“Radio was a childhood fantasy for me,” Austine Okorodudu says. “My father’s transistor radio set always sparked my curiosity.”
Austine, a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow, on-air personality at Trend 100.9 FM and founder of the Ideals and Realities Youth Empowerment Foundation, is working today to provide vulnerable youth with the mentorship, life skills and vocational training they need to plan for the future.
“Each year I mentor at least 30 at-risk young adults to prepare them for life after secondary school,” Austine says. “I chose the radio as my platform because it allows me to amplify my voice, reach more people and provide guidance.”
“I want to see a productive and prosperous Africa,” Austine says. “And that starts with the youth.”
Austine’s interest in mentorship and education stems from his early years watching disadvantaged peers struggle to get by, some dropping out of school and missing out on economic opportunities.
“I dreamt of a better world for youth,” Austine says.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Austine has begun sharing safety tips with listeners and challenging misinformation. In this, Austine found particularly helpful the YALI Network Video Vignette Series, “Stop.” “Reflect.” “Verify.”
Like many of his peers, Austine faced various funding challenges in establishing his foundation.
“I didn’t have prior experience running a nonprofit. I assumed that grants would come and things would fall into place. Not finding that funding became a huge setback,” Austine says.
“I decided to go back to the drawing board. I volunteered at the Save the Youth Empowerment Foundation and, over the course of my training, learned new, relevant skills. I went on to form a team and became newly committed to my personal development.”
For Austine, it was his interest in seeing others flourish that inspired his work, but a dedication to his craft that saw him through.
“No one ever started with everything figured out. You start because you believe in your dreams,” Austine says. “When challenges come, don’t throw in the towel. Stay focused on the outcome because your voice, your effort, matters.”
Austine’s voice has surely made a difference in his community and in the lives of his peers.
“Be congruent in your words and actions,” Austine says. “Integrity matters.”
Interested in Austine’s work? Learn how you can build your financial literacy skills on our YALIEntrepreneurs page.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the Network or the U.S. government.