Get in the Game
“Team” on three! As they bring it in for a huddle, this team isn’t getting ready for the field or the court but to provide health education to DC residents. Established in 2009, Tyler Spencer holds the role of Founder and Executive Director of The Grassroot Project (www.GrassrootProject.org). After two summers in South Africa working on sports-based HIV prevention programs in DeBeers/GrassrootSoccer diamond mining communities, Spencer realized that HIV was a big problem in DC as well. He discovered that the curriculum he used in South Africa could have a big impact on both kids and college athletes in the area. At the time, 1 in 20 adult residents in DC was estimated to be living with HIV, so we saw HIV as a major priority issue. He got a group of current and former Hoyas together to start the program in several DC middle schools. And the rest is history. Since 2009, the program has spread to 6 universities and more than 60 DC middle schools, reaching more than 5,000 teenagers with comprehensive sexual health education.
Casting his membership with WE in November 2017, Tyler joined Washington Evaluators to get to know what other evaluation work was going on in DC. Since he was in the process of creating a five-year evaluation strategy for The Grassroot Project, joining a group with a plethora of expertise in evaluation and attending the 2017 Evaluation Conference only made sense. He took a lot of great ideas back to his organization.
This former varsity rower (Georgetown University) not only has his head in the game, but also in the books. In addition to his stint at Georgetown as a graduate student studying social justice and public policy, he holds a BA in International Health and Development from the University of Virginia, an MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention from Oxford University, and a PhD in Public Health from Oxford University. He has been recognized as a Rhodes Scholar, a World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper, a USA Today Academic All-American, and a recipient of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) Outstanding Commitment to Action Award. Most recently, Tyler was highlighted as a “Young Innovator in HIV Prevention” at the CDC National HIV Prevention Conference.
In his spare time, he loves playing and watching sports. His office recently installed a ping pong table, and with a bunch of former college athletes on their staff, The Grassroot Project has picked up a new competitive ping pong habit. You can often find them searching for the next big pick-up game at ping pong bars like Comet, the Big Chief, and Buffalo Billiards.
Want to find out more about this young innovator? Follow him on Instagram @TheGrassrootProject or contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. #GameOn