Mike Smith’s background and passion lie in youth development. He started working with teens first as a Youth Outreach Worker for homeless and runaway youth and later served as a judge for Teen Court in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. While working to help get kids back on track, he realized something that would have a profound impact on the trajectory of his career: the kids he was interacting with weren’t bad kids, they were bored. For Smith, that has made all the difference.
In 2010, Smith founded Rabble Mill, “a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission to work with Nebraska youth statewide toward achieving the belonging, purpose, and upward mobility necessary to grow, achieve, and reinvest in their community.”
Rabble Mill has created various programs (The Bay, Skate for Change, and Rabble Media) to empower teens through opportunities to help them fall in love with skateboarding, music, and digital creation, all while teaching social-emotional and technical skills.
- The Bay focuses its programming on skateboarding, music, and digital art. Its mission is to provide economically and culturally disadvantaged youth with the belonging and purpose they need to grow and reinvest in their community. As marketed on The Bay’s website, it is “a home for misfits in Lincoln – a safe space to go, [with] people who care, and something to do. Our programs aim to help young people dream bigger.”
- Skate for Change brings skaters together for a greater purpose: help solve homelessness. Together, teens pass out hygiene kits, water, and food to those in need. Skate for Change has handed out over 50,000 pairs of socks and registered over 3,000 participants since its inception.
- Rabble Media is a for-youth-by-youth media storytelling platform. The publication creates content focused on art, skating, music, wellness, activism, and more. The platform’s mission is to raise the tide and showcase the young creators in Nebraska.
While all of Rabble Mill’s programs may differ, the heart of what they do remains the same: hold space for teens to explore who they are and build community while doing it.