Founder / Executive Director of Educating Young Minds, Inc.
“Education forms a common mind, when the twig is bent, the tree inclines.” That quotation emanates from the Deep South, from an era when African-Americans were raised to value education and pass it on with reverence. Angeles Echols continues to honor this tradition. For more than 25 years, this native of Memphis, Tennessee has been imparting knowledge to students of all creeds, colors, and walks of life; put simply, she’s ‘educating young minds’ and making sure those twigs grow straight, tall and strong. What began in her one-room apartment with two children and only $50.00 has blossomed into a multi-faceted and diverse organization that has touched the lives of more than 1,000 students in grades K-12 and their parents. Educating Young Minds is a non-profit corporation that is supported by the generous support of individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies that provide grants that range from $500 to $1 million dollars.
Angeles LaRose Patricia Echols was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Will Eva and J.D. Echols and attended Georgia Elementary School, Hamilton Middle School, and graduated from Hamilton High School in 1975. Angeles Echols knows what it is like to start out life with challenges, and much of her childhood was spent growing up in the projects. When her mother faced raising Angeles and her two sisters alone, she made sure that she instilled in them the values of discipline, faith and education. And despite growing up in an environment where higher education seemed out of reach, she did not let this limit her horizons. She attended Cornell University and earned her B.A. in psychology, with an emphasis in child development and human behavior.
While attending Cornell, Angeles discovered a love for the arts and for working with young people. She was awarded $5,000 from Willard Straight Hall to produce the musical “An Evening of Soul”. She directed the gospel choirs on campus and off. When she was not studying or performing, she was tutoring students locally in math and English. She was always torn between her love for the arts and her love of teaching. After much prayer and soul searching, the path was chosen for her. She would become an advocate for children; she would become an educator and mentor, empowering children, parents, and families.
After college she worked as a tutor and instructor at a wide range of traditional and alternative schools: Harvard’s Upward Bound Program, Chaffey college in Rancho Cucamonga, Trinity Lutheran School in Los Angeles, Holy Name’s Multi-Purpose Center in Memphis, and at Alexander Berger Junior High School #139 in the Bronx.
It was Angeles’ tenure at Trinity Lutheran, a small private school, that opened her eyes to what she could accomplish in education, and that put her on the path to the creation of Educating Young Minds. There she was allowed to create programs and provide one-on-one attention to inner-city students. Given the success of her class, teachers and parents eagerly sought her assistance. Very quickly she discovered the tremendous demand and need in her community, especially among people of color, for supplemental educational and counseling services. Soon her apartment was filled every day with children, with every part of the apartment in use as an educational facility. The need for a stand-alone facility became clear. Thus Angeles founded Educating Young Minds Tutorial Program.
Educating Young Minds’ aim is to reach at-risk children and their families, channeling their energies toward achieving excellence. This is accomplished by linking high expectations with academic improvement through proven teaching and learning strategies and activities. Educating Young Minds provides a student/teacher ratio of 5:1 to better accommodate students (grades K-12) with different abilities and backgrounds.
The truest testament to Mrs. Echols’ work is the young men and women that graduate from EYM, succeed at college, and then return to their communities as role models and as leaders. Currently 8 former students are on staff at EYM and they are strong and active, and take on leadership roles within the organization. They are the future of EYM, and the lessons they have learned from Mrs. Echols they now teach to our students.
To provide a student’s view of Mrs. Echols, below is a short essay by one of her many former students:
LaShia Ransom, EYM Graduate 1999
USC 2003, B.A. DEGREE, SCHOOL 2007, M.A. Counseling- Marriage and Family
Founder Non-Profit "Enriching Communities"
Once upon a time, I was known as a "selfish little girl with a horrible attitude”, who at 14 knew everything and “didn't need anyone to tell me Anything", until that one late evening when my mother found me sitting on my bed crying into my Trigonometry book, with my TI-82 in hand. My mom asked, “What was wrong?” With tears in my eyes, I looked at my mom for the first time feeling like a failure. I responded, "I don't know how to do this! I've failed my 2nd math test!" My mom felt the defeat and sadness in my words. She hugged me and told me, she would figure it out and she would get me some help.
