UConn Magazine: Redefining “Wealth”

For Richie Mutts ’06 (CLAS) the impulse to do good is as irresistible as an infectious melody.

Close up shot of Richie Mutts

(Peter Morenus / UConn Photo)

As seen and heard on YouTube or on Revolt TV, the music network founded by Sean Combs, a Richie Mutts freestyle strikes all the right notes. Contemporary beat, dazzling wordplay, powerful urban imagery. Close listening reveals a strong social justice message baked into the groove. Mutts calls it “putting medicine in the food,” whipping up a confection so delicious kids don’t realize it’s good for them.

For Mutts ’06 (CLAS) the impulse to do good is as irresistible as an infectious melody. In addition to making music and videos, the Hamden, Connecticut, native works as a program director for Meriden Children First, and last year he established the Born Rich Foundation. Dedicated to improving racial equality across Connecticut, the nonprofit is built on what Mutts calls “the five Es — exposure, experience, education, and empowerment, all wrapped up on a foundation of equity.”

The Foundation’s name comes from a 2019 documentary Mutts made about the disconnection between communities of color and institutions of power, including the police. It nods to a wider definition of “wealth” than is commonly celebrated by the music industry.

“Information is wealth, friendships are wealth, access is wealth,” he says. “Born Rich addresses the idea that generational wealth begins with parents being able to share information and opportunity with their children. Social and emotional learning techniques, understanding of self, financial literacy — in underprivileged communities, we just don’t have full access to all that.”

Among current projects, the Foundation is collaborating with the cities of Hamden, New Haven, and East Haven to produce a series of public service announcements aimed at bridging the disconnect between communities of color and law enforcement. “I want to get officers and municipal leaders to put themselves in the shoes of a young minority,” Mutts says. “And I also want that 16-year-old kid to put himself in the shoes of a cop. We have to be able to at least try to understand each other.”

Read on for more.