BY SONNY PINKNEY
There is a saying: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ and that saying certainly describes the life of serial entrepreneur and educator, Ty Woods. She had every excuse to give up on life, and perhaps, even to feel sorry for herself. Instead, after being homeless, she worked tirelessly in a last-ditch effort to get accepted into Life University, a small Georgia school in 2006. The culmination of Woods’ educational journey was being named class valedictorian, a great feat for someone who was rejected from every other college that she applied to.
At 14-years-old, Woods along with other family members were a part of a neighborhood gang in Los Angeles. She had the courage to leave the gang to fulfill her passions, in arts and sports before graduating from high school.
Unlike some of her relatives, she did not become a product of her environment. Fast forward and she co-founded the Atlanta-based non-profit organization, Artportunity Knocks in 2009. Woods believes that like her, kids deserve a second chance.
“There are pockets of LA here in Atlanta. That is why my facility is in Adamsville, Southwest Atlanta,” said Woods. “I wanted to reach people who were like me. I want them to see that here is a successful woman in your neighborhood that was you. I came from the hood. I was in a gang. If I can do it, you can too.” Woods stated.
Woods explained how she overcame obstacles in her life—and turned her setbacks into lessons and pain into purpose.
“Once I started to develop self-worth, I realized that I did not have to keep destroying myself through unhealthy habits, but that if I just focus on being my best self, I will achieve anything I put my mind to.” Woods admitted.
During the 2008 recession, Woods realized that arts programs would be phased out of school budgets. So she, along with her husband, took it upon themselves to host small Bible studies and at the conclusion, they fed the kids and conducted performing arts classes in their 2-bedroom apartment.
As the organization’s Executive Director, she explains the main premise is to motivate and elevate the youth through the arts. Artportunity Knocks commits itself to offering high-quality STEM and arts education programs for students in grades K-12.
“To date the organization has served more than 25,000 students and has an estimated national impact of over 100,000 through our professional development curriculum.”
Woods acknowledges that there are issues in the educational system within the inner cities of America. For that reason, she has incorporated different methods of learning, to keep her students engaged. Additionally, Woods believes that food nutrition is vital for students to have energy and be focused throughout the day.
“We learned incredibly early on that we had to take a holistic approach to arts education. What I mean about holistic, is that we have to focus on the whole child” she said.
Despite the CoronaVirus pandemic, which has affected everyone globally, Woods, who owns five other businesses – has successfully maneuvered her company, Artportunity Knocks by joining forces with the State of Georgia to deliver emails to their students and to check on the well-being of their families.
Woods shared some of her other recent projects to feedbackthemagazine.com. The entrepreneur penned her first book called, “14 ways to make $1000 a month,” which took the educator years to complete. It provides suggestions and proven strategies for how people can make extra money each month to stay afloat, regardless of the situation. As someone who has herself had to pivot and make adjustments due to changes caused by the pandemic, she knows first hand what is required to maintain a level of success.
Also on the education front, this month Woods opened a co-working space for kids who are taking school virtually. This allows their parents to drop them off during the school day with a learning pod facilitator who will ensure they complete assignments. It also gives students much needed engagement with other kids, something they have been missing by not being in school. The students, from different grade levels and various schools, are fed, have learning and game stations – and other resources to make learning enjoyable.
“As a parent myself, as well as an entrepreneur, I understand how difficult it can be for parents to manage their work and also deal with the stress of digital learning with their kids,” Woods said. “In a safe, sanitized environment, we give parents a much needed break and provide students with the interaction they need.” We saw a void and we are filling it.”
For more info regarding Artportunity Knocks and Ty Woods, make sure to visit www.artportunityknocks.org and IAmTyWoods.com. For media inquiries or to schedule an interview, contact Ivan Thomas at (202) 904-4790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.