Meet Malcolm

Posted on January 11th, 2017

Malcolm Adams changed schools a lot growing up. There wasn’t a lot of consistency or stability. When Malcolm’s family moved to Minneapolis around 2004, the instability continued. Malcolm, along with his father and older brother, stayed at the People Serving People homeless shelter until they secured a spot in one of Simpson’s housing programs.

“Our Family Advocate filled so many gaps and helped stabilize our family,” Malcolm, age 25, says. “They worked deeply with our family, going above and beyond to help us out. Simpson totally had an instrumental role in getting me where I am today.”

And where is Malcolm today? He’s completing a year of service with the AmeriCorps Public Allies Program, assisting Simpson’s Children and Youth Services team in their work with children transitioning out of homelessness. Malcolm’s developing a literacy curriculum focused on African American identity and heritage. The majority of the children and youth in Simpson’s programs are African American and Simpson has made an investment in recent years in developing its own culturally relevant curriculum to help these kids explore their identity.

“It’s about the kids having something they can draw from. It’s about seeing Black faces in the text and being able to identify with that,” Malcolm says about his work.

In February, Malcolm will lead a field trip for some of the kids in our programs to the Minnesota History Center to visit an exhibit on African American inventors, artists, and activists. Malcolm’s excited about the activities he has planned to celebrate Black History Month and can’t believe his service year is halfway done.

“Simpson really shaped my future and I’m happy that I get to be a part of shaping someone else’s future.”


Malcolm with his dad, Ivan, at a Family Housing summer picnic.

It’s been a few years since Malcolm’s family was in Simpson’s programming. His dad, Ivan, now works for the Metropolitan Council and has served on Simpson’s Board of Directors. His older brother, now 27, joined the Marine Corps after high school and is now getting his college degree in California. In addition to his work at Simpson, Malcolm’s an active musician playing a variety of instruments in a few bands and looking to form his own.

“I’m a firm believer that music heals. I didn’t get my first guitar until we moved to Minnesota and for a while I taught myself,” Malcolm says. He later took lessons at MacPhail Center for Music and even taught music lessons for a while.

As he gets closer to the end of his Public Ally service year, he’s looking toward the future. He might do another year with the AmeriCorps program, maybe outside of Minnesota, but he wants to stay working with kids. He wants to help kids build the same strong connections he was able to build at Simpson.

Those same connections led Malcolm to get involved with Simpson again a few years ago. In 2014, Charlotte Kinzley, Simpson’s Children and Youth Program Manager, was starting to build the Youth Mentoring Program and reached out to former program participants for feedback. She recruited Malcolm to provide input on what a mentoring program should look like, based on his experiences. And she pushed him to apply to the Public Allies program.

“She was like this little bug in my ear, always mentioning Public Allies, always encouraging me,” Malcolm says with a laugh. “It took me a while, but I finally took her advice.”

“Malcolm has been such a blessing to Simpson. He has brought his thoughtful, optimistic, and generous outlook to our work with youth and our team is better because of it,” Charlotte says of Malcom.

Are you interested in making a difference in the life of a child experiencing homelessness? Children and Youth Services is currently recruiting volunteers. Learn more about these opportunities here.