Today we’d like to introduce you to Sylvester Ani.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Sylvester. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in Inglewood, California, but was raised and lived in Cerritos. My family came to the US from Nigeria, & my father was murdered there when I was 13. My younger brother passed away six years after that & these losses changed the trajectory of my life to where being in service to others has become my life’s purpose. When Nipsey was killed last year, a fire was lit inside of me to do more than I was doing to help others. The passion he displayed in investing in his community gave me a blueprint on how I could best honor the sacrifices he made & where to start. So I reached out to 59th st elementary, Crenshaw high school, & Hamilton high school to pay off lunch debts students had. When I came to 59th st however the way the children/staff embraced me led me to begin volunteering weekly as a mentor/positive influence to the kids.
Following Nipseys vision of bridging the gap between the hood and Silicon Valley, I reached out to digital dragon to inquire about hosting a coding/programming event at the school. Once I gave them my backstory on why I was offering to pay for everything they offered to host the event for free! After that event was successful I began working on starting an entrepreneurship program in honor of Nipsey that was set to launch this march on the anniversary of his death before the coronavirus shut down schools. Since it’s been postponed, I’ve shifted my efforts to providing journals/food/supplies for children, medical workers, & essential workers to offer a platform of expression for them during this time & free resources to help support them during this difficult time.
Has it been a smooth road?
The most difficult part of this journey is waiting for outside moving pieces to fall into place when I feel I’m ready to act. When you have a vision, you have to understand that you can’t bring that vision to life without the assistance of others. So whether it be reaching out to news outlets to spread the word, waiting on schools to contact you back, or getting supplies in to distribute patience is apart of the game. COVID-19 also presented a dilemma because the focus of my work was centered around students and now with schools closing it made it more difficult to reach students.
Watching the work Lebron James and his foundation has done with his I-Promise Academy has sparked so many ideas in terms of curriculum that I plan on implementing into programs after school for students. One thing that stood out to me about his school was the amount of women he had in positions of leadership and I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Kristin Luettger, Kenosha Hawkins, Meishel Kearse, & Ashley Emery for making it possible to bring my vision to life. There are too many contributors to name to make any of this possible I must highlight these strong, intelligent , & resourceful women that I’m forever indebted to because of their commitment to making every idea to positively impact lives possible. I wholeheartedly believe anything can be accomplished when you surround yourself with a group of determined women. Women make life easier for humanity & I would be doing the women in my life a disservice if I didn’t acknowledge their contributions my organization.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Love We Don’t See – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
The origin of my nonprofit began with a vision titled “The Love We Don’t See” Which aims at highlighting and sharing the love that we all contribute to the world. Under that umbrella the M5 Initiative was born and its primary focus was beating the odds and statistics society has against our youth in our inner-city communities to succeed. The objective is to inject love & programs that promote opportunities for positive generational change/growth into communities. Points of emphasis under the M5 Initiative are introducing students to coding/program, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, social-emotional learning, multicultural learning to better aid students to understand the world around them & the people from different culture backgrounds whom they share the world with. As an organization, we are most proud of the fact that we lead with love in everything we do & truly believe that because of that, we can accomplish every goal we have to assist communities who need it the most. What sets us apart is that we are not driven by personal gain & we measure the success of our own lives by the impact we can have on others. I personally work with individuals who have autism & traumatic brain injuries as a personal attendant.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I love the most about the city is the amount of potential I see in it & the people who inhabit it. What I like the least about the city is the lack of resources that prohibit the city and its people from reaching their full potential. There is more than money we can invest into businesses, schools, & property to improve the quality of those who call Los Angeles home but we need more individuals in positions of power to put the needs of the least fortunate to the forefront.
- Run For Touchdowns Not Cover Sweater :$25
- Website: TheLoveWeDontSee.org
- Phone: 5624841047
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @TheLoveWeDontSee