Entrepreneurship champion named director of BGCC career readiness program

Tory Coats, an advocate for entrepreneurs and winner of the 2018 Accelerate: Citizens Make Change competition, is the new career readiness director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland.

Coats, a graduate of Kent State University, will help Club teens prepare for possible careers in the workforce by providing pathways to college, a trade or entrepreneurship. He comes to BGCC from the Positive Education Program Connections program, where he was a case manager.

He is the founder and director of Teen Enterprise, a nonprofit that helps support young entrepreneurs.

“My ultimate goal is to get kids jobs – to put money in their pockets and show them there is a better way to live than going down a destructive path,” Coats said. “I am passionate about business and about working with young people. That is why I am so excited about this position.”

In February, Coats’ idea to help youth create popup shops in city neighborhoods was voted the winning civic pitch by the audience at Accelerate: Citizens Make Change, an annual competition presented by Citizens Bank and Cleveland Leadership Center. He received $5,000 to help bring his Dare 2 Believe Popup Shops civic vision to reality following the competition.

Coats first worked with Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland in 2009, when he volunteered at the Heights Youth Club. He has since partnered with a number of organizations, including BGCC and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, on the Teen Enterprise initiative. The program, he said, encourages teens to take positive risks and “learn business by doing business.” The latter, he said, is can be enhanced by creating marketplace events for teen entrepreneurs.

Coats said he wants Club members to know there are many ways to forge a career.

“There is no one route to success – everyone’s path is different,” he said.

Coats and his wife, Tanisha, live in Warrensville Heights. They have two sons, Breon, 19, and Tory, 12, and a daughter, Trinity, 17.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland provides safe, fun places for kids ages 6-18 after school at locations throughout the city, focusing on healthy lifestyles, academic success and character development. Each day, an average of about 1,000 kids go to the Clubs.