Rising Stars Alize Beal and Tiffany Bender:
every girl loves
To be successful women taking control of their today’s and creating their tomorrows.”
Y.U.N.G Harlem Baaaby!
By Chey Parker
Alize Beal Tiffany Bender
Founders Alize Beal and Tiffany Bender are taking over New York through their nonprofit organization, Y.U.N.G Harlem (Youth under New Guidance). Through its programs, Y.U.N.G Harlem aims to show young people everywhere that making your dreams a reality, no matter what they may be, is possible. Beal, a Howard University alum and consultant, and Bender, a Syracuse University alum and aspiring radio and television mogul, have both learned that although it may not be easy, you can have it all! Everything Girls Love had the chance to chat with Beal and Bender to get the 411 on their big future plans for Y.U.N.G Harlem, what it was like being honored at Black Girls Rock, and the tough lessons they’ve learned through making Y.U.N.G Harlem a success. everythinggirlslove.com
EGL: What inspired you to make Y.U.N.G Harlem a reality? Alize Beal: Tiffany and I were inspired to bring Y.U.N.G Harlem to fruition after a major violent event occurred in Harlem during our freshmen year. We spent a good amount of time complaining about the negative events that was occurring to the youth of Harlem and after about a week of talking about all the changes that needed to occur we decided to become the change Harlem and the youth needed. Tiffany Bender: 2008 was home to one of Harlem’s most dangerous summer[s]. After a seemingly casual cookout, Alize and I drove down 125th street until we started seeing people running down the avenue. We later found out that evening that fourteen people were wounded and seven killed. As you can imagine we were both devastated and became determined to figure out a way to bring change to our community instead of simply complaining about it. EGL: What has been the hardest part of making and keeping Y.U.N.G Harlem a reality? Alize Beal: The hardest part of making and keeping YH a reality was developing a solid team of people that believed in our passion just as much as we did. But after we found the members that are current today it made our work a lot easier. Tiffany Bender: Keeping your team as motivated and passionate about your dream is extremely difficult. There are seven people total in YH – that’s seven ideas about what change means, seven egos, seven emotions, seven people to make sure they’re responding to your e-mails. So you aren’t allowed to have an off day when you are accountable for managing the fire in six other people. It makes it worth every headache for all of us when we meet the kids we mentor and help get into colleges.
“I don’t like to fail and before I give up, I’m going to try a little bit harder.” Alize
As far as Y.U.N.G Harlem is concerned, what are the perks and challenges that you face? Tiffany Bender: I would say the challenges are when you are trying to do good for others in the community or for yourself you’re always in the minority. Its hard gathering help and finding genuine people that are as passionate as you. We lucked up, we have a small team but they are very passionate about changing the community. That’s just the perk. I find so much joy in having team meeting[s]; we argue we fight, whatever, but we get things accomplished and that’s where the perks come in for me. And what about you Alize? Alize Beal: The most challenging part of it all is to understand we can’t help everybody. We both have very tough humanitarian thrill about us and we enjoy helping people, typically the youth, typically the minorities. Once you see one problem you want to take on everybody’s problem as your own.
Staying focused on what we’re doing and knowing that we can’t help everybody, but we will try to do it if we can. The perks of the thing is that we help each other. Many times we do events, we’re panicking seconds before and when it’s all said and done it’s a pleasure to look at Tiffany and to see how proud everyone is of each other; that we came together to accomplish our goal.” Do you ever find any road blocks in your way due to being a woman or to being young? Alize Beal: I think more of being young than it is being a woman. In the beginning we would have people looking like ‘ok what you are real-
ly trying to do.’ It hurt because it’s like you’re so passionate but you don’t want to look like the young naïve passionate student so we really had to educate ourselves on the side because we wanted to come correct and we wanted people to take us seriously. I don’t think we face anything as women yet, I know those will probably come later on but I think the hardest part is the age. For the most part, we know our stuff and we are very tight and we make sure that when we come to the table we are limiting the amount of no’s for a possible yes.
