By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter
TightenUp419 hosted a leadership outreach on Saturday, November 18 at Ternion Training and Education Center on Hill Ave. The nonprofit hosted the event to reach out to local community leaders to support at-risk youth that are significantly impacted by gang and gun violence.
Antione Rayford and Courtney Nunn, two Toledo natives, formerly spent time incarcerated together. “I went into to prison at 17 and [he] went to prison shortly after… we met in prison after being taken off the Toledo streets,” said Rayford.” We founded an organization in [prison] targeted at gangs. We were able to bring violence down in North Central Correctional Institution by forming a program…so when we got home, we wanted to keep it going. So that’s what we’re doing.”
The organization, TightenUp419 was officially founded this year as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The mission is to reach at-risk youth and positively impact their perspective on life through a mentorship and leadership program. The organization’s vision is to eradicate gun and gang violence by bringing at-risk youth together, getting them to embrace peace, and stand in solidarity.
“Out here, we figure if we reach the leaders of the community, guys with influence over these young guys, If we reach them we can have them reach one of these young guys that are at risk… and get them to think and [do] different. We want [the youth] to be surrounded with positivity from the same guys who influenced them before but on a good level,” said Rayford.
Rayford is an HVAC instructor at TTEC and Nunn now has a successful job in the trades in Columbus, OH where he makes a six-figure salary. The two ultimately would like to teach at-risk youth trades to ensure that they have a better future.
TightenUp419 will include training for leadership as well as mentorship for youth throughout the year. Speakers for this event included Donna Malone, spokesperson for Toledo Moms Demand Action; Sharon Henley, spokesperson for Sisters 4 Unity; first keynote speaker Toriono Henry, second keynote speaker DeAndre Gaston and an introduction of DJ Flex Production. Refreshments were provided.