Edwina Freeman works tirelessly to provide opportunities for her “diamonds” to shine. She serves as the Director of Programs for DYMON, which stands for the Dynamic Young Minorities of Nashville. The Nashville-based nonprofit organization strives to lessen equity gaps for Nashville’s youth through afterschool programs, mentorship, and scholarships. The program currently serves four schools in the Nashville area: H.G Hill Middle School, Madison Middle School, Robert Churchwell, and Haynes Middle School.
DYMON was originally founded in 2012 by Brittany Tyler as a scholarship program. The program sought to address startling statistics that showed a need for resources between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., which is a time when youth are subjected to the most violence. The program expanded to provide a safe haven for girls, but also to combat low state literacy levels by filling the resource gap for underserved people.
“Our service is not just to focus on tutoring but to make sure our kids have the same resources as their counterparts and to provide social-emotional learning as well,” said Freeman. “Closing the gap for young minorities to have the same experiences as their white counterparts is so important to us.”
Over the last several years, DYMON has expanded over three times in size. Freeman, who joined three years ago, was the first full time employee. At the time, she was a single mother pursuing a nursing career and was connected with Tyler to explore volunteer opportunities. After meeting for coffee, the two clicked instantly and it was clear to both women that there was potential in a partnership.
“I joined one year before the pandemic,” Freeman said. “We faced a lot of challenges but working here has been one of the first experiences that I’ve had feeling seen and heard in the workplace. Every challenge we’ve faced, it’s been together.”
From then on, Tyler and Freeman worked side by side to grow the program through the pandemic into what it is today.
Freeman’s main motivation? Helping her community prosper.
“I really try to provide an oasis for our kids,” she said. “If they hit a bump in their lives, we’re here. When they go on to high school, they can call us. When they go to college, they can apply for a scholarship. If their family falls on hard times, they can apply for DYMON Cares.
Through the resources Freeman and her team provide, she believes DYMON can help the whole community. As a mother, Freeman sees the importance of this support and what a difference it can make in a family’s life. When she was a young adult, Freeman also had the support of similar programs which she said helped shape her into the woman she is today.
“Exposure is huge, there weren’t a lot of success stories around me,” Freeman said. “The program gave us homework help, mentorship, and college tours. That’s how I was exposed to college and found Tennessee State University.”
Becoming involved in DYMON allows Freeman the opportunity to provide the same experiences to other young minority women. Freeman said it’s more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s also a family that allows her to use her personal experience along with her involvement in various local organizations, boards, and chambers to better the community and shine a light on Nashville’s next generation.
“All children deserve love and all of their stories deserve to be told,” she said.
If you know of someone who is making a positive difference in our community, please let us know