For Jowan Smith, family life is an incubator of ideas.
She created Getting Our Babies to College 101 (GOBTC), a nonprofit based on experiences with her daughter’s college application process. Now, she’s hosting an event sparked by a question from her son.
“My son came to me about tying a tie, and I had no idea how to do it,” Smith says. “I asked a few neighbors that could not do it either, so my son ended up going on YouTube to learn.”
From this experience, Smith was inspired to gather the community together to pass along this skill and the intergenerational support that typically goes along with it. The event — called 1,000 Ties — aims to empower young men (ages 6 to 21) on Saturday, February 16.
“It used to be a common practice to wear ties, but the skill is getting lost,” says Smith.
Many young men don’t have a tie, let alone a person who can teach them how to tie it. It’s a skill that’s still necessary in the business world, yet often overlooked, assumed that somewhere along the line someone will provide that spark of knowledge. Smith is determined to be that spark.
“I hope each young man learns to tie, picks a few great ties and connects with someone for a mentor possibility,” Smith says about 1,000 Ties.
The event will feature workshops on male etiquette and proper dress, a workshop for parents with a licensed school psychologist, resource tables, raffles, a special surprise guest and words of motivation from the “Man of Inspiration,” Dr. Antoine Moss. Representatives from Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative, Passages, Towards Employment and Say Yes Cleveland also will be present. All young men will have the opportunity to choose two ties — and, of course, receive a lesson.
“I hope that attendees will leave inspired and empowered,” says Moss, who has worked with Smith on community projects over the last decade. The “Man of Inspiration” shares his story of overcoming poverty, a single parent home and a lack of access to quality education.
It’s these types of proactive solutions — ones created by people from within the community who are in tune with what families need — that lift us up as a region. But Smith doesn’t stop with Northeast Ohio. She aims to take her mission of empowerment and education nationwide. Currently, Getting Our Babies to College 101 has programs in five school districts and one prison.
“Our goal is to have our curriculum in every school district all over the country, with parent leaders like myself facilitating,” says Smith, adding that she’ll have a “big announcement” about what’s coming next for the organization during 1,000 Ties.
Right now, it starts with the first step: teaching young men to confidently tie a tie.
11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, February 16
East Professional Center, 1349 E. 79th St.
Free and open to all youth ages 6 to 21 and their families. Attendees are required to register online prior to the event.