Teaching children that they are capable of doing amazing things can be absolutely life changing.
This type of mindset was instilled in Akayla Brown and, at just 13 years old, she discovered her calling to pass that message along to others. It all started when a fight between two kids her age broke out as she was walking home after school. This gave her the push she needed to try and do something about the violence in Philadelphia.
With the help of her mom, Angela Richardson, she founded Dimplez 4 Dayz, a non-profit “dedicated to empowering the youth voice and reducing youth violence in Philadelphia by promoting the resources and programs that can enable young people to build confidence and fulfill their potential.”
“I have to give back to my community,” Akayla said. “If not me then who is going to do it?”
In doing so, Akayla created the first and only youth-funded youth program in the city at just 13 years old.
Since then, Dimplez 4 Dayz has had a tremendous impact on local youth through various outreach programs and partnerships with fellow organizations, reaching over 10,000 families. But now that Akayla is 19 years old, the impact she’s having on her community only continues to grow.
Thanks to private donations and grants, along with money from Akayla’s own savings, the non-profit was able to expand by opening a resource center in November 2021. But this isn’t just any resource center — it was carefully created to be a safe space for kids to hang out, meet and connect with mentors, and learn about opportunities they may have not learned about otherwise.
“With my resource center I am going to work with more teens now to combat gun violence and work on the trauma that’s happening in Philadelphia,” she said.
In the few months since the center officially opened its doors, the desire for this type of resource has become abundantly clear. According to Angela, there are 50 teens enrolled in their workforce development program, while 120 are on the waitlist.
Having accomplished so much already, it can be easy to forget that Akayla is just 19 years old. In fact, she recently started attending Brown University through scholarships, including the 2021 Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship. Needless to say, this intelligent young woman has a bright road ahead of her, and the resource center is just the beginning.
“It’s giving me more hope that I’m going to be able to be that change for good that I want to be for my city,” she said. “I’m going to be able to be that hope for my city.”
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