The Tyler Clementi Foundation’s Innovative New Anti-Bullying Campaign

Blog author Stan Kimer (in the center) with Tyler Clementi Foundation Executive Director Sean Kosofsky and Tyler's mother and foundation co-founder Jane Clementi

Blog author Stan Kimer (in the center) with Tyler Clementi Foundation Executive Director Sean Kosofsky and Tyler’s mother and foundation co-founder Jane Clementi

For this year’s annual October Bullying Awareness Month blog, I would like to introduce a new program being offered by the Tyler Clementi Foundation and rolled out through corporations and organizations. Why is this exciting and innovative? Because most Americans spend the vast majority of their waking hours on the job, so that is the logical place to roll out resources to assist in various aspects of life.

Here are four shorts questions and answers.

QUESTION 1: Who exactly is Tyler Clementi and why is there a foundation named after him?

ANSWER: Tyler Clementi (link to more of his story) was a talented teenager in his first year of college coming to terms with being gay. Without his knowledge, Tyler’s roommate secretly livestreamed him in an intimate act with another young man, and then shared the stream with Tyler’s university peers as well as the roommate’s high school friends and Twitter followers. This act of cyber-bullying was a great embarrassment to Tyler and two days later Tyler died by suicide. After processing the grief of losing their son in this way, Tyler’s parents decided to take proactive action and started the foundation to address cyber-bullying in the hopes that it can be stopped and future harm and even deaths could be avoided.

QUESTION 2: What is my own connection with the Tyler Clementi Foundation?

ANSWER: Last year, a friend of mine from Raleigh, NC, Sean Kosofsky, who is one of the brightest non-profit leaders in the country, was offered the job of being the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s first full time executive director. He returned to Raleigh in early September and helped host a reception with Tyler’s mother Jane Clementi. (See photo at top of blog.) Sean updated us on the latest programs of the foundation and Jane spoke passionately as a mother hoping to bring positive change to America’s cyber-community as a constructive way of dealing with her son’s death. Total Engagement Consulting is proud to have provided a corporate donation to the foundation’s work.

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

QUESTION 3: What exactly is this new program that the foundation will be rolling out via corporations?

ANSWER: Too much of the burden of ending bullying is put on schools. The Tyler Clementi Foundation thinks parents play a key role, and thus has partnered with Workplace Options (WPO) to offer trainings on youth bullying to parents where they are during the day: at work. This training helps educate people about whether the young people in their lives are being bullied or are bullies, and not sharing this information. The focus will be to teach individuals how to identify, approach, discuss and resolve youth bullying issues with their children, and young people in their personal lives. More information can be found on the foundation’s program page. (Scroll about halfway down the page to the heading “Workplace Options / TCF Training

QUESTION 4: Can I provide some links to additional blogs with resources I have previously published?

ANSWER: Certainly!

In last year’s Bullying Awareness Month’s blog, I introduced the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

In my 2013 blog, I wrote about the link between schoolyard bullying and workplace harassment.

In “The Macroeconomic of Gay Bullying” I write about the grave harm to a nation’s well being and economics unaddressed bullying can result in.

My 2014 Bullying Awareness Month Blog – Introducing a Dynamic New Organization

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

At the end of the summer this year, a good and very respected friend, Sean Kosofsky, moved from Raleigh, NC to New York City to become the Executive Director of a new nonprofit, the Tyler Clementi Foundation. I just knew this would be a great organization to highlight for this year’s Bullying Awareness Month blog.

For those not familiar, here is a link to Tyler Clementi’s story.

STAN: “Sean, first can you tell me a little about the Tyler Clementi Foundation, like its mission and vision?”
SEAN: “The Tyler Clementi Foundation is a national organization committed to ending bullying, harassment and humiliation, online and offline, especially for marginalized youth. Our mission is to promote safe, inclusive and respectful social environments in homes, schools, campuses, churches and the digital world for vulnerable youth, LGBT youth and their allies. We have only been around for a few years but the Clementi family has spoken to well over 10,000 folks around the country and continue to build a strong organization and board through their committed time and energy. In the coming months we hope to expand our programs, increase our visibility and build lasting partnerships that will help us reduce bullying.”

Seans nametag
STAN: “This foundation is quite new. Who started it and why?”
SEAN: “We were incorporated in 2010 but really started to grow in the past year. The Tyler Clementi Foundation was started by the family to provide a vehicle to help stop the suffering of other youth. The Clementi family story is powerful and it captured the attention of people all over the world. Instead of just mourning the loss of their son and then retreating, they decided that something had to be done and if they could build on the public outpouring of support, they should.”

Tyler was a gifted violinist and earned in seat in Rutgers University's esteemed orchestra as a freshman.

Tyler was a gifted violinist and earned in seat in Rutgers University’s esteemed orchestra as a freshman.

STAN: “What is particularly unique about the Tyler Clementi Foundation? What work are you doing that no one really is?”
SEAN: “We want to differentiate ourselves in this sector by developing high quality programs, rooted in research that can measurably improve the lives of young people. We don’t want to create any unnecessary duplication of services. We want to fill gaps in the sector, especially on college campuses and online. We need more research on effective messaging and more tools to get into the hands of parents and people of faith on how to address bullying…even if their child is bullying.”

STAN: “What spoke to you and personally drew you to move now from North Carolina to New York to lead this work?”
SEAN: “Though it finally passed after I moved to NC, I helped author and create the foundation for the anti-bullying law in Michigan. I have been in the struggle for LGBT equality for over 20 years. The issue that drives most of my activism is my undying passion to stop people’s suffering in silence. The isolation and fear of the closet damaged me as a young person and I don’t want it to damage others. When I was given the opportunity to partner with the Clementi family to hopefully save lives and improve our national discourse…I jumped at the chance.”

Current very exciting campaign / auction with the chance to meet superstar Demi Lovato

Current very exciting campaign / auction with the chance to meet superstar Demi Lovato

STAN: “Is there anything else you want to tell the readers of this blog at this time?
SEAN: “Yes! We have a very exciting campaign / auction (link) right now to meet superstar Demi Lovato. Even a small donation helps and enters you in a chance to meet her. Also we have our Upstander Legacy Celebration (link) Nov 17 in NYC honoring Stephen Schwartz (Wicked / Pippin / Godspell) and Gautam Raghavan, formerly of the White House, for their contributions to the movement for LGBT equality and anti-bullying. “
STAN: “Thanks so much, Sean, and I am so pleased you found this position which matches both your expertise in non-profit leadership and your passion for impactful activism. I wish you and the Tyler Clementi Foundation the very best of success.”

Link to my 2013 Bullying Awareness Month Blog about the connection between “playground” and “workplace” harassment and bullying.

Link to my 2012 Bullying Awareness Month Blog which includes links to additional resources and blogs.