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Life & Work with Wynter Eddins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Wynter Eddins.

Hi Wynter, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
From the age of eight, I wrote short stories and loved to immerse myself in books and works of art. I enjoyed performing and began acting on stage through middle school and high school. The stage was always a place I found my power and my voice. In my undergraduate program at Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN), I studied Communications and was enrolled in a poetry class. There I found my love for poetry and spoken word. I began to perform open mics around the San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles, stepping into the light and claiming my stage name, Coldest Wynter. It wasn’t until after I graduated from CSUN, I stumbled into Education. I became an educator for elementary students while still acting and performing on stage. When I was 23 years old, I entered into a relationship that turned for the worst. I ended up almost losing my life to strangulation. That was the moment I opened my eyes. I truly believe it was my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who saved me that evening. From that moment on, I decided I would never again be a victim to violence and began to advocate against domestic violence and teen domestic violence. I sought therapy and began to tell my story. I became a violence prevention specialist for the nonprofit organization.

Using my poetry to defend against violence in all its forms, I published a book of poetry titled Morph Bred. I then decided to pursue my teaching credential and my Masters in Education. For me, Education was the key because it gave me strength, insight and understanding in my purpose. It also provided necessary tools and strategies to engage my students. As I worked on my masters and taught full time as an English Language Development (ELD) educator, I worked with all English Learners, students who benefited from curriculum that focused specifically on academic use of the English language. There in the classroom, I began to really listen to my students, especially my young ladies who would confide in me and ask questions in regards to relationships and relationship building. Answers that I was not able to “fully” give in the traditional realm of teaching. I felt frustrated that I could not support young people with relevant education about building and sustaining healthy relationships. Finishing the credential and master’s program, I found myself unfulfilled. Something was missing. It felt like I was going through the motions in the classroom, teaching what I was told to teach, and not really impacting my students on the most important aspects of their life.

That is where Simply Youth Institute (SYI) was born, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit for young women to learn finance and wellness education. I started my nonprofit for young women to teach finance and wellness education. It was crucial for me that women understood their finances because coming from an abusive relationship, finance was and is the number one reason victims stay in toxic/violent relationships. Additionally, I felt it was necessary to also educate about all aspects in wellness. I wanted my organization to focus on six spheres of wellness: emotional, mental, spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical. The mission for Simply Youth Institute was to serve women, predominantly women of color who I saw were not getting the resources they deserved. I believe every person deserves to understand their finances and find peace in their life.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Starting a nonprofit was not an easy feat. I had people encouraging me to stay comfortable in teaching, but it was on my heart to see it through. Finding a team was a challenge because it takes a group of amazing and committed individuals to bring vision to life. I was blessed to find that team through meeting like-minded women who were passionate about the financial and wellness topics we were teaching. Additionally, finding our clients, the young women is still a challenge till today. The pandemic has given the organization a unique opportunity to reach women across the nation, however it has also challenged us because many young people are “Zoom fatigued” with the pandemic ongoing, it is challenging to find and retain our students.

Another obstacle was becoming a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non profit. I decided to tackle the paperwork myself, and that was quite the feat. By the grace of God, we were blessed with our tax exemption status a few months into launching the organization and it really solidified that SY I was needed and necessary. Sustaining a non-profit requires the partnerships and funding from many, and it has been an exciting challenge to make those partnerships, find those donors, and keep the company delivering the services it has promised.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am the founder and chief executive officer for Simply Youth Institute, a nonprofit teaching finance and wellness education to young women in underserved communities, addressing generational poverty. I am also a published author and an artist. I perform spoken word and act in T.V. and film. I am most proud of my nonprofit because it is my life’s work. We started last year and have already served 1000 Los Angeles families with our community events and services. We have launched our first program: Stance on Finance and enrolled more than 60 young women. It is truly a blessing to be able to teach young women relevant education that can be applied to their overall well-being, I use my lived experiences to improve and better myself and my community. I truly believe we must serve one another, and running SYI gives me a sense of urgency to really show up for the youth. Education is useful when it can be applied, and that is exactly what my organization does. I want all youth to feel encouraged and connected. More than ever, it is crucial young people are staying connected and not slipping into the cracks of depression and isolation. It is imperative we (adults) show up for the youth.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I was eccentric. I loved to perform. For example, I remember taking the school bus in Elementary school where I would gladly stand up and sing and dance a song I had created from a short story I wrote about a red meteor. I performed it absolutely everywhere. When guest speakers would come to the school and ask for volunteers to join them on stage in the auditorium, I would jolt up and run to the stage so fast to make sure I was the first one in line. I would sign up for every performance contest there was. I remember winning Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech contest in middle school. I loved Education. I studied the dictionary and ended up becoming the Antelope Valley champion by 5th grade. I also loved Basketball, I was athletic just like my father and my brothers. I played on the Basketball team through high school. I enjoyed writing my stories and begging to read them in all of my English classes growing up. I loved to read and I loved to watch movies. I would always cast myself in certain roles and see myself on the screen.

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