"Our young people are like Kodak film. All they need is a little exposure," Tavis Smiley
The mission of the Tavis Smiley Foundation is to enlighten, encourage and empower youth by providing leadership training that will promote and enhance the quality of life for themselves, communities and our world.
"Our young people are like Kodak film. All they need is a little exposure, " Tavis Smiley
Author, advocate, radio and talk show host Tavis Smiley founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation (TSF) in 1999 after granting a request from a single mother to have her son, Will, "shadow" him for a day. Judy Williams was seeking a role model for her son, but the experience proved to be just as positive for Tavis.
When listeners of the nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show heard about Will's shadowing experience, thousands called Tavis to request that their daughter, niece or nephew spend the day with him as well. Tavis, who at a young age was inspired by one of his mentors to serve people, recognized the need for a leadership program that would allow him to reach and inspire hundreds of youth.
The result was Youth to Leaders, a program that would identify young people with great potential and then provide training to help them develop into leaders. Tavis believed motivation and encouragement coupled with leadership training and early exposure would result in a new generation of youth organizers, activists, and advocates serving as catalysts for social change reminiscent of the Civil Rights era. And he believed these young people identified as new leaders could begin serving immediately as opposed to waiting until their 30s or 40s.
To date more than 6,500 teens, ages 13-18, have participated in our leadership conferences, workshops and lecture series.
Tavis Smiley Foundation Board of Directors
Founder and Chair
Denise Pines, Inc.
US Business Development Manager
Olivia E. Mitchell
CDD-Human Services and Family Development
Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
Loyola Marymont University
Ernst & Young LLP
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