Having spent most of his mission in inner-city ghettos, Tyler saw firsthand the trials of youth in that area. “They did not realize they could think beyond what parents and teachers told them was possible,” he said. “They did not know they could aspire to something great.”
This hurt Tyler. “Their self-esteem was less than stellar, practically non-existent,” he said. “They didn’t have good examples to follow. Nothing gave the youth hope of a better life, even if they were told they could be whatever they wanted. These kids were stuck without a proper guide.”
With this in mind, immediately after his mission Tyler created TOEL (Teaching, Ownership, Education, and Leadership). The acronym also affectionately stands for Tree of Eternal Life. The non-profit organization sends role models into schools to help teens seeking an alternative learning method. The concept is simple: don’t just tell teens they are great, show them how they can be great.
During the sessions, teens are taught to build on their strengths. They also learn how what others see as negatives—such as talking too much in class—can be channeled into a positive career, such as being a news anchor.
As Tyler continued planning, he soon realized how massive this project could become. While initially he hoped to take things slow and steady, he soon learned that the Lord had a different plan in mind. Nine weeks after returning from his mission, Tyler launched his TOEL idea. He began working in a small high school founded specifically for troubled teens by one of his high school teachers.
Realizing the importance of more education, Tyler searched for a college where he could get a quick degree and form the right connections to build a team. “It was no longer just about me,” said Tyler. “The lives of others were on the line.”
Tyler discovered that LDS Business College offered a degree in entrepreneurship. Coupled with the LeGrand Richards Service Scholarship for returned missionaries, LDSBC became the obvious choice. While at the college, Tyler has not only built his team, but with the Lord’s guidance and good classmates, he has also built business partnerships.
“What I’ve learned the past few weeks is to just trust in God,” said Tyler. “Our Heavenly Father is all-loving, and when our desires are good, why wouldn’t He help? That doesn’t mean you won’t struggle—that’s part of the help He gives us, the learning process. God wants us to succeed more than we do, and it will happen when the timing is right.”
For now, Tyler is focused on how best to build a resource that can give youth a brighter future. He wants them to aspire, to branch out and believe in themselves. He hopes to one day see his project help teens not just in the United States but across the world.