By the end of the week, my mother had found Educating Young Minds (EYM) and Ms. Echols in the yellow pages. I arrived at EYM, embarrassed to admit I needed help. (Please take note I had been an honor roll student since the first grade.) Asking for help was something I didn't know how to do. As my mother and I sat with Ms. Echols she looked at me, then at my mom, asking a lot of questions. I gave one word responses with the most negative attitude you could imagine. That's when Ms. Echols respectfully asked my mother to leave, no, she told her to get out of her office. What happened in that office I rather not mention today, just know that it was done with love and respect and I learned a lot of humility! The rest is history and was truly a blessing!
Needless to say, not only did I pass my Trigonometry class, I became one of the first students to receive a scholarship from EYM in 1999 and graduated from USC with honors in 2003. In 2007, I graduated with a Masters Degree in Counseling- Marriage & Family Child Therapy. Today I am a very humble and proud wife and mother, who is employed with the Los Angeles County Probation Department as a Deputy Probation Officer II, providing treatment and counseling to detained high risk offenders. Last year I co-founded my own non-profit organization, "Enriching Communities", to be an advocate for inner city youth suffering from substance abuse and dysfunctional family structures. I look forward to Ms. Echols joining my board of directors. With a strong foundation from my mother and the educational guidance from Ms. Echols-Brown, I too am making a difference in the lives of young people, giving them hope, self-esteem and guidance.
Angeles Echols’ philosophy of always putting the needs of the child first has created a culture and an environment at EYM where children are happy to be here. More than once I have had students tell me that EYM is their home away from home. It is a nurturing and academically empowering environment. There is no crying, no yelling, no fighting at EYM. The classrooms are orderly and productive. Visitors to the sight are often struck by how so many children can occupy a space and yet there is a sense of peace and tranquility. This is all the more remarkable because these same children are attending area schools that are notorious for rowdy and unproductive learning environments. It all comes down to leadership and high expectations.
Through hard work, good business sense, and a deep understanding of humanity, Angeles Echols built EYM into a thriving community based organization that believes that every child deserves a quality education. At the end of the day, Angeles Echols is one of those rare individuals who is excited not by the many accolades, but rather, the academic and emotional success of her students. Her vision, to expand the reach and the scope of EYM’s programs and mission is driven by an unquenchable thirst for achievement and support of children, that inspires her peers, students and empowers her parents, molding urban youth, one graduate at a time.
Angeles Echols married Richard Brown in 2008.
AWARDS / RECOGNITION:
KCET Local Heroes Award
KTLA’s Unsung Heroes Award
Member - President’s Council of Cornell Women
Jack & Jill of America, Inc. – Award of Appreciation
Recycling Black Dollars Masters of Education Award
Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC) Educational Leader of the Year
Crystal Stairs, Inc. – Certificate of Appreciation
City of Los Angeles Commendation
City of Los Angeles Certificate of Appreciation
United States Senate Certificate of Recognition
California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition to EYM
ACT Humanitarian Award – Angel of Education
PRISM Award in Education from Minorities in Business Magazine
City of Inglewood Commendation
Jackie Robinson Community Service Award
United Way Community Service Award
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SERGEANT CLYDE TERRY- EMERGING LEADERS
Meet the City of Compton's own, Sergeant Clyde Terry, who is transforming the lives of men and women that are returning home from prison and gang members who are looking to break the cycle of despair and violence. Sgt. Clyde Terry is a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and former U.S. Marine.
In 2003, he took a leave of absence from the Sheriff’s Department to assist the U.S. State Department as an International Police Advisor in their rebuilding efforts in Iraq. The experience changed his life. Soon after his return to Los Angeles, he began working directly with ex-prisoners, gang members and homeless youth to transform their outlook and their lives.
In 2009, he was asked to lead the Sheriff Department’s Emerging Leaders Academy. Only one percent of the participants, that is (probationers, gang members and parolees newly released from prison), have failed to remain crime-free. Many have returned to school to obtain their high school diplomas or GED’s and enrolled in college.
Sgt. Terry is a true role model for the Emerging Leaders Academy participants. A humble hero known for his integrity and commitment to a larger purpose, he is helping create a better world that works for everyone.
Sgt. Terry’s specialty is 'transformational leadership'. Sgt. Terry uses his many years of experience working in many rolls, to help master his craft. A certified Hypnotherapist, Master NLP Practitioner/Trainer and Performance Coach. Sgt. Terry uses those skills along with his street savvy and the coaching expertise from leadership coaches like Margaret Pazant, Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith and Rev. June Gatlin to help his clients produce breakthrough results.
