A conversation with Betty Zambrano, Talent Success Specialist Corporate Services & Tyrell Snape, Program Analyst, EPICS Cloud
Betty Zambrano (BZ): Tyrell, thank you for taking the time to connect with us today. Many of your LST colleagues know about your work as a member of the EPICS Cloud team, but few of us know about your dedication to helping others achieve their educational goals. We first learned about your organization, Seeking Visions, Gaining Success, when you shared your incredible story with the Toastmasters X LST group. Can you tell us about SVGS and your journey to creating this organization?
Tyrell Snape (TS): Four years ago, a group of friends who attended Hampton University together decided to create a scholarship opportunity, the Walker Williams Wilson Memorial Scholarship, to honor three of our closest college friends who passed away. We decided to create an organization that would support young Black men attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In that way, we would honor the memory of our friends. We created an organization to focus on various resources we wished we would have had as young men navigating the university experience. Today, SVGS has awarded a total of 9 scholarships in 4 years, helping our recipients lower their dependency on student loans and having mentors to reach out to when making important educational and financial decisions.
BZ: Having those resources available can help someone’s college experience and set them on a path to Success. But building an organization from scratch is no light lift. What would you say has been the most challenging part of creating an organization?
TS: I am currently serving as President of SVGS, so right now, the biggest challenge is creating a work/life balance that allows me to be present for all my responsibilities, including my career, my family life, and my community organizing. As president, I also have the role of encouraging our other board members and volunteers to stay engaged with SVGS. We meet every Monday evening to advance organizational business and ensure the mission keeps us engaged. All the members of our governing group have professional jobs, have families, and contribute to our work, so we have a full plate!
BZ: And that’s not even taking into account everything else going on that competes for our attention span! But you and your board members stay committed. What are some of the most rewarding parts of working on SVGS initiatives?
TS: This group and I have been giving back to the community for a long time in various ways. We used to get together and host events, raise money, and donate it to different causes and organizations, so I think it has been our nature to be involved and give back. One day, we decided we were interested in raising funds and having a say in what the funds were used for and whom they benefited. This is how the SVGS idea materialized. Today, we have a fully formalized process that includes scholarship applications and interviews conducted between December and April and awarded sometime in August. Our funds go out directly as payment for classes to the school, so we know we now support our recipient’s education. As our endowment grows, we hope to increase the number of students we can help and the amount each one receives.
BZ: How can the LST family support your organization? Do you take donations? Volunteers? Spreading the word to friends and family? Looking at you, LST Colleagues!
TS: We would love to welcome anyone interested in our mission to support in various ways. Individual donations are a great help to our fundraising goals, as are opportunities to apply for corporate donations. We would love to connect with anyone who has nonprofit management experience and provide advice as we navigate our next steps. We are also beginning to engage in grant-writing, so if anyone has a background in that process, we’d love to hear it! Our long-term goal is to reach a $100K endowment. With this amount, we could expand the scholarship to include women and create more programs that focus on mentorship and outreach. We have many plans for the future and look forward to continuing this work for a long time to come.
To learn more about Seeking Visions, Gaining Success, visit https://svgsfoundation.org/, where you can also donate directly to the organization (here) and learn more about the resources SVGS offers. You can also read the stories of past recipients and updates on where they are in their educational journey. If you would like to volunteer, please email info@SVGSFoundation.org.