Stay Connected


Our Story of Success

I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." Muhammad Ali




To date more than 6,500 youth have been impacted by the work of the Tavis Smiley Foundation’s leadership conferences, workshops and lecture series. Our alumni accomplishments prove our premise that young leaders are achievers.
Here is how our work has made a difference in the lives of young people.

  • TSF has provided nearly $400,000 in scholarships through the Smiley Scholars program to help students attend college. More than 500 program alumni have now entered and or have completed college.
  • Tavis Smiley has talked to more than 2,000 students at 30 high schools about leadership and service through the Talented Tenth High School Tour.
  • Our first intern, Victor Marsh, has degrees from Princeton and Stanford universities; he served on the Foundation’s board of directors, and he is currently managing America’s response to the Haiti relief efforts as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State.
  • Alumni have worked for political leaders including former Democratic National Party Chairman Howard Dean and Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Williams.
  • Jonathan Quarles, who at age 15 was the recipient of the foundation's first Emerging Youth Leader award, was profiled by Ebony magazine as one of the Top 30 Leaders Under 30 in February 2007. He is now a graduate of Florida A&M University and the director of corporate and government affairs at W Industries in Detroit.
  • In Philadelphia a group of 20 youth trained by the foundation started their own non-profit and each year select a social issue to highlight and bring awareness to. To date, Youth Action has addressed issues such as homelessness, youth obesity, teen voting. This year (2011) they celebrate their seventh anniversary. 
  • Program teens in Los Angeles participated in an HIV/AIDS awareness project that resulted in getting 500 teens tested for HIV in 2001. One tested positive for the disease.
  • Smiley Scholars recipient John Brice created a mentoring program pairing Morehouse College student volunteers with 47 fifth graders from an Atlanta elementary school.
  • Alumnus Christina Sanders, past president of the Texas Southern University Student Government Association, was part of a team of student leaders who organized donation drives for HBCU students impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
  • In Houston, alumni have been hired to facilitate other youth group dialogues and traveled as delegates to South Africa in a youth exchange on the global challenges of HIV/AIDs.