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Life & Work with Ebone Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ebone Smith.

Hi Ebone, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Born and raised in Memphis, TN. I was raised in a family that values looking out for our people and taking care of our community. I am an educator with a background in both education and Psychology. I am currently pursuing my doctorate degree in Applied Clinical Psychology.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2016. My first teaching job here in LA was at an elementary school in South Los Angeles. As an educator and woman of color, I immediately became moved by the discrepancies in our South LA community compared to other communities around Los Angeles. I found myself especially concerned with how it impacts our girls of color. I wanted to show up for our young girls as more than just an educator, but a safe space and mentor. I noticed that although there are extra-curricular activities such as dance and sports available to our girls, there was a lack of programming that invested specifically in our girls’ social-emotional wellbeing. Once I made the conscious decision to be a resource, I researched the needs of our girls of color in the immediate community through meeting with other teachers, counselors, school administration, and parents to assess common themes and needs. Based on my research and experience as an educator, I created a mentoring program called R.I.S.E. Girls’ Mentorship Program, now WE ARE R.I.S.E. Inc… R.I.S.E. standing for “Resilient, Intelligent, Successful, and Empowered.” The inspiration for its name came from our beloved, Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise.” My nonprofit was founded to provide a safe space and opportunities for young girls to learn, thrive, and be beacons of light within their own communities. Since our founding in 2017, we have worked with over 60 mentees and families.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
For the most part, yes it has been a smooth road, I strongly feel that I am walking in my purpose. With walking in my purpose, my heart has been my guide and with following my heart, I have learned to trust my faith.

Struggles along the way are what led me to turn my mentorship program into a nonprofit organization. When I started R.I.S.E., I personally funded the programming which worked until COVID struck our community. During the beginning stages of the COVID pandemic shutdown, families reached out to me inquiring about resources, and because we were not a nonprofit, I did not have the means to assist and provide for some of those needs. From that moment on, I made a commitment to myself that I am going to do everything I can to get the necessary resources to our mentees and families. Through turning R.I.S.E. into a nonprofit organization, we have since been able to get donations and adequate funding to make sure our mentees have what they need to thrive socially, emotionally, and physically.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am most proud of my trust in myself and vision to start and run a mentoring program for black and brown girls. I am also proud of the impact my nonprofit organization has made since its founding.

What sets me apart from others is my genuine compassion for others, my ability to identify solutions to problems as they relate to our youth, and my internal drive to plan, execute and follow through on those solutions.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
Who deserves credit is my family who has always remained in my corner throughout my entire journey. My two close sorority sisters, Anjelica and Deidra, who have literally had my back since day one. My WE ARE R.I.S.E. Inc. board members, who from the moment they got on board have selflessly been major support systems for R.I.S.E., and everyone who has either given me a piece of advice or word of encouragement along my path.

Contact Info:

  • Email: weareriseinc@gmail.com
  • Website: weareriseinc.org
  • Instagram: we_are_rise_inc


Image Credits:

Picture 1-Personal Headshot shot Pictures 2-7 WE ARE R.I.S.E. Inc. authorized photos with mentees and mentors

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