Agents of Change: Sydney Ealy working 'to ensure every kid reaches her goals'
Ealy founded the mentoring program TWST4Girls in 2014, bringing hope and opportunities to at-risk youth and their families.
Editor's note: Across the country, agents are giving back to their communities and their industry. Here, we shine a light on people creating positive change and inspiring others to look for ways they can make a difference as well.
Sydney Ealy, the founder and broker/owner of the Core Real Estate Firm in Houston, never got to finish college. But there she was, not long ago, bringing a group of girls on a tour of historically black colleges as part of her nonprofit mentoring program TWST4Girls.
Ealy was showing them what was possible — and what she never got to have.
"When I did go to college, I went straight to and from class, and didn't stay in a dorm," she said. "They were giving me the opportunity to see them going further than I did."
Established in 2014, TWST4Girls is a nonprofit mentoring program for at-risk girls aged 11-17. The program provides one-on-one mentoring, life skills development (such as communication skills and financial literacy), career exposure, academic help and cultural experiences.
And, to help create a solid foundation for their mentees, Ealy and her team also reach out to the adult caretakers and guardians of these girls, offering life skills, mental health support, and adult enrichment plans such as financial and estate planning, homebuying and credit repair, all at no charge.
In just eight years, some 5,300 girls — and their family members — have participated in TWST4Girls activities. Ealy received a 2021 Good Neighbor Award from the National Association of Realtors for her work with TWST4Girls, and this year, she was named a RIS Media Newsmaker.
The daughter of a nurse and an entertainer, Ealy was raised to be poised, well-spoken — and compassionate. "Every time I turned around, my parents were helping others," she said. "I just knew that I was meant to do the same."
When Ealy's parents divorced, they couldn't afford to fund her dream of modeling and acting, which she pursued after high school. "I became a kid who knew what she wanted, but it was just out of reach."
She vowed to use whatever platform she built to help girls like her by creating a safe space, fellowship, counseling and inspiration to pursue their dreams, "to ensure that every kid reaches her goals," she said.
Ealy became a real estate agent, and with other women, funded events that would launch TWST4Girls.
Her work as an agent has carried over to her work with the nonprofit. Ealy counsels the girls' parents on the homebuying process, including financing and credit repair, with the goal of them getting them under a roof of their own.
"I advocate for homeownership," Ealy said. "I advocate for children having space and having land and being free."
Ealy remembered growing up in an apartment, "stifled from playing instruments and walking around," she said. "I am on a mission to ensure that parents are in a place where they can purchase homes to be with their kids."
Ealy's work with TWST4Girls isn't just a hobby — it has changed her as a person.
"It has taught me from the beginning to take care of myself first so I can take care of others," she said, "and being healed first so I can give nothing but positivity." The mentors she recruits must also "come from a healed place."
The girls tell her stories of "hopelessness to hope, from loneliness to having a huge network."
The girls' parents, too, have had their lives changed, making new friendships and even finding new careers through networking.
Ealy stays connected with the girls who have been through her program, bringing care packages to them at college, where they do their work on computers they received from TWST4Girls.
"Just seeing we made their transition into college smooth, and that they were able to focus on their studies means so much," she said.
All of the girls who graduated from the TWST4Girls program have expressed a desire to give back to the organization that helped them get there. "They succeed, they reach their goals and come back to help," Ealy said, "and so it becomes a positive cycle.
"We feel like it's going to spread throughout the world."