Rutgers SPAA Alumnus Shane Fuller (BA’16, MPA’17) Strives to Positively Impact Future Generations
When starting his education at Rutgers University–Newark, Shane Fuller (BA’16, MPA’17) discovered early on that he wanted to work with and inspire youth, but he wanted to do more than teach. He wanted to work in community service. He wanted to start a nonprofit.
It was working as a tutor for the America Reads/Counts Program on campus that gave him a taste of the kind of meaningful interactions and lasting impressions he could have with youth, and really fueled his desire to work with them and formalize a way to do so. In talking about these passions, he was told by the director of the program, Rolando Herts, that he “just needed to be at SPAA” and to see Sharon Stroye (who was assistant dean at the time) at the School of Public Affairs and Administration.
“I walked into her office and we planned my whole college career,” said Fuller, “and I stuck with it. She helped make sure it worked.”
The coursework at SPAA, according to Fuller, supplemented his drive and helped him hone practical skills, such as strategic planning, to start and run a nonprofit – which he in fact did with fellow students while still earning his undergraduate degree.
Fuller co-founded Them Cloud Kids (TCK), an organization that aims to inspire peers to become better role models for the youth primarily through the teaching and practice of Ubuntu, a South African philosophy that encourages human kindness and compassion. Fuller and his fellow students came together in 2013 to start the organization, and then they worked with the Intellectual Property Law Clinic at RU-N to become a 501(c)3 charity organization within a year. One of their goals is for college students to pass their knowledge onto younger generations by teaching the youth of Newark how to have positive, compassionate interactions with others.
“We wanted to explore what we could do to really impact future generations and how we could capitalize on our college education and teach our peers,” said Fuller.
Among their many outreach activities, the organization coordinates a mentoring program with West Side High School in Newark, holds Future Cloud Open Mic Nights, and organizes community feeding events that assist in promoting their theme of “help us, help us,” the idea that everyone coming together can help everyone help each other.
In addition, each fall, TCK celebrates area youth by hosting the annual “Ubuntu Awards: New Jersey’s 30 under 30” which honors those “who employ Ubuntu and positively impact New Jersey.” Awards are given in six categories including “Wellness,” “Innovation,” “Visual & Sound,” and “Community Mogul.” There is also an active Them Cloud Kids Student Organization Chapter at RU-N that acts as the source of Ubuntu on campus and uses the organization’s philosophy as inspiration.
Currently, Fuller serves as program manager at Newark Thrives!, a nonprofit that works to bring students awareness and access to high-quality out-of-school youth programs. As such, he runs Youth Impact Meetings and holds city-wide fairs. It’s the potential for a better future – “this recycled inspiration” as Fuller says – that energizes him, and he sees working with youth as a way to bring about a positive legacy.
“You can look at the state of our world and either be disappointed by it or do something about it,” said Fuller. “I have to do something about it because I just can’t be stagnant – I enjoy being a source that pushes our youth to be great and to be able to give them a voice they thought they didn’t have.”