About Us

We offer our services to youth ages 13-22 free of charge. Our mentors invest in adolescent and young adult leadership through the implementation of youth-led community events. We provide youth with encouragement and support toward accomplishing self-driven goals, enhancing life-skills and guidance through life’s journey.

Our Mission

To empower underserved youth and contribute to health and well-being by providing mentoring, strength-based advising and community-based instruction (CBI) in effort to strengthen ties to families and communities.

Our Vision

A world where youth can thrive in an environment where they feel supported, encouraged and most importantly “free” of all blocking barriers. For individuals to achieve their fullest potential, they must escape whatever cage is hindering them.

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AJA KRYS ELLINGTON, BSW

FOUNDER & CEO

Aja K. Ellington is a Saint Louis native and Indiana resident. She obtained a B.A. in Social Work from Indiana University, and is in the final stages of receiving her Master of Social Work M.S.W.  with a focus in mental health and addictions. Aja is the proud Founder and Chief Executive Director of Free Your Wings Youth Mentoring, Incorporated (FYW)a community-driven a certified 501(C) (3) non-profit organization. Her organization strives to break psychological & societal barriers restricting the success and growth of young people living in poverty. FYWs empowers underserved families and youth through continuous support services encompassing strength-based programming, mental health & wellness initiatives, youth-led community organizing, and mentoring. An active member in her community, Aja along with her twin children, Co-founders of FYWs organization, volunteer and implement projects to empower youth, young adults and communities.

Aja is a Human Rights Investigator, Family Development Specialist, Music Artist, Empowerment Speaker and Community Activist. Growing up in poverty with her father and many siblings, she learned to overcome obstacles at an early age which inspired her to break generational cycles. Having survived challenging times, she understands the struggles that impact the less fortunate. Motivated and inspired to break generational cycles, Aja strives to educate and empower others and address the root cause of issues plaguing communities as well as the intersecting issues that encompass the problem. Aja has worked with underserved youth and young adults for nearly a decade and continues to assist with youth initiatives on a national level in partner with her organization.

As an Investigator, Aja administers and enforces anti-discrimination legislation and conducts educational presentations on the Americans with Disabilities Act, discrimination in employment, education, public accommodation, sexual harassment and housing. Aja advocates for homeless youth as an Alumni committee member on the National Youth Advisory Counsel (NYAC) and is a partner to the National Network for Youth (NN4Y). She assists the organization with educating policy makers to identify barriers and solutions to youth homelessness. The organization has made significant strides in changing federal policy on the issue of youth homelessness. Through this work, she was invited to assist Chapin Hall’s Voices of Youth Count national policy research initiative designed to link evidence and action by capturing the experiences of runaway and homeless youth.

Wearing many hats, Aja is a contributing author to Love Letters to My Girls, a book and movement to inspire, uplift, motivate and empower black women and girls worldwide. She is also an advisory board member for Futures Without Violence, a new research initiative designed to understand better how economic abuse impacts teens’ education, employment, and finances.  Through her personal affiliations with The National Society of Leadership and Success, Sigma Gamma Rho, Incorporated, South Bend Rotary Club and Journey Fellowship, she plans to continue to develop her leadership abilities and serve communities along with other passionate leaders.

 

Aja’s children Tinayja and Valentino Summers are active participants of Free Your Wings. They assist with programming, the implementation of community events and the overall foundation of the organization, providing kids the opportunity to experience the joys of youth functions while setting positive examples for their peers. 

CO-FOUNDER TWINS

JeffoNIA JONES, VERONICA MCCRAY

BENJAMIN SALDANA, christine delafuente, laquesha williams

Meet our Audacious Mentors