Tyler Chavez has long-time connections to Change Inc. programs. He grew up in the West Side neighborhood of St. Paul and his older brothers and friends attended GAP School. After earning his undergraduate degree in audio production, Tyler came back to the West Side and has spent over 14 years working with youth and young adults. His experience working with youth made him a great fit for our Crossroads program. Tyler joined Change Inc. in September and is now a Navigator at Washington High School.
Tyler’s career began by working at Humboldt High School when he joined the girls' basketball program as a volunteer in 2010. Over the next four years, he dedicated himself to the program, ultimately becoming the Varsity girls' basketball coach in 2014. Tyler became a paraprofessional at the school in 2018; this past year, Tyler transitioned to coaching boys' basketball at Humboldt, a longtime goal of his.
It was through a friend, Dimitri Herndon, that he found his way to our organization. Though Tyler says, "We're more like brothers, me and Meech." From young boys, the two grew up together because their parents were good friends. Dimitri even took over the Varsity girls' basketball coach position at Humboldt when Tyler moved to the boys' team.
Dimitri, who has been working with Change Inc. for over a year, recognized Tyler's potential and encouraged him to apply for a position. Although Tyler initially applied last year and narrowly missed out on the opportunity, the team at Change Inc. saw he was a great fit and kept him in mind for future openings. In March, Dimitri reached out again, informing Tyler of a new job opening at Chang Inc. Tyler reapplied, and after a successful interview was welcomed on to the Change Inc. Crossroads team.
He now works at Washington High School, specializing in credit recovery and helping students regain their academic footing. When he started, Tyler and his supervisor, Richard Garland, visited a few other schools. Rich was surprised to see both students and staff already coming up to Tyler, saying, "Hey, Coach." Because Tyler has been a part of the St. Paul Public Schools community for so many years, he was a familiar and trusted face in the halls.
Since starting his role at Washington High School, Tyler sees the kids coming in and feels them gravitating towards him. “They're really enjoying what I'm doing and how I help them, and I appreciate them too. I encourage students to get their credits done as soon as possible and to focus on earning the credits in front of them right now, not focusing on what's behind them," says Tyler.
In addition to his role with Change Inc. and his dedication to coaching at Humboldt High School, Tyler also holds a position as an overnight supervisor at Aspen House, a youth shelter managed by Nexus Family Healing in Mendota Heights. At Aspen House, Tyler works with youth who are transitioning from various challenging situations, including juvenile detention centers, troubled family environments, foster care, or unsuccessful treatment programs. He helps guide them towards new placements, reunification with their families, or alternative guardianship. Tyler finds this work to be incredibly rewarding, much like coaching basketball. He takes pride in impacting these young lives, helping them find their way to build a brighter future.
Both his coaching and mentoring efforts have lasting impacts, with former players and students reaching out to Tyler to express their gratitude. Some have credited Tyler with introducing basketball into their lives, which helped them become the individuals they are today. Tyler will receive phone calls from young people he's worked with at the shelter; they call him, sometimes late at night, to talk to him and thank him. Whether through sports or his work at Aspen House, Tyler's commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people is evident.
Everything came full circle for Tyler when he began the job with Change Inc. and met with Executive Director, Jody Nelson. Jody had worked at GAP School when Tyler's older brothers attended. "It was good to talk to Jody and to know she's the one running the entire organization. She knows a little bit about my family background. So, for her to see the person I am now, knowing my brothers, who made some bad decisions, she said, 'Wow, you're a whole different person,' which I appreciated.”
Tyler worked hard to change the path for his family growing up and led his seven younger sisters on a path to doing well in school and making good choices. Tyler's family is a significant part of his life. He is the father of three wonderful children. After being a father figure to many of his basketball players and mentees at the shelter, his dedication to being the best father to his children certainly stems from these experiences and the values he holds.
Tyler's passion, experience, and commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people and his dedication to his family make him an incredible addition to the Change Inc. Team. As he continues to make a positive impact on the youth he works with, both within and outside of his Navigator role, Change Inc. looks forward to the lasting change he will bring to the community.