Q&A: A Mentor Drought Won’t Stop This Texas Entrepreneur From Serving Young Girls


March 20, 2024


Education, News


(SAN ANTONIO) — In 2022, Tia Thomas founded Reach to Inspire Sister Empowerment (RISE) in San Antonio, Texas. The mentorship organization is aimed towards middle and high school-aged girls, instilling in them leadership qualities and the importance of scholarly excellence. Through vision board parties, college preparation panels, painting sessions, and more, Thomas and her team encourage students to become the best versions of themselves. Despite Thomas’ success thus far as an entrepreneur, the 23-year-old has faced multiple challenges. Recently, she spoke with The Click about those challenges and what drives her to continue on her journey.  

The Click: What challenges have you faced since founding RISE? 

Thomas: Finding consistent mentors has been a challenge. I don’t have any that are consistent. I think by January or March 2023, me and my board decided we weren’t going to do the one-on-one mentoring anymore. It wasn’t going as planned. We were supposed to communicate with each other once a month or twice a month, or every two weeks just checking, and those check-ins weren’t happening. The mentees weren’t communicating back and forward, and the mentors weren’t communicating. So now, I will say our focus goes toward mentoring through programming.

How does RISE serve the specific needs of young girls in San Antonio?  

Thomas: I think they need more representation in different aspects. Like when it comes to college, when it comes to doctors, lawyers, stuff like that. I know some schools, particularly on the east side, push for going to college, but I feel like if you don’t have the right people in your corner, you kind of get left behind.

Was there a specific moment when you considered moving on from RISE?  

Thomas: Yeah, actually. Now, I feel like it’s a lot harder for me to go and connect in the community. Whereas before, I was always doing something in the community. Being able to share my events or letting girls know about the organization was easy. But now, it’s a little tougher. And for our last event, “Mapping My Future,” I actually was having a lot of trouble finding girls to be in attendance. It was very little attended, and that’s not usually how it is. 

How does your team help make the challenges less challenging? 

They provide me with support and encouragement to keep pushing. RISE is a nonprofit organization, and we thrive off of donations.  Everything we do as far as decorations, food, all of that, is donated. Or people make the food or buy the food themselves and provide it to us for the event. I would say that’s another big way that they help, because the venues aren’t free either. So they provide me with the donations to be able to do the event as a whole.

With all that’s been going on in the past couple of years, what motivates you to continue building RISE? 

I think just knowing that my events will at least have an impact on one person. Knowing that one person will go away with something, it’s better than them not having that knowledge. For example, with the event we just had, there was a senior there. And she talked about how the college panel kind of helped feel better about going to college. Then I gave her some more information at the end about federal financial aid dates and stuff like that. So she felt like that information was very, very needed. Since then, I’ve talked to her. She’s trying to figure out her major. So stuff like that kind of keeps me going. 


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