Tracee Perryman, PhD: The 2024 Milestones Social Services Honoree!

Tracee Perryman, PhD

By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter

In the luminous tapestry of Women’s History Month, we proudly unveil the spotlight on one exceptional individual whose dedication to social services has been nothing short of transformative – Tracee Perryman, PhD. As we approach the YWCA of Northwest Ohio’s 2024 Milestones: A Tribute to Women ceremony, we honor this distinguished woman for her unwavering commitment to championing education, dismantling barriers and fostering equitable opportunities for all.

Within the fabric of urban leadership, Tracee Perryman, affectionately known here in Toledo as Dr.P, emerges as a luminary figure, spearheading transformative change as the CEO of Center of Hope Family Services (COHFS).

Under Dr. P’s visionary stewardship, COHFS, located at 4447 Talmadge Rd, stands as a paragon of innovative programs addressing the intricate layers of societal disparities. It unveils a mosaic of services that spans education, mental wellness, job readiness, court advocacy and family support, transcending conventional approaches.

“We started Center of Hope Community Baptist Church and our Family of Services in 1997; it was my freshman year of college,” recalls Dr. P. fondly.

From the onset Center of Hope Family Services has ensured all educational programs encompass the pillars of Respect, Relationships, Real Change and RESULTS.

“Children have always gravitated to me so when I noticed during our Wednesday night Bible study that many of the kids struggled with their academics, we added tutoring for the children,” explains Perryman.

What initially began as tutoring has now flourished into their signature programs ELEVATE! and EMPOWER!

The ELEVATE! afterschool curriculum, lauded for its 97 percent success rate, is set to become a nationwide beacon of academic, social, and emotional resilience. This initiative transcends mere education; it’s a symphony of hope resonating across urban and suburban landscapes alike.

ELEVATE! is leading the way in afterschool education with a 28-week curriculum, delivered over seven to nine months, providing ready-made solutions for schools and organizations across the country, boosting social-emotional learning and academic performance for children K-3 and improving life outcomes for children and families.

“Our vision was to restore hope to our community by being a catalyst for transformation, intertwining holistic, Christ-centered ministry with the diverse complexities of contemporary life. Our work is deeply rooted in creating a lasting impact,” says Dr. P.

COHFS also has a Global Trade Mission summer program in partnership with International Strategic Management which introduces students to science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM).

“Our other signature program is called EMPOWER! FAMILY NAVIGATOR,” explains Perryman.

With this signature program, Center of Hope gives families critical support in times of challenge providing family and parenting education. “We have found that kids are ok when their parents are ok and vice versa,” she adds.

Moreover, the Navigator Program supports families impacted by the criminal justice and child welfare systems, providing vital linkages to mental health services, legal support services, ongoing family education and connection to community.

“My mother’s father was a school principal in Alabama during Jim Crow and my dad’s grandfather was also the founder of a church and was instrumental in helping people migrate from the Southern states during the Civil Rights movement here to Toledo to become established. I’ve got it honest!”

Today, Dr. P’s family legacy still mirrors a profound commitment to education as a model for societal progress. In her parents’ shared journey, Donald Perryman, PhD, and Willetta Perryman play pivotal roles as Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Program Officer respectively, embodying a dynamic fusion of familial heritage and professional excellence.

This family’s dream to effect lasting change has metamorphosed into a powerhouse institution closing the opportunity gap with robust and well-funded programs. Their sustainable growth trajectory echoes in every success story they’ve written.

Under Principal James Jones’ leadership at local Robinson Elementary, for instance, a school that grappled with academic challenges for 35 years, was transformed into a thriving public institution after implementing ELEVATE!. With a remarkable 70 percent reduction in suspension rates, the school witnessed notable improvements in both math and reading academics.

In our vast urban landscape, often individuals are treated as commodities, yet COHFS stands as a counterforce, providing tangible alternatives. The marginalized are not statistics but recipients of respect, dignity and a genuine investment in their potential. It’s a shift from exploitation to empowerment, with tangible outcomes rippling through the fabric of communities.

In an era where individuals are frequently reduced to billable transactions, COHFS stands as a beacon of change, fostering a culture of respect and dignity.

“Our core values are: Authenticity, Accountability, Advocacy and Access,” asserts Dr. P. “Every person we serve becomes an integral partner in innovation, not merely a statistic in our program.”

Now for more than 25 years, COHFS has served as the vanguard, delivering a 594 percent return on social investment – a financial alchemy that translates into tangible improvements in the lives of those often marginalized or labeled as ‘at-risk.’

Tracee Perryman has garnered numerous accolades and achievements, including the Nonprofit Innovation & Excellence Award (2018), the Ohio Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center Award for Academic Improvement in Reading and Literacy (2018), and recognition as a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Alumni.

“We have been successful because we bring results. When I began this work we predominantly worked with urban schools. Now our work has spread to Sylvania, Washington and Springfield local school districts where the populations of children are very diverse.”

It’s crucial for companies to understand the importance of embracing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion not just as a checkbox but as a fundamental pillar of organizational success.

COHFS exemplifies the power of intentional programs that address closing gaps and uplifting marginalized communities, demonstrating that diversity isn’t just a buzzword but a catalyst for positive change.

Amidst this landscape, the narrative has shifted. Black individuals are no longer seeking mere set-asides; they aspire for enduring equity and access. In this new age, the call for justice cannot be deterred. Right is right, and the struggle for equity isn’t a “black” or “marginalized” issue – it’s everyone’s issue. Black History is not a separate entity; it is woven into the fabric of American History.

“I am optimistic about future data on the post-secondary educational outcomes of the children we’ve served. We are hopeful by the nation’s commitment to stand firmly behind DE&I, ensuring a brighter and more inclusive future,” shares Dr. P.

Tangible improvements go beyond mere numbers on a balance sheet; they manifest in the smiles of children who now believe in their academic prowess, the confidence of individuals securing employment as adults, and the resilience of families navigating life’s challenges with newfound strength. These transformative changes underscore the profound impact of a dedicated educator on a mission.

In honoring Tracee Perryman’s YWCA Milestones honor for Social Service, we acknowledge not just an individual but an architect of change. Her remarkable ability to seamlessly blend fiscal acumen with an unwavering commitment to social justice sets her apart as a phenomenal woman!

THANK YOU Dr. P for saving our kids and our families. Her narrative resonates as one of hope, beautifully etched in the hearts of all those she have touched. She is an inspiration and testament to the transformative power of dedicated leaders.

The YWCA 29th Annual Milestones: A Tribute to Women Awards will be held at the Glass City Center on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Follow Dr. Perryman’s work @