Taylor Ryan founded Change Today, Change Tomorrow, Inc. (CTCT) with the help of Nannie Grace Croney and an all-female executive board. Through three pillars of food justice, education, and public health, the mission of CTCT is to appeal to the needs of the Black community through a variety of initiatives and engagement opportunities in ways that “redirect material resources directly into the hands of Black people and other marginalized folks,” she said.
Among other programs, CTCT has funded campaigns to support Black-owned grocery stores, Black artists, Black trans, and gender-nonconforming folks, protesters who've been calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, and helping to make sure young people in Louisville’s West End are remembered and cared for during the holidays.
Taylor studied computer software engineering at Mississippi State University, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in com- munication from UofL, with a certificate in Peace, Justice and Conflict Transforma- tion, and in the past three years she has earned not one, but two graduate degrees from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, a Master of Science in adult education and an M.A. in leadership stud- ies, with an emphasis on nonprofit and public agency management.
With 10 years’ experience in her field and three college degrees, Taylor knows data inside and out, as well as the impor- tance of impact-based programming for a community. As the executive director of CTCT, she knows people and how to speak to their hearts, especially when those hearts are breaking. Her own has broken wide open as she devotes her waking hours to this business she started. Social impact is a tensile-strength fabric for every community.
“In just one year we have been able to serve over 100,000 residents while rerouting millions of dollars in in-kind donations to the folks who need it the most,” Taylor said. “We offer over 20 outreach programs that span from direct service to unrestricted funding.”
The most popular food justice program is Feed the West (FTW). “It is a free grocery delivery program born out of the twin 2020 pandemics of Covid-19 and the increased awareness on anti-Black state-sanctioned and state-based violence,” Taylor said. CTCT partners with more than 20 local businesses through the Feed the West pro- gram, delivering fresh produce and other healthful groceries, as well as toiletries and other resources around the city.
“Food apartheids are a very prominent fixture in Black communities around Louisville, specifically the west end of Louisville where historically racist policies have had long-lasting effects on the resources avail- able in those areas,” she said. “We seek to address all of the barriers associated with access to healthy food and sustainable meals for all residents. Everyone deserves to have barrier-free access to quality, healthy food no matter their socioeconomic status.”
In addition to Feed the West, CTCT’s food justice pillar includes a food pantry project and community garden develop- ment. The organization also conducts virtual cooking classes and hosts a monthly pick-up program for Black-owned fresh produce, herbal tea, organic supplements, alkaline water, and cold-pressed juice. “We are always sure to add storing resources and recipes in our food giveaways to avoid food waste and ensure maximized impact.”
On East Broadway, CTCT’s Change Education Hub offers in-person and online mentoring, tutoring and classes. Workshops for youth range from coding to sci- ence to an ongoing “30 for 12” mentoring program with local Black experts who design and teach their own youth workshops. During the school year, Change Today, Change Tomorrow partners with Watch Us Grow to provide free tutoring for students in grades 1-12. In collaboration with the Louisville Free Public Library, CTCT provides free virtual literacy programming every month via the Western Library.
“Our education pillar focuses on all BIPOC youth ages 5-24,” Taylor said. “In one year’s time, we hope to be able to open a homeschool cooperative in our ideal community space.”
Public health is another pillar for CTCT, in which “we are trailblazing Black-led research by way of community assessment and focusing on Black folks’ experienc- es with our local health care system,” she said. Outside of the research itself, CTCT is committed to breaking the stigma of being tested and living with HIV/AIDS, by hosting a community event for each HIV/AIDS
“awareness day” of the year. Each event of- fers collaborative resources, free food, and testing to the public. This past year, CTCT has incorporated free COVID testing at each HIV/AIDS testing site.
The first Friday of each month, CTCT distributes period products to individuals and community organizations who need them, offering tampons, pads, pantyliners, period panties, and DivaCup products. Every other month, CTCT hosts a community baby shower that serves an average of 40 babies.
The list of offerings and programs is constant and consistent. “We offer caregivers the top three most needed items regardless of the price,” Taylor said. “We also go out to the streets each Thursday evening to serve the unhoused community at three different sites in downtown Louisville. We partner with organizations that bring Narcan, mobile showers, and quick medical assistance to unhoused individuals. We have a goal by the end of the year to house at least five people.”
Pocket Change is one of the newest ini- tiatives by Change Today, Change Tomor- row. Located at 1753 Bardstown Road, this storefront for Black-owned businesses is open 7 days a week, 2-9 p.m. The building is also a business hub with co-working space and rental space for events, and small biz classes are offered the third Thursday evening of each month. “We hope to continue to find and support new local Black businesses to put into our storefront,” Taylor said. “Supporting local black-owned businesses not only supports that business, but often a whole community is uplifted by dollars spent and support given.”
Metaphorically and literally, making change and spending change today will change tomorrow. Follow the hashtag #ChangeYourSpending and redirect shopping dollars to support local Black-owned businesses.