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“I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”  ~Michael Jordan






What is Your Mission?

Tavis Smiley Foundation mission is to enlighten, encourage and empower youth by providing leadership training that will promote and enhance the quality of life for themselves, their communities and our world.


How Can I Learn More about Tavis Smiley Foundation?

Our website is the most comprehensive source of information about our organization. There you can find a wealth of information on our programs. You can also watch multimedia videos describing the work we do. If you'd like to receive updates on our work, stories about our young leaders and information regarding events, please sign up for our monthly email newsletter.


When and where did the Tavis Smiley Foundation start?

Author, advocate, radio and talk show host Tavis Smiley founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation (TSF) in 1999 in Los Angeles after granting a request from a single mother to have her son, Will, "shadow" him for a day. Judy Williams was seeking a role model for her son, but the experience proved to be just as positive for Tavis.

When listeners of the nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show heard about Will's shadowing experience, thousands called Tavis to request that their daughter, niece or nephew spend the day with him as well. Tavis, who at a young age was inspired by one of his mentors to serve people, recognized the need for a leadership program that would allow him to reach and inspire hundreds of youth. Tavis Smiley Foundation became an official 501(c)(3) charity in 1999.

Who is Tavis Smiley?

For more information about Tavis Smiley, you can read his memoirs: What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America and FAIL UP: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure. And, you can visit his website at

Can I get Tavis Smiley to come to my school or speak at my event? or at 323-290-4690 for availability and fees.


Does the Tavis Smiley Foundation provide grants or sponsorships?

No, the Tavis Smiley Foundation is 501(c) (3) public charity. It does not provide grants or sponsorships to other non-profit organizations or individuals.

How do I stay updated on the work Tavis Smiley Foundation is doing?

A lot happens at the Tavis Smiley Foundation and with our founder, Tavis Smiley. The best way to keep abreast of our progress is to sign up for our newsletter. We don't spam and don’t we sell your information to outside parties. We simply like to keep you up to date on everything that is going on and occasionally email invitations to Tavis Smiley Foundation events in your area. Click here to join the newsletter.


How can my organization or school partner with you to help promote your work?

The best way for organizations and schools to join with us is to send youth delegates to the Leadership Institute. It’s our core program and is held every summer. Attendees who participate leave inspired and enthusiastic about their future and take the knowledge back to their communities which helps us to build more leaders nationwide.


How can I get my company involved?

There are multiple ways in which to engage your company in the work of Tavis Smiley Foundation. The following are a few suggestions:

  1. Get Tavis Smiley Foundation added to your company's list of approved non-profit organizations. This enables employees to select Tavis Smiley Foundation as the designate for their charitable giving, and to receive matching corporate donations.
  2. If your company has a corporate foundation, suggest Tavis Smiley Foundation for corporate funding or connect our staff with the right people within the foundation department. We are always looking to expand and diversify our funding base, and we would welcome introductions to any corporate foundation that is interested in supporting leadership development and educational programs.
  3. Start a corporate or community fundraiser. Many individuals working in both small and large corporations have decided to launch fundraising campaigns within their corporations to support one of the Tavis Smiley Foundation's projects.

These are some of the more popular ways in which people choose to get their companies involved with Tavis Smiley Foundation. If you have another idea, please let us know! Send an email to If you need additional information or have an idea on how you want to get your workplace involved with Tavis Smiley Foundation.

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Contact Us!

By Mail:
Tavis Smiley Foundation
4434 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90043

By Phone:

By Fax:

Foundation Staff:
Jacqueline Murray
Project Administrator
Telephone: 323-290-1888, ext 228

General Information/Youth:

To Book Tavis Smiley:
Jeremy Berry
Managing Partner – High Quality Speakers Bureau
Telephone: 323-290-2311

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