Precious Tate, a fourth-year in public management, leadership and policy, wanted to give back to Kent Branch Library, whose staff helped her with college applications and when she needed to use a computer or borrow books.
After her first year in college, Tate started hosting workshops for children on topics including leadership and goal setting at Kent Branch Library — two doors down from her house — in the summer when she came home.
Tate said the children would always ask, “When are you coming back?”
“I could never give them a definite answer,” Tate said. “So I decided to make my own non-profit organization because I felt like it could be extremely beneficial and could not only do things a few times a year, but to help continuously.”
Tate co-founded the non-profit, Youth for Change, with her friend Alicia Bell to increase civic engagement, advocacy and lifelong learning in adolescents between ages 14 and 22 in her hometown, Toledo, Ohio.
“The number one goal is to increase civic engagement,” Tate said. “This means giving youth a platform and a place to discuss the issues that are important to them — issues that are affecting their community and basically provide them the opportunity to express those and also a safe space to address it.”
Youth for Change was introduced to Toledo in April 2019, when the organization tabled at the Lucas County Minority Health Month kickoff event.
Tate said the organization also realized it was important to promote health and wellness among youth in her community.
“Especially in my community for young people of color, they’re more focused on how to get through things that are affecting their personal lives,” Tate said. “These youth are worried about where their next meal is coming [from.] Toledo also has the highest rate of teen homelessness.”
Larry Smith, Youth for Change treasurer and a Toledo native, said it is not necessarily pushed in school for students to be involved in things happening in their community. He said most students are drawn to what’s happening in their households or online.
“Adults make decisions based on what they think is best without youth input. I think with youth input, we will have a better chance of increasing equality and increasing [awareness on] issues that are affecting our youth,” Tate said.
In 2018, Toledo Public Schools was given a grade of ‘F’ by the Ohio Department of Education and Jobs based on the scores of standardized tests. Tate said she hopes the non-profit will create better academic outcomes and give students resources to overcome difficult life circumstances.
The organization also features job readiness preparation with a mentorship program, pairing students with professionals their field and placing students in unpaid internships during their upperclassmen years of high school.
“As a leader, I see my myself being on the field. I see myself being at every event that we have,” Tate said. “Being in the background is extremely important, but I think to make a direct impact, youth need to know that you’re there and you support them 100 percent.”
Smith said he met Tate in high school and as soon as he got the opportunity to be involved, he accepted the position because he knew Tate was serious about what she wanted to accomplish.
“She’s always inspired me because she’s a great leader,” Smith said. “She’s always been that person. you know she’s going to do something big.”
Tate said she is moving back home to prepare for the start of Toledo Public Schools’ school year in the fall when Youth for Change will fully launch.
“I came back to Toledo because I saw a need to help students in the area where I grew up in,” Tate said. “This is home for me and this is where I need to be helping.”