SYDNEY LEWIS

DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND ADVOCACY

"My mom had me when she was pretty young. She was a single parent without a college degree, and we struggled a lot financially throughout my childhood. She always emphasized the importance of getting an education, and going to college was never something that was a question for me - I always knew I would end up there. An education is something that, once attained, cannot be taken away from you. It's the great equalizer - having an education can open so many doors that are closed to you without a degree and can completely change someone's life. Having a degree allowed me to break the cycle of poverty for myself and my future family. Not only that, but watching me go to college and become a first generation college graduate inspired my mom to complete her education as well, and she graduated the year after I did. I have personally seen the difference having an education can make. IYT works on behalf of a community that society actively tries to keep down and works to level the playing field so that young men of color can be just as successful as anyone else. The work that IYT does is dramatically changing the way our community looks at our brothers of color, but also the way the brothers look at themselves. Giving the brothers the tools they need to succeed and the self confidence to pursue their dreams will lift up their families, and, in turn, the whole community."