined an NGO in Africa, some have started businesses giving a portion of their earnings back to the community, and others have just changed their thinking. “We feel we planted those seeds of philanthropy.”

It is pertinent to mention; Hope has encountered barriers to critical thinking. She has experienced resistance to the concept of allowing high school students to be responsible for grant-making decisions.

Other non-profit organizations who approached her to learn about the MTDC program have challenged the basic concept, saying high school students are too young to have a fiduciary responsibility and not equipped to understand the needs of the community. “I argued that high school students have much more of a pulse on what is truly affecting their peers than the adults in the community. The whole point of giving them the responsibility was to empower them,” explains Hope. “I did not want youth only to give input to the decision making, I wanted them to be the decision-makers. That’s where the lesson was learned, and the empowerment realized.”

Creating Tomorrows’ Philanthropic Leaders

The MTDC program is designed to help youth develop the knowledge, insight, and teamwork skills necessary to collaborate and make decisions regarding fund allocation. Each year the board is charged with evaluating grant applications and awarding grant monies to organizations and programs serving at-risk youth. They have created an environment where students will learn Robert’s Rules of parliamentary procedure, function as a Board of Directors, learn how to evaluate the financial health of an organization, develop team-building skills, engage with civic leaders, act as stewards of the non-profit’s funds and most importantly experience the joys of philanthropy. “Most adults don’t have these experiences until they’re in their thirties or forties. I feel we are creating the philanthropic leaders of tomorrow.”

Hope likes to think the MTDC program has a triple return on investment. For every dollar donated, the first return gives youth board members a unique opportunity to learn. That same dollar goes out to support programs that directly affect the lives of at-risk youth, and lastly, they are creating tomorrow’s leaders. “I would argue that investing in youth is one of the smartest long-term investments any business or person can make. I’ve always said if we changed the life of one person, we would have been successful,” states Hope. “In our founding year, a young woman, deeply affected by gang violence, was nominated to serve on our youth board by her high school guidance counselor. She sat quietly at the board table, barely engaged in the beginning, but we watched her voice grow as she realized her perspective had value. We followed her lead to adopt gang violence as the focus area that year.” Her empowerment through her board experience was genuinely amazing, and she became very involved in the community. She received “The City of Destiny Award” in her senior year,” which recognizes Tacoma WA’s youth leaders. In her acceptance speech, she talked about how her service on the board had changed her life. “For all of us, that was validation that our unconventional approach worked, and every time I tell that story, it still brings me to tears.”

MTDC is celebrating its 20th year of operation and has plans to create a second youth board serving the Southwest Florida area. “I now live and work in Naples, Florida (as a Realtor with John R Wood Properties), and I continue to donate a portion of my earnings each year to support the foundation. I miss working directly with the board members and would love to have another chapter here in SW Florida. Frankly, I’d like to see MTDC youth boards in every school district in the county.”


" Giving to others is the best gift you can give yourself. THAT’S THE SECRET. "

Hope Moore

Founder & Executive Director

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