Tiffany Bender: I definitely agree. I
“Every day you realize that nobody owes you anything. No matter how much you’re giving, that’s a very hard lesson to learn every day.” Tiffany
think more so in our own individual perspective careers we face the, ‘oh you can’t do enough or you don’t know enough because you are women and because you’re young.’ Tell me more about how it was to be honored at Black Girls Rock. Alize Beal: Being honored at Black Girls Rock was one of the most humbling moments ever. It really did mean a lot to have someone recognize the work that we have done. A year ago to date I told Tiffany we would be the 2012 M.A.D girls and to have that come to life really did prove to me how important it is to speak positive affirmation into your own life and having faith in our organization and each other.
RISING STAR Tiffany Bender: I was okay with simply being nominated amongst the final list of amazing young women. However when we received the e-mail stating that we won – I don’t think I can describe that feeling in words, honestly. I remember when I found out we won, I was having one of [my] “discouraged” days – I was frustrated that I had moved home with my masters ready to conquer the world and had not a job offer in sight. Literally standing at a bus stop with my heels in hand, Alize gave me the call that I honestly believe changed the trajectory of our lives as we know it.
Tell me something about Y.U.N.G Harlem that the average “Joe” or person wouldn’t know. Tiffany Bender: First thing is we aren’t going anywhere. We’re going to be 45 and 55 worrying about having the youth under new guidance, which is what Y.U.N.G Harlem stands for. Alize Beal: Also what people don’t know is our goal, ideally, is to train young professionals coming right out of college to take accountability and responsibility for their peers underneath them. That’s the goal of Y.U.N.G Harlem. There’s a circular revolution of reaching back and making sure that people between the ages of 18 and 21 are looking out for their peers between 14 and 17. I feel like any time, we, within this age group, become so focused on our own career paths that we forget about those that are younger. Those that are younger are forced to look up to people that are 30 plus and it shouldn’t be like that. People that are young professionals can reach back and speak to high school students and elementary students and relate to them because they are so close in age. Our goal is to make sure we are training and building youth to always have this idea of I have to look back and make sure the people behind me have someone‘s hand that they can reach out to. Have you ever wanted to give up, just ran into a road block and felt like maybe this is not where it’s at or what I’m supposed to be doing? Tiffany Bender: I don’t think it was the matter of giving up; it’s just every day you realize that nobody owes you anything. No matter how much you’re giving, that’s a very hard lesson to learn every day. You’re giving and giving and giving of yourself and you still learn that no one owes you anything. So I don’t think I ever wanted to give up but there were days I emailed Ali like, I need a week from not emailing the team and not emailing sponsors and not getting no’s and I’ll come back. Alize Beal: The good thing is that Tiffany and I can look at each other and we have the same passion, that’s why we are able to move in sync with each everythinggirlslove.com
other. It is difficult when you’re trying to get your passion across to people and they’re not passionate about your cause and you have to fight to get them excited and then you have to fight to keep them excited. We just have to be blessed for a good team. I thank god every day to have someone like Tiffany working alongside me because it would be impossible to do this sometimes but we love it. What keeps you going? Tiffany Bender: I’m going to give him a shout out; Eric Thomas the hip hop preacher. I put my iPhone on the charger to charge on the iHome deck and he has a mixtape. And like a traditional rapper has a mixtape out, but it’s all his best lectures mixed with music that he talks about and literally I jump out of bed and he says; ‘Sleep! Sleep are for those that are weak!’ [chuckles]. I literally jump out of bed and it’s an array of songs for any mood you are in. You know when you’re tired, discouraged and when you’re feeling too cocky he has something for that too. I would definitely have to shout him out. Alize Beal: I would say just the pressure. I don’t like to fail and before I give up, I’m going to try a little bit harder. I don’t ever want anyone to look at us as a failure because we stopped, because we gave into our weakness. It’s said you’re destined to do things and [have] a purpose and I feel like this is our purpose and it’s like how can ‘I give up on my purpose?’ Where do you see Y.U.N.G. Harlem in the next few years whether that’s next year, the next 5 years, the next 10 years but what’s your long term vision for the brand? Alize Beal: We need to be nationwide. Our goal is to take it to young Philly, young D.C, young Chicago, young LA; putting on events in the summer, hitting different programs, different states, different cities.”
