MIAMI – Last week, the Talent4Change Foundation launched its ‘Buzz It Forward’ campaign by debuting its signature initiative, The Buzz Boxx, during Art Basel week.
The Buzz Boxx is a container-based barbershop designed to be placed at various locations that offers grooming and mentoring to young men ages 7-17 who live in poverty-stricken areas.
The mission of the foundation is to inspire, unite and empower children in underserved communities. Its founder, Michael Caraballo, introduced the initiative to the gathered crowd.
“The purpose of Buzz It Forward is to help kids look better so they can feel better (and) in turn do better,” Caraballo said. “It’s an incentive- based reward system that we’ve created to encourage kids to keep doing better, whether that be doing better in school and/or participating in community service.”
The launch included a ribbon cutting ceremony and an official presentation by special guests including Tina Brown, executive director of the Overtown Youth Center.
Brown shared her enthusiasm about the Buzz It Forward campaign’s potential to inspire youth to entrepreneurship.
“The Buzz Boxx concept is truly an attractive and innovative concept for positive youth engagement. Self-confidence starts with the way individuals look and feel about themselves,” Brown said. “I am hopeful that (the) Buzz Boxx will spark entrepreneurial energy within young people as this may be an opportunity for them to meaningfully engage in the process of learning how to run a business. It’s the coolest idea I’ve seen all year.”
‘Buzz it Forward’ is a component of the ‘Do Better Project’ created by Amir Youssef, program director for Talent4Change and owner of the Chop Shop Barbershop. The project is designed to encourage youth to do better at home, in school and in their communities.
“If you look good, you feel good. Buzz it Forward helps kids earn the right to choose whatever type of haircut they like. Whether it’s getting good grades, volunteering or helping others, we want them to do better,” Youssef said.
Youssef also heralded his belief that mentoring, instilling self-confidence and teaching youth to have a positive body image will encourage young men to be their best selves.
“The barber-client relationship has always been long-term and we want a specific barber to mentor, educate and service the kids for at least one year,” Youssef said. “There’s a need for grooming kids long-term. I believe in order to inspire them to do better, they need consistent role models.”
Currently located at 2250 NW 2 Avenue in Miami, near the grounds of Mana Wynwood, the inaugural Buzz Boxx is a uniquely customized 8’ by 20’ shipping container converted into a fully functional, portable barbershop complete with lighting and electricity.
The prototype will eventually be dropped off at the Overtown Youth Center, which has been provided vouchers to reward deserving young men with free haircuts. The Chop Shop, in conjunction with The Mavericks Barbershop and Red Carpet Barbershop will staff the Buzz Boxx and facilitate the first wave of free haircuts.
The long-term plan is to place a Buzz Boxx in underserved communities nationwide, where it will remain for one year at a time. Organizations, foundations, schools and community centers are encouraged to get involved with the campaign.
Free haircuts are funded through donations that can be made by visiting www.buzzitforward.com.