HCP Partner Spotlight: Deryck Toles, Founder & CEO Inspiring Minds
Inspiring Minds works to create a community and a vision for the future that believes anything is possible.
Interview with Deryck Toles, Founder & CEO Inspiring Minds
“You don’t mentor a child for a week, a month, or a year. When you truly mentor someone, you mentor them for life.” – Deryck Toles
This year, Inspiring Minds celebrated 15 years of dreaming big and transforming lives.
Since 2006, Inspiring Minds has:
Expanded to 5 communities across the country
Served over 500 students each year
Visited 80 college campuses
Explored 70 companies
Visited 70 cities in 15 states—and a Journey to Africa
That’s a lot of IMpact in a relatively short time.
But, like the tallest, towering tree, everything starts from a small seed.
Inspiring Minds started with one person with a vision, passion, and mission to grow, change, and transform. Before he was inspiring minds (and hearts) at Inspiring Minds, Deryck Toles was mentoring, listening, and encouraging a small group of young students, at the McDonald’s in the neighborhood where he grew up on the southwest side of Warren, to “believe in the power of opportunity,” and maybe most importantly, to believe in themselves.
Since those early days talking through hopes, fears, and dreams around borrowed space at McDonald’s, Inspiring Minds now has a building and space of their own, staff to help run programming, and an army of dedicated alumni and community leaders offering support all around the country.
Inspiring Minds has carefully built a foundation for their work in five pillars: Education; College & Career Readiness; Exposure to New Experiences; Health & Wellness; Personal Development. These foundational building blocks are essential for success, both short and long term.
Students connect with Inspiring Minds through After School Programming and/or the Summer Enrichment Program. Focusing on after school and over the summer is intentional strategies to combat “The Danger Zone”–
Over 30% of America’s youth are home alone during the school year from 3:00 to 6:00PM, and during the summer months for an average of 10 hours per day.
Filling the emptiness of “The Danger Zone” with activities, experiences, and opportunities supports students personal and academic development and growth. But Inspiring Minds does more than offer things for students to do; Inspiring Minds offers connections to people, places, and possibilities that will last a lifetime. Additionally, Inspiring Minds offers students opportunities to give back while investing in themselves through entrepreneurship programming and volunteer service events.
The Healthy Community Partnership is grateful to Mr. Toles and his team at Inspiring Minds for clearly showing how health, wellness, education, and opportunity are overlapping, interconnected circles and not separate silos. In addition to Mr. Toles’ sharing his time and talents on the Steering Committee, Inspiring Minds has connected the Partnership to two outstanding interns through the Summer Career Development Program: Dalonte Williamson, 2019 and Deonte “Tae” Stubbs, 2021. You can read more about Mr. Stubbs’ work in his Partner Spotlight.
Though the internships were only 9 weeks long, both Mr. Williamson and Mr. Stubbs made significant and long-lasting contributions to the Partnership by assisting with expanding and improving internal and external communications. It’s become a high point of each year to receive the opportunity to work with another brilliant young mind in this program.
True to the mission, “to engage, inspire and empower youth to reach their full potential through education and exposure to life-changing experiences,” Inspiring Minds is building momentum for a movement that continues to expand and excel at promoting education and experiential learning while keeping racial equity and Black excellence always in focus. Maintaining focus on racial equity and justice is essential to achieve meaningful long-term change and cultivate a new generation of leaders that know themselves, believe in themselves, and make what was once a dream a reality. To create a promising future for children means creating a promising future for everyone means making sure everyone sees a future for themselves and their families wherever they are.
Mr. Toles, the IM team, and most importantly IM students/alumni have achieved incredible things with plans do do more in more places with even larger outcomes and impacts–the sky isn’t even the limit. Looking ahead at the forest through the trees that have grown from the seeds that have been planted over the past fifteen years, the future is looking full of possibility, potential, and promise.
Please watch and listen to Founder and CEO Deryck Toles discuss Inspiring Minds’ mission, vision, and aspirations for their students and the communities in which they work to expose students to their fullest potentials and achieve ambitious dreams. A small photo gallery of some of Inspiring Minds recent accomplishments is included below.