Sgt. Terry is featured on an episode of the television show titled 'Investigation Discovery called “Breaking Point”. Sgt. Terry is also a two time recipient of "Season of Non-Violence" award for his leadership work in 2014 and in working with gang members, ex-offenders, and individuals living in underserved communities (Emerging Leaders Academy); 2015 for organizing a post Ferguson, Eric Garner, Baltimore community based training and empowerment summit with the intent to create a new community and law enforcement narrative.
Sgt. Terry is also the recipient of the 2015 "Medgar Evers" award given by the 'National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice'. Sgt. Terry has transferred these skills into corporate and business coaching. Specifically helping employees tap into their greater self.
Sgt. Terry is the proud father of an amazing 17 year old son, who he loves dearly.
What is Emerging Leaders Academy?
Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) is a partnership between the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Los Angeles Urban League ,Goodwill of Southern Los Angeles County and Agape International Spiritual Center. The program was created to provide life skills to ex-offenders, gang members and “at risk” persons providing them with essential skills for employment as an alternative to criminal behavior and violence. The Emerging Leaders Academy provides a path of opportunities for empowering participants to take a new direction in life.
The Emerging Leaders Academy curriculum consists of the following components:
1. Defining Excellence & Imagine 21/Fast Track to Change: provides a step-by-step approach to growth and success.
2. Career Development Institute: Job readiness and job preparation
3. Entrepreneurship: guidelines to starting and operating a business
4. Creative Writing Workshop: a literacy program using the student?s personal stories as a way of learning fundamental writing skills to discover and access writing talents and take their writing to the next level.
5. Financial Education: basic banking, personal budgeting, money management, and credit management
For more information on Sgt. Clyde Terry and his program 'Emerging Leaders' go to: www.emergingleaders360.org
JAYATON THOMAS - NOT ON MY WATCH!!!
Meet Coach Jay, Team Infinite Abilities Coach for 10 years. Coach Jay, professionally known as Jayaton K. Thomas, CEO and Founder of The House of Infinite Ability Youth Foundation, Inc. (Infinite Ability) has flown under the radar for over 10 years working with African American young men and using his Travel Basketball program as a vehicle to motivate them to finish high school, attend college and ultimately pursue their love, basketball, as a career. The House of Infinite Ability Youth Foundation, Inc. is Los Angeles' best kept secret which can not be contained any longer and is best known for it's Travel Basketball Program. Team Infinite Ability's players are commonly referred to as "unstoppable" and "impressive".
Coach Jay was born and raised in Sacramento, California, where he gained notoriety as a Pitcher and Center Fielder on his high school's varsity baseball team. He went on to attend 4 years of college at Sacramento City College and California State University where he played baseball as Center Fielder. Coach went on to play some professional baseball with various independent leagues until he discovered his love for coaching and working with kids. As he progressed through life and began to father children of his own, he realized the importance of reaching out to youth who had no father figures to lean on. The focus of his program is less about recognition but more about results and what he can do personally to instill, empower, motivate and inevitably change, forever, the lives and minds of the young men whose lives he touches.
For many of these young men, Coach Jay stands in the gap for the father they never knew, father they never had and big brother who cares enough to ensure that they understand "failure is not an option" and that the key to success: "Mind, Body and Soul is Your Path to Infinite Ability...110%", which is their motto. "I enjoy the game, the competition the sport and teaching", says Coach Jay. "When I was a kid at that age, I had support and was encouraged to pursue my goals of being a professional athlete, thus I believe that with proper teaching and guidance each individual can take their game to another level". Coach further revealed "I want these kids to have what I had and to know what I know. I have learned to equate life with sports because it has every aspect of life, school, learning to get along with others, learning to work cohesively with people you don't know, learning to deal with your own personal feelings and emotions and most importantly being a leader and being able to stand on your own".
Team Infinite Ability has had a successful spring and summer this year with the final game of the season playing in the Fab 48 Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. They participated in 9 tournaments and made it to 7 championship games, winning 4 of them, playing 41 games, and winning 30 of them. At the conclusion of the Las Vegas tournament, 5 of the 8 core players were offered college scholarships and Coach Jay has been busy assisting the team in completing their financial aid and taking them on college tours, an experience he says gave him an "indescribable and overwhelming feeling at the core of his soul". Coach Jay's accomplishments with the travel ball program speaks for itself.
