We had the good fortune of connecting with LaTanya Sherman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi LaTanya, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
We help the community by providing services and programs tailored to the well-being of our homeless in Los Angeles County with a primary focus on Skid Row. What’s unique about Project Educate is that we’ve created a customized program designed to Inform, Inspire and Influence the homeless to reach and maximize their full potential using Fitness, Education, and Diet (FED) as the foundation for their health, wellness, and success. We are one of the few organizations during Covid-19 that have remained consistent in hand delivering thousands of hygiene kits, masks, and PPE essentials to the homeless through our signature monthly “Grab n Go” events. This is a Covid friendly way to maintain human connection and dignity while delivering services and protecting their health and ours. In addition to FED, we also provide service to several different tent cities throughout Los Angeles through our TAG (Toiletries And Grooming) initiative. Residents of tent cities are particularly vulnerable within our community because they are subject to the harsh conditions of living on the streets, disease, and have a higher mortality rate. Project Educate helps the community by striving to restore hope and dignity to our homeless population. We recognize the importance in valuing the humanity of our neighbors, and are working diligently everyday towards building a more inclusive and thriving Los Angeles. We recognize that this vision cannot be materialized until we address the tragedy that is homelessness unfolding before us. In the meantime, we will continue to teach people how to live in spite of where they live.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Project Educate is a 501(c)(3) Non-profit whose mission is to alleviate the suffering while improving the quality of life for homeless men, women, and children. What truly sets us apart is the research we conducted with SRO Housing, Los Angeles Police Department, Mental Health Counselors, Educators, Transitional home owners, current and former homeless men and women. This allowed us to create a customized program and services that are innovative, creative, and unique. Project Educate was the first organization in over 17 years to bring a movie night to the homeless community in Skid Row. We created a Covid friendly grab n go process to continue to serve the homeless during the pandemic. We are most proud of this work we have done, and continue to do in 2020. Highlights would be the Spring Fling which allowed us to demonstrate the grab n go effectiveness. Our Summer Survival Event in July which took place over 3 days and supported more than 675 homeless individuals with mask, hygiene kits and PPE. We supported 2 Los Angeles County Project Room Key initiatives with 175 hygiene kits for each project. Our Sweet Saturday on Skid Row provided sweet treats, refreshing beverages, and ice cold water during the hot summer month of August to more than 200 individuals and in September we partnered with the Brown Mae Foundation to host the Health, Hygiene, and Healing event where we provided fresh fruits, smoothies, and other healthy snacks to more than 200 homeless men, women, and children. This event also allowed us to create another first. Our Fitness Advisor, Kim Jackson-Matthews, provided exercise to the homeless and a wheel chair bound man was inspired to stretch and stand for the first time in years! We have learned that each homeless person has a different story to tell and with each story comes different results for changing the narrative of their story. At Project Educate our goal is to create innovative solutions and provide creative services that go beyond the basic necessities of shelter and food. We want to emphasize the humanity of these people, and remind them that they have an abundance of potential. We believe that homelessness is a temporary condition. And when people are provided with quality resources (healthcare, education, housing, etc.) necessary to affirm their well-being and worth, their possibilities are limitless. Our vision is to transform hopelessness into purpose, desperation into motivation, and feelings of defeat into those of empowerment. We want to cultivate a path of independent and balanced living while providing motivation along the way. “Teaching people how to live in spite of where they live” is what Project EDUCATE is all about!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As a Los Angeles native and foodie breakfast would start Monday at Roscoe’s LAX, a tour of Inglewood and surrounding cities, lunch at The Conference Room Restaurant in Playa Vista, relax poolside then happy hour at the Yard House followed by a dinner cruise in the Marina wrapping the night up exploring Hollywood and West Los Angeles night life. Tuesday would kick off with Venice Beach in the morning, fresh smoothies from Rainbow Acres, Dulan’s Soul Food for lunch and jerk patties from Simply Wholesome followed by a drive up the coast stopping and shopping as we see fit. Happy hour at The District on Crenshaw and dinner at Javier’s or Calo+kitchen tequila for chips, salsa, and margaritas for the best Taco Tuesday in town. Wednesday would start with shrimp and grits and buttered biscuits from the Flavor Table, followed by LA live, a tour of Beverly Hills, Bel Aire, and other mansion cities of interest. We would hit Griffith Park and the observatory, visit the Getty Museum. Grab a burger from In n Out or Fat Burger and spend the remainder of the day at Universal Studios with dinner at Barton G. Thursday would begin with breakfast at the Coffee Company followed by a full day exploring the magic of Downtown Disney, Disneyland and California Adventure. The evening would be spent having dinner and listening to live music at Harold & Belle’s or La Louisianne. Friday would be reserved for visiting Watts Towers, The Inkwell, California African American Museum, Leimert Park and other African American historical sites and points of interest.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My son Orlance Shirley! He created the name for Project Educate and the Educate stands for “Empowering Disadvantaged Underserved Communities All Through Education”. He volunteers when home from college and works with the Board and Advisors as he continues to pour ideas into our projects and programs. And, my Board of Directors (Evynn Davis, LaTonya Reliford, Shilana Williams, Miracle Wilber, Kim Jackson-Matthews, and Brandy Wade) who support the infrastructure and protect the vision of Project Educate and contribute immensely to the organization. There would be no Project Educate without all of them!