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Meet Tricia Young of TLE Center for Urban Entrepreneurship

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tricia Young.

Tricia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
The founder and president of the TLE Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (TLECFUE). I started my non-profit after I became involved with several local non-profits to help inspire more of the city of Boston’s young adults that reside particularly in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan learn more about entrepreneurship and start businesses that improve the communities that they live in and serve. I am also founder and principal of TLE Consulting Group, where we specialize in entrepreneurial program design and training services and conduct our programs across innovation centers in the Greater Boston area.

In all honesty, I had no idea that there were so many young people living a life without promise and/or purpose and that there were so many young men in particular in these areas that are going to jail or dying from gun violence right here in Boston. I had heard about it but it didn’t resonate until I saw the actual count of young men needing career & other re-entry services posted on a triage board while on a visit to one of the more prominent youth support centers in Roxbury. It troubled me so much that I made a promise to do my own part to disrupt this vicious cycle and help these young men, in particular, learn how to create wealth for themselves via entrepreneurship.

Since 2014, we have accomplished a lot including the design, piloting, and in 2016 the full launch of our one-year business exploration and start program (BESP) stemming from a collaboration with the organization, ROCA, where we work with the young men that ROCA supports and are seriously interested in starting a business. We are almost to the end of the program with the finalists from our 1st full iteration making their debut at a pitch night event at the Cambridge Innovation Center on 1/9/18 at 6 pm. Our primary goal is to help the finalists fully build out their companies by the fall of 2018 and right after that establish a business incubator lab where all of our program participants will have access to co-working space and the specialty services needed to help them grow ventures to where they are perceptibly contributing to their local communities.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been difficult because the work involved with executing our mission fully is not as simple as it looks. I have have had to do a lot single-highhandedly to set up the required infrastructure for the successful launch and execution of our entrepreneurial program and with very limited resources. And this is only one component of the entire work plan. Because we lack the capacity to fully execute a large-scale fundraising campaign (which we are cognizant we will need), our reach and subsequently donor base and volunteer pool have been less than what we need it to be.

Additionally, access to funding (i.e. grant funding) has been a real challenge for us where we are a start-up non-profit and do not have more than 3 years of demonstrated impact in our space to effectively compete with other established non-profits who are also advocating for funding from the same sources as we are. We recognize that we will need a real community of like-minded individuals and organizations to raise the funds needed to fully launch the first set of companies and build out a supporting business incubator lab that is in line with our mission. Last year, we started a boxing fitness event series in collaboration with George Foreman’s gym franchise, EverybodyFights, ( I am a boxing and boxing fitness enthusiast) and plan to do it again in 2018 on a larger scale to continue to increase awareness about our initiative and raise funding towards our business incubator lab’s build-out and ongoing operation.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with TLE Center for Urban Entrepreneurship – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The TLE Center for Urban Entrepreneurship’s (TLECFUE) mission is to help local young people learn more about the benefits of entrepreneurship and to provide support for those with a demonstrated interest in becoming the next generation of urban entrepreneurs. In collaboration with ROCA, and several other agencies, TLECFUE offers a one-year entrepreneurial training program with access to capital for young people as young as 18 who may or may not be in school, have a job, or have a criminal record; and either have an early stage business or are interested in starting one.

As a company, we are most proud of our program participants who have not only worked tirelessly over the course of our program but also overcome so many personal obstacles to begin the journey of becoming first generation entrepreneurs. What makes us unique is our mission. We are not only effectively training our program participants to become entrepreneurs but also working to establish clusters of community-based businesses that our entrepreneurs own and are contributing to the economic viability of Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I really like that Boston is home to some of the best academic and healthcare institutions in the country. We have a reputation for being trendsetters in everything we do including coming together for the greater good.

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