After years of building long lasting relationships, Infinite Ability has served over 100 kids, some started in 2006 at age 12 and played thru high school and 95% of his players have enrolled in and attended college. Coach Jay's recent focus has been to be more involved in college placement and to date has helped 15 of the kids directly. One of the most rewarding accomplishments, according to Coach Jay, is watching his players evolve. For example he shared his experience with one of his players, Chaz. "Chaz was at the end of the bench in high school when I first met him, he did not get a lot of playing time. In 2014, he worked hard, followed my recommendations and came back this year and has proven to be a real vital part of our success for the entire season".
Coach Jay faces many challenges, convincing the kids that they are worth the time and that they have the ability to succeed and to achieve anything has been one of the challenges. "It is hard to convince these kids these days about what they are truly capable of, social interaction is not what it use to be with the iphone, ear plugs, internet and whatever else the kids are burying their heads into and a lot of parents have kind of let the kids go, due the daily pressures of life. Their self determination is not there and they look to blame others for their challenges, they have no confidence in themselves".
Another major challenge has been the financial support needed to play in the tournaments and facilitate the program. Most coaches get paid well to do what Coach Jay does, they coach "well-do-to" kids, from "well-do-to" communities with "well-do-to" families who pay their "well-do-to" fees. Coach Jay's kids on the other hand are struggling just to survive. They come from low income homes and communities in South Central LA, from single parent homes, from the foster care system and from homes where they, along with countless other siblings are being raised by their grandmother. So collecting fee's to cover Coach Jay's expenses has always been an issue he has tried to over come. Yet somehow, he makes a way even if it comes out of his pocket at the end of the day, and usually it does. In a recent conversation with Coach Jay, he shared how he would try for months to raise funds to get these young men to various local tournaments and the Fab 48 tournament in Las Vegas.
Many times sponsors would pledge support but were no where to be found when it was time to disburse the funds to cover the expenses. One year, despite the fact that he did not have sufficient funds, he piled the team into his van, drove to Las Vegas, and got 1 room at the hotel and all of the guys found a place on the floor where they slept with a blanket and a pillow. The team made it to the championship round that year. "My compensation is not about a dollar amount", states Coach Jay, "My reward comes from the fulfillment of a much higher calling, but of course funding would make it easier to accomplish everything that I need to accomplish for them, so of course my challenge involves money. "I owe the success of this years tournaments to a few supporters like Chozzen Empire Entertainment, SEIU721, Vee Williams Entertainment, United Way, PC Consulting, Kelly Mortgage & Realty and a host of family, friends and social media followers.
When asked where Coach recruited his team from, he stated that he gets referrals all of the time from other coaches, colleagues, schools, present and past team members and he is often approached at tournaments after his team has played. When asked about his most recent recruits Coach mentioned one young man he was interested in working with, this young man, although very talented, had a reputation of being very "challenging" to deal with. When asked if Coach would turn him away because of his reputation he replied "of course not, he is the kind of kid I would take in a heart beat...I love this kind of challenge”.
"These young men are me, me when I was their age", said Coach Jay. "I am giving them what I had at their age, guidance, a strong male presence and role model to help them realize their goals". "My professional career in baseball was possible mostly because of my own efforts and also because of the support of family. I want to make sure these young men do not have to try to figure it out on their own but instead I want them to be able to make well informed decisions knowing that they are not alone and have a support system behind them".
They say it takes a village to raise a child....I strongly disagree, I believe it takes ACTIVE MEMBERS of a village to raise a child. Coach Jay has been an active member of the village but he cannot do it alone. He needs you to join him in mentoring, motivating and sponsoring these young men. "Allowing these young men to fall through the cracks, become another statistic, end up in prison, in gangs or on drugs and give up on education and a prosperous future is not an option...NOT ON MY WATCH!" Exclaims Coach Jay.
To find out how you can help Coach Jay by sponsoring a team member, a tournament, transportation etc., contact Coach Jay at (213) 986-5259 or visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-House-of-Infinite-Ability-Youth-Foundation-Inc/1671641833059013
IF YOU DON'T WHO WILL?
Written By: Veda Williams, Vee Williams Entertainment