S.T.R.I.V.E. (Strengthening Tomorrow Requires Initiative & Vision Everyday) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Our mission is to unify and strengthen our communities by facilitating and fostering connections that equip and empower stakeholders, especially our youth, to make positive personal, professional, and societal impact.

Like many communities across the nation and the globe, many of the challenges experienced in Pottstown can be traced back to the lack of community connection. In Spring 2019, STRIVE hosted a series of community-wide meetings where residents expressed the lack of connection as a contributing factor to challenges faced in our community.

The ill-effects of disconnection are evident in the deterioration of neighborhoods, increased crime rates, increased family dysfunction, the lack of living-wage jobs, limitations to the social determinants of health, and most profoundly in the struggles of our educational system.

The disconnection between neighbors, teachers and students, adult community members, and the next generation, only serves to perpetuate a downward spiral in our community. Luckily, research indicates that a positive relationship with another person has the power to reverse the negative impacts of disconnection. By getting to know your neighbor or mentoring a young person, YOU have the power to change the dynamics of your town.

We believe that each person has the power to make a difference in our community—and we strive one day at a time, one person at a time to mentor one another to become a more connected Pottstown!

Where S.T.R.I.V.E. Began

STRIVE Initiative | Dave & Anthony - Founders

S.T.R.I.V.E. Founders:
David Charles & Anthony Lyon

For co-founders David Charles and Anthony Lyon, disconnection had the potential to limit their future success. Fortunately, mentorship offered a pathway to connection that enabled both to progress in positive ways.
Having lived in Pottstown his whole life, Anthony Lyon, used education as a way to expand his mind when he enrolled at Pennsylvania State University. While at university, he was exposed to numerous resources on campus that led him to think back to his hometown. Anthony recognized that many of the youth from his community had little to no knowledge about the career opportunities and options that can be offered by such institutions and he wanted to do something.

He and a few other students incorporated STRIVE, an organization whose mission was to help underserved youth nurture their true potential through guidance and mentorship. After earning his BS in Business Management, Anthony returned to his hometown to follow his passion of helping to uplift his community. When he returned to Pottstown, Anthony connected with David Charles, to create The STRIVE Initiative Inc.

Having traveled the world pursuing music, David Charles also felt called to return to his hometown. As a young person, neighbors, mentors, and friends stepped in to replace the love David should have received at home. These individuals encouraged David when he needed it most. They challenged him when he didn’t even realize he needed to grow, and they pushed him to learn from his mistakes in order to press on.

In the darkest hours, a spiritual shepherd mentored his soul. Offering comfort, guiding him through struggles, and reinforcing that no matter what, David was deserving of love and created for greatness.

Through these relationships, David was able to develop the skills, heart, and ability to tackle life’s harshest challenges. David understands the plight of the young man who has a hard time believing that making better choices equates to a better life. The understanding and dream he had then and stay’s steadfast to today, is the motivation behind the creation of The S.T.R.I.V.E. Initiative

The long-term commitment of S.T.R.I.V.E., under the direction of David and Anthony, work to support community revitalization through meaningful relationships, community voice and personal development of our precious youth. It is crucial that our youth have the proper resources and motivation to become future leaders.

Making A Difference

Since its inception, S.T.R.I.V.E. has collaborated with local nonprofits to enhance the impact of mentorship on the lives of young people through music. We believe that community connection is accomplished when we feel comfortable and encouraged to share our individual stories. From there, we can then begin to craft a collective narrative.

These collaborative efforts began in the summer of 2015, alongside Art-fusion 19464, Mosaic Community Land Trust, and Olivet Boys & Girls Club with enlivened music programming for elementary-aged youth through Music in the Garden.

In fall 2015, S.T.R.I.V.E. teamed up with The JT Dorsey Foundation’s Soccer for Success program. This resulted in Go for the Goal, a music video spotlighting local youth and focused on a musical rendering of teamwork, leadership and self-confidence building.

Today, S.T.R.I.V.E.’s innovative youth programs have matured from episodic to long-term collaborative initiatives with nonprofit organizations and the Pottstown School District.

“When young people are connected to caring adults, communities do well.”
— Mark Edwards, Executive Director, Opportunity Nation

Additional programs like Message in the Music and My Voice encouraged youth to develop self-confidence and become more expressive through the creative endeavors in music and videography. At the close of each program, young people had the opportunity to showcase their hard work to family and friends through video release parties and/or local film festivals.

Created For Greatness

Today, S.T.R.I.V.E.’s innovative youth programs have matured from episodic to long-term collaborative initiatives with nonprofit organizations and the Pottstown School District.

In 2018, the founders responded to saddening news of increased behavioral issues at Pottstown Middle School by starting the community-based mentorship program, Created for Greatness. In its first year, Created for Greatness engaged a handful of community adults who visited the Middle School lunchroom to befriend young students.

In year two, Created for Greatness began pairing adult mentors with a middle school student to forge more meaningful, intergenerational connections. Today, nearly thirty cross-generational friendships have been built.

Looking Ahead

In 2020/2021, we anticipate the number of mentorship connections to increase even more! S.T.R.I.V.E.’s focus on community collaboration has only enhanced our ability to connect people across generations, socio-economic barriers and sectors to build stronger, more connected Pottstown!

“Virtually every aspect of human development is fundamentally shaped by interpersonal relationships. So it stands to reason that when close and caring relationships are placed at the center of a youth intervention, as is the case in mentoring programs, the conditions for healthy development are ripe.”
—Dr . Jean Rhodes, Director, MENTOR/University of Massachusetts Boston Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring

The goal is to designate a full time Created for Greatness Program Coordinator who will be dedicated to recruit more diverse, community mentors as well as even more students to be matched with a mentor. This coordinator will help to structure Created for Greatness to yield more impact on community connection and work with School District staff and administration to evaluate the short-term and long-term impacts of the program on both students, family, mentors and school staff.

S.T.R.I.V.E. We Need Your Support!

There are many ways that YOU can help make Pottstown a more connected community:

  • Be a mentor to a young person
  • Make a donation to support STRIVE’s work
  • Volunteer to connect with our community in new ways