When Do Something Awards Semi Finalist Tyree Dumas looked around his community in Phildelphia he knew the kids in his neighborhood needed better role models and more options to challenge and engage them in school. He founded YNOT Foundation that offered kids dance lessons letting them express themselves in a safe way. He now runs DollarBoyz Dance Crew which gives local kids something positive to aspire to.
1. How did you feel when your first learned of the problem you are addressing?
I felt there wan't a way for myself or my peers to accomplish our dreams in a traditional school setting because our schools didn't teach us things that would help us succeed as entrepreneurs, entertainers, or other fields of work not traditionaly addressed in high school. There are also a lack of programs to engage students who are excelling, meaning high performing students can easily get bored and restless when they surpass the rest of the class.
2. How do you feel about it now?
I’m even more enraged because there still aren't enough schools that have programs focusing on the arts or catering to students interested in buisness in underprivaged communities. There might be afterschool programs, but after and eight hour day of classes an extra two hours at school can be overwhelming. I feel like if programs were offered during the school day that catered to student's interests we woulnd't have such a high drop-out rate.
3. What person or experience sticks with you from when you first started your project?
I think about the kids who could have become something great in life, yet because there were support systems in place available to them, they're now in and out of jail.
4. Who or what is your inspiration to keep going?
The hundreds of young people who look up to me are my inspiration to keep going. I see so much potential in these kids, but the environment they live in makes it so hard for them to stay grounded, that they only have about a 10% chance of taking a positive route. That's why I’m here to give them 100%.
5. Can you describe the moment you knew that you were actually making a difference?
The moment I walked down the street a few years ago and a group of kids were excited to see me. I smiled and continued to walk when one of the other kids walked up and started using profanity. Another kid told him to stop because they were trying to get in DollarBoyz and TOPDOLLAR doesn't like cursing. That’s the moment I really knew I was making a difference in people’s lives.
6. What was the most difficult roadblock you faced when you tried to start your project?
I didn’t really have anyone to go to who could walk me through steps that needed to be taken to change my vision into a reality.
7. When you were growing it?
People doubted my work and looked for any reason to discredit it. The more successful we get, the more people look for reasons to hate it. I also have a lack of resources that delays the magnitude of what can really be done on a larger scale.
8. What has surprised you the most about the journey that has taken you here today?
What has surprises me the most is the fact I'm still here doing the work and progressing. I have to put up with a lot every day, but it's important to me to be a good role model. I want to show the kids who look up to me that no matter what it’s possible to accomplish anything you give your all to!
9. If you could have done one thing differently based on what you know now, what would it be and why?
I believe there’s a reason for everything, so with that being said honestly I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I have a great support team and am happy!
10. What’s next for your project?
All I can do is learn and expand, I am not only an visionary but actionary. I come up with initiatives that better serve young people by helping them to stay grounded and positive.I want to expand DollarBoyz Academy, making it's leasons available to young people all around the world.
11. Finally, if you could have any celebrity film a PSA for your organization, who would it be and why?
Barack Obama, because he’s an inspiration to me and he's a person that the population I serve looks up to. If he gets behind something it kind of puts the official stamp on it in the eyes of the public.
What Can You Do?
Learn more about all of the Do Something Awards Semi-Finalists.