Tywonn Taylor has made it his mission to help students pursue their dreams.

"Everybody has a job or a purpose in life," said Taylor. "For whatever reason, that has become my purpose."

In March of 2020, Taylor created Career and Dreams.

The non-profit organization has teamed up with North Coast Flight School, Community Access TV, and other agencies to offer apprenticeship programs for at-risk youth.

"These careers and programs come from talking to the youth and them pretty much telling us these are the things they want to do and what they are interested in." said Taylor.

Students also participate in community-based programs, such as the current mural project on the old engine house on East Lake Road.

"All of these things are built to inspire them and educate them," said Taylor. "It's to keep them motivated to not only stay here, but to bring businesses here and also get real obtainable careers that they want to do."

The program aims to prevent students like Erie High School student Dennis Robinson from getting into trouble.

"There's a lot of violence and stuff, so it's keeping me out of it," said Robinson. "It really is just helping me."

Each student involved with Career and Dreams has their own goal.

"I really want to just work on real estate firms," said Mercyhurst Prep student Travarius Ramsey. "I know that housing is a big problem even for the homeless. I just want to make sure everyone has somewhere to stay."

"I think it's very important to have a program like this because you're getting involved with other groups and activities," said Cathedral Prep student Darhyl Thomas. "It builds a lot of friendships and trust."

Taylor hopes the community will help him help the youth, by donating to Career and Dreams on Erie Gives Day.

"We need your help," said Taylor. "We really want to put an end to this, a lot of this gun violence that is going on in the city and the way we feel like we do that is we get them engaged in real activities that they really want to be a part of."

Erie Gives Day is Tuesday from 8: a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

This story is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.