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Meet Tavelyn James

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tavelyn James.

Tavelyn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a native of Detroit, Michigan and attended Eastern Michigan University. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in health administration and I am currently in graduate school for my Master’s. Being from Detroit, everything wasn’t as easy as it seemed. I started out playing sports at an early age. My first sport was cheerleading. One day in practice the basketball team was having tryout and I decided to try out. Believe it or not, I made the team. My passion for basketball developed that day in 5th grade. I continued basketball through middle school and high school and even played AAU. I grew up in a single-parent home, so paying for AAU basketball wasn’t easy for my mom. We struggled sometimes but we never looked at it that way because we had not always struggled. As kids, my siblings and I just kind of “went with the flow”.

As my high school career started to end I started getting many offers from Universities but ultimately decided to take my talents to Eastern Michigan University. I excelled at EMU, holding the EMU Eagles’ historic record with 2,470 points. I became the first athlete in the Mid-American Conference to play for the USA TEAM (Pan-American Games) and EMU’s first athlete to win Player of Year in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). I was the recipient for the 2012 Frances Pomeroy Naismith award, which is presented annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation’s outstanding female collegian 5-feet-8-inches and under who has excelled both athletically and academically.

After having a spectacular career, I took my talents to the WNBA Minnesota Lynx’s to only be cut after pre-season. I wasn’t a player whose dream was to play in the WNBA, I just wanted to play. The opportunity was amazing and I got to play with some of the best women in the United States. After the WNBA, I went to play professionally in Europe for seven years. While in Europe, I developed my plan to start my own non-profit organization. I thought about the struggles I faced as a kid in Detroit and how there was no one to mentor or guide me. There were decisions I had to make for myself that I had no clue about. So I founded the “Tavelyn James Foundation”.

The Tavelyn James Foundation is a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Corporation seeking to help children reach their full potential as a student and athlete. To help children get an opportunity to improve their education as well as life skills, so they can increase their chances to improve their communities. To help raise money for student-athletes and children looking to expand their education.

Allowing them to continue their education to succeed and better their communities by promoting next-generation higher standards. To conduct charitable services to better the community while developing our youth. To eliminate devaluing our youth, to coordinate economically sound leadership skills. Teaching children to develop and embrace progression while continuing to serve their communities.

The Tavelyn James Foundation has partnered with Eastern Michigan University and Detroit Public Schools to implement its E.M.B.R.A.C.E program. E.M.B.R.A.C.E stands for Educating Myself For Better Resource Awareness and Community Empowerment. I soon hope to implement this mentorship program in Atlanta Public School. I am active in Atlanta, as I am a panelist for the ANDREW YOUNG EMERGING LEADERS INSTITUTE, where I speak to high school and college students about their futures and the struggles I endured on my way to success.

The Tavelyn James Foundation hosts its KUTZ for KIDZ every year in Atlanta and Detroit and also our back to school skating party. Our Annual Gala is a dinner party that allows us to raise money for our non-profit and also an event where we give two $1,000 college scholarships to our essay winners.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Founded a non-profit for me was not easy at all. As a professional athlete most people don’t understand the concept of donations. It took me a very long time to get sponsors and money donated. People believed because I was a professional athlete, I should be able to fund it myself, granted I did in the beginning but that’s not the purpose of a non-profit. Once I started getting myself out there more and getting others to buy into my work, I started to get more and more sponsors and donations. But for me, one of the biggest struggles I’ve encountered is having black businesses sponsor or donate. I never understood why when I’m sure they would relate more to what I’m trying to do for our community.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
The Tavelyn James Foundation is a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Corporation seeking to help children reach their full potential as a student and athlete. To help children get an opportunity to improve their education as well as life skills, so they can increase their chances to improve their communities. To help raise money for student-athletes and children looking to expand their education.

We specialize in being us and helping those who are seeking ways to better themselves. We are most proud of being in business for three years now and have given six scholarships along the way. What sets us apart is our style, how we approach people and our ever so elegant Gala’s.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My biggest supporters are my college professional and his wife. Their names are William and Barbara Lavery. They are also corporate sponsors of the Tavelyn James Foundation. Mr. Lavery was my college professor and has always believed in anything I’ve done. When I was in college, sometimes assignments for our class would be for them to come to a basketball game and describe any unethical decisions I made during that game. The class he taught that semester was ‘Ethics in Healthcare”. The role they play in my non-profit is unmatched, from donations, suggestions, guidance and advice.

Pricing:

  • Tavelyn James Foundation T-shirts $10-$25

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kardiak Films, LLC

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