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Meet Tinesia Conwright of DETOUR Empowers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tinesia Conwright.

Tinesia was born and raised in Southeastern San Diego during the 1980s and 90s at the peak of gang violence within a neighborhood facing large pockets of poverty and few opportunities for educational advancement and socio-economic mobility.

Despite the challenging environment, she found an outlet to express her love for dance through a youth group, The Steps of Praise. As a member of this group, she realized the capacity within youth to impact social change and uplift their peers and community. She discovered her self-worth and met people within her community who inspired her to become the person she is today.

Passionate about nurturing the growth of girls and developing them into our future leaders of tomorrow, Tinesia launched her nonprofit, Depositing Empowerment Through Outreach & Urban Redevelopment (DETOUR). The organization provides three youth development programs: The Focused And Naturally Confident Youth (F.A.N.C.Y.) Teen Girls Expo, Leadership Academy, and Scholarship Program which has empowered over 1,000 girls since 2009.

DETOUR teaches and mentors teen girls of color in grades 6 – 12 to be themselves by exploring their self-identity, building confidence, participating in career exploration/employment, volunteering/service-based learning and completing a college education. Tinesia contributes her time on a volunteer basis to build DETOUR to increase equity and inclusion for teen girls of color in education and employment. Imagine being born into the world as an unwanted black female.

Right from birth, the odds are stacked against you. Your mother is struggling with a drug addiction, she doesn’t know who your father is, and you are growing up in the foster care system in Southeastern San Diego. This is the background of Tinesia’s younger foster sister Tatiana, who inspired her to launch the program and officially joined when she was in the 8th grade.

Despite her challenging upbringing, she successfully graduated from high school in June 2016. Not only did she successfully graduate – she was selected from over 57,000 seniors nationwide to receive a Gates Millennium Scholarship. She is currently attending Syracuse University in New York on a full scholarship. Depositing Empowerment Through Outreach & Urban Redevelopment (DETOUR) was created to help girls like Tatiana become successful in life and believe in their dreams.

Tinesia earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from San Diego State University and a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management & Leadership from the University of San Diego. She currently serves as the Youth Workforce Development Program Manager for the San Diego Housing Commission and the Executive Director for DETOUR.

She also serves on the following boards; the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission, the San Diego Police Department Chief’s LGBT Advisory Board, the San Diego Urban League Young Professionals, and the SDSU African-American Alumni Association.

Her work has been acknowledged by the San Diego LGBT Pride Champion of Pride Award, San Diego Voice & Viewpoint Under 40 Award, the RISE San Diego -SD Women In Civil Rights Award, the Black Girlz Rock San Diego Community Change Award, the San Diego County Urban League Young Professionals Top Forty Under 40 Award, the Urban Pride Community Leadership Award, a 79th District’s Assembly-member Dr. Shirley Weber 2014 Women of the Year Award Nomination, a City of San Diego Human Relations Commission Commendation, and the Blue Heart Foundation Community Award.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Of course not! 🙂 There were many challenges along the way including launching a nonprofit organization with minimal resources. Since the beginning – I have maintained a full-time job and also completed my Master’s Degree and maintained my community involvement with other organizations. Last year, I got married, adding on another layer – my own family. Balance has been a challenge – but I have made it work!

One of the other challenges is really just wanting to be able to do more for the girls we work with. Many come from single parent households and are being raised by other family members. Our goal is to provide more scholarships and supportive services to our girls. Since 2010 we have given away over $10,000 in scholarships to date.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about DETOUR Empowers – what should we know?
Depositing Empowerment Through Outreach and Urban Redevelopment’s (DETOUR) mission is to increase access to education and employment opportunities within in-demand career fields, for girls of color through our Focused And Naturally Confident Youth (F.A.N.C.Y.) Leadership programs.

We are based in Southeastern San Diego, an area lagging behind San Diego County averages in income and workforce participation. Since 2009, DETOUR has encouraged over 1,000 girls in Southeastern San Diego to rise above these statistics, graduate from high school, and go to college.

Our program launched with Girl Talk Workshops and the FANCY Teen Girls Expo – however, throughout the years we have learned that empowerment alone is not enough. We must also prepare them to advance into career fields with strong growth and high wages. We launched our cohort model FANCY Leadership Academy – which provides leadership development, financial education, college & career preparation workshops, and volunteering opportunities.

Since 2016, 100% of our girls were accepted into 4-year universities – with over half currently studying STEAM majors. Girls like Tatiana – our Gates Millennium Scholarship winner who just finished her second year at Syracuse University majoring in forensic science. Our Leadership Academy has expanded to serving girls school sites, including Preuss UCSD, Millennial Tech Middle School, and Morse High School.

I am most proud of the girls – who maintain an average 3.0 GPA and have been selected for nationally recognized programs including Black Girls Rock, Enterprising Women, and CA Legislative Black Caucus African American Leaders for Tomorrow.

This year, our seniors received scholarships from the Jackie Robinson YMCA, the Ford Salute To Education, Lamplighters Scholarship, Dell Foundation, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., California Black Legislative Caucus, Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce. In addition, our FANCY Ambassador President Brittany Jasper was recognized by Council President Myrtle Cole as a “Walls of Excellence” recipient. Her name is engraved in the wall within our Southeastern San Diego Community.

In addition to our 100% high school graduation rate, according to our surveys, the girls involved in our programs strengthen their confidence and leadership skills. We also provide career development opportunities through internships, allowing them to gain work experience and soft skills. We strive to continue birthing girls who take on leadership roles in high school and through college.

Our organization is comprised of women born and raised in Southeastern San Diego who has become college graduates and professionals. We are now reaching back to our community and pulling our girls forward, together. That is what sets us apart.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
-My mother – Brenda Jones
-My father & stepmother – Henry & Lorietta Conwright
-My wife – Sakeenah Gallardo
-My daughter – Ayana Gallardo – for their ongoing encouragement, support, and volunteerism.
-Our Co-Founder – Janana Ransome, who assisted us with building our nonprofit infrastructure from the ground up.
-Dwayne Crenshaw, RISE San Diego – for ongoing mentoring support and technical assistance in growing DETOUR
-Coach, Susan Curtain
-Mentors, Denise E. Matthis & Dana Bryant
-Mary Skrabucha & The O’Farrell FSS Program

DETOUR Board & Staff:
• Aisha Davis
• Rosalina G. Herrera
• Joyce McBryde
• Rasheedah Rashadah
• Lawana Richmond
• Joshlyn Turner
• Janee Wilson-Key
• Tiffany Harrision
• Keyana Wilson
• Branisha Jones
• Valencia Morris

Everyone in the community who has donated, volunteered, and showed love for FANCY! Thank you!

Contact Info:

  • Address: 404 Euclid Avenue #329 San Diego, CA 92114
  • Website: www.detourempowers.org
  • Phone: (619)750-1180
  • Email: tinesia@detourempowers.org
  • Instagram: fancy_teen_girls
  • Facebook: fancyteengirlsexpo
  • Other: YouTube: FANCY Teen Girls Expo & Leadership Academy

Image Credit:
Steve Cooper

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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