“You get one shot at this thing called life and because of that you must push through fear and discouragement to get to your goals.” Alize
RISING STAR Alize Beal: And plus a lot of our friends, I was just thinking about this tonight, one of our friends had just launched their PR agency and their having an event. Even though it’s going to be, like fun more less like networking fun, everything that we do with our friends they’re going to be working. We’re going to be working in the sense of networking so we get to go out but business is never done honestly. So it’s the holiday season, how important is it to you to give back to your community during this time? Alize Beal: For us, giving back is something that we do year round. When the holidays arrive we just push our community service efforts in turbo.
“feelings of discouragement are placed on purpose, and that everything in life is by design. You have to encounter something to make your victory that much sweeter.” Tiffany Tiffany Bender: I am most excited about conquering New York, when I say conquering I don’t mean to brand it, this is Y.U.N.G. Harlem. I mean to really accept change in our youth. I don’t think higher education should be an option. That’s what we have some of our kids thinking; that college isn’t for everybody and you don’t know unless you try, you know. I remember at one point we considered intergrating and maybe having someone who didn’t go to college to talk about going to trade school, and we said no education is the key. That’s the only way you will know. There’s no such thing as a feeling. So that for me would be important in the next year and like Ali said, expanding out across the nation. What inspires you most about your business partner? Alize Beal: Tiffany Bender inspires me more than she probably even realizes. Tiffany has such a relentless attitude and her courage to keep going, even when things do not make sense. She is not afraid to fail and she isn’t afraid to move in the opposite direction of the crowd. She is a born leader everythinggirlslove.com
Tiffany Bender: It’s great because we can increase volunteer activity – but honestly, I’m more focused on giving during the off hours, during the Mays and Junes when girls are trying to figure out how they can afford prom dresses and during August when our young boys are killing one another.
and I will always be willing to follow her!
What would you say to a girl or woman that is discouraged about following her dreams?
Tiffany Bender: Her drive. She’s such a firecracker when it comes to getting things done and introducing us into new realms of business. Outside of business, she is my sister. She holds a mirror to my best qualities and forces me to believe in myself – I need that more often than people think.
Alize Beal: You get one shot at this thing called life and because of that you must push through fear and discouragement to get to your goals. Remembering that there is no ceiling on anything you accomplish will give you the faith that the sky is the limit.
What’s the best way to balance your professional life with your personal life? Alize and Tiffany: We don’t. Tiffany Bender: Ali and I lucked up in the sense that we met young and that we became best friends and that we became business partners. The most part, our late night meetings turn into a girl’s night out but other than that we spend so much time working long and hard that neither one of us has a social life. So the nights that we spend planning and stuff turn into nights of fun for us. We’re lucky in that sense because we don’t have to worry about the gossip or loosing focus and all that stuff because we have each other so we really don’t have a social life.
Tiffany Bender: That her feelings of discouragement are placed on purpose and that everything in life is by design. You have to encounter something to make your victory that much sweeter. The first golf ball was created completely smooth. They found however that after the ball was hit a few times and got some dents – it traveled further. Needless to say, today you will not find a golf ball without a host of dents. Take some dents in life to go further. EGL: In your own words an EGL girl is what? Tiffany Bender: A girl that rocks! [laughs] I think an EGL girl is a Jane of all trades. She’s good at everything and more than trying to figure out what her passion is, she’s trying to figure out what she’s not good at because she’s good at everything.