EYEJ strives to be a connector between community and children, to provide life skills and personal development tools to students in grade six through age 25. Our focus is the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, but we work with young people all over the United States.
How did you get into this field?
Concerned about the prevalence of poverty-level living environments, the disconnect between society and resources, and the extent of violence among African-American children prompted me and the late June Antoine to organize with other Plymouth Church UCC members, including Gloria Sturghill, Pamela Ford, Jan Larsen, Aisha Violette, and Shaundra Cunningham, in 2013.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Seeing when youth smile and/or show up to create positive change.
What is the most challenging part about your job?
Fundraising, as well as the close mindedness of people sometimes.
Why did you decide to become a PCBC member?
I respect the work, it’s important. Empowering BIPOC persons, businesses is important.
What challenges do you face as an African American business professional?
I am not African-American. But I grew up in the African-American community. My daughter is Zambian.
What are your goals for your business and how do you see PC being part of that process?
The goals and mission of EYEJ is to empower young advocates for change. We understand clearly the complex impact on underserved youth having served 1,700 underserved youth and having worked with 1,200 diverse persons, organizations, funders etc. in Cleveland. The way this can be done in a larger sense is social justice reform and the way to create real social justice reform is through policy and community investment. How long do organizations want to wait – another 50 years for things to change?
The way this can be done is thinking about larger levels of funding as a collective across multiple organizations serving black and brown persons. I have many connections on a larger level of funding strategies but it will take organizations coming together to create real impact in Cleveland. This means thinking bigger and differently, being open-minded, TRUSTING, reducing egos, and knowing our value towards the work and agendas we have planned and ultimately coming together to create real change as leaders. This means removing barriers between ourselves, our genders, our race etc., believing and truly wanting real uplift in black and brown communities and empowerment and knowing we can do this together. Therefore if there are leaders that want to partner on a coalition that is forming, please contact me.
What PC Buys Black business to business/consumer special are you offering members?
We welcome board members and people to volunteer for YODJ: Youth Online Discussing Justice.
Visit us at: Empowering Youth Exploring Justice (eyej.org)
Learn more about our work here: EYEJ Executive Summary 2021