Staff Spotlight: Tyjohn "Tj" Sykes, Youth Justice Assistant


As RYSE’s Youth Justice Assistant, Tj works with young people to develop success plans and complete community service hours. Tj also hosts Young Men’s Group every Thursday at RYSE at 5 PM, to build relationships between young men through storytelling, healthy conversation, and activities to discuss the issues that impact their lives

Want to learn more about doing community service at RYSE or participating in Young Men’s Group? Contact Tj at Tj[at]rysecenter[dot]org.

Congratulations to Tj on the release of his first book Section 8, a collaboration featuring Tj’s poetry and artwork by RYSE Visual Arts Assistant, Webster Quoc Nguyen!

Learn more about the book release event on February 16th, 2019

Name and Title: Tyjohn “Tj” Sykes, Youth Justice Assistant

How long have you worked at RYSE?

I’ve worked at RYSE for more than three years.

How did you first hear about RYSE and why did you choose to get involved?

I heard about RYSE as a youth, but I was a young person that had slipped through the cracks. I didn’t come back for a while until in May 2015 when I was already 22 years old. I was working on a play with R.A.W Talent. I was too old to be in the space after wrapping up the play, when a position at RYSE opened up. I applied of course, because I didn’t want to leave.

RYSE was a dope creative space, somewhere I could stay busy and out of the streets. After two interviews, one with a Director, the second with staff and youth, I was offered the job.

As the Youth Justice Program Assistant, what do you do?

I specifically work with young people who are on probation to develop and complete a success plan for their community service work. They work on specific and new activities that keep them busy and away from the system. I also facilitate RYSE’s Young Men’s Group. We cover subjects in our workshops such as building brotherhood, mapping out goals for our lives, holding each other accountable, and discussing the fears we have as as young men and how we can overcome them.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I am working with young people that grew up in the same city as me. I love that I can make a mistake and still be held with love.

If you had to describe RYSE in three words, what would they be and why?

  • Safe, it’s one place I always feel emotionally safe.

  • Unique, RYSE is one of a kind.

  • Magical, we make magic happen. (Enchanted Forest- Bob Ross voice)

Tell me something that happened in the RYSE community that resonated with you recently.

RYSE’s 10 year anniversary had so much love in and outside the building. It was dope to know that I am more than 3 years deep in a 10 year legacy and still we RYSE.

What’s a fun fact that the other staff and youth members don’t know about you?

I have a twin cousin who I share the same birthdate with on June 5th, but we’re 4 years apart in age.