Former teen mother now supports other young women who find themselves pregnant or strugglingQ&A with Tyra Moore: Nonprofit Journal Project

Founded by Tyra Moore in 2020, A Girl Like Me is a nonprofit serving Detroit by providing free baby items to young mothers ages 11–25, as well as mentoring for girls ages 11–17.

What inspired you to create A Girl Like Me?

At 14 years old, I ended up being pregnant. No one at home noticed I was pregnant. My mom was working, my grandma had dementia, so she was faced with a lot. She ended up taking me to the hospital. That's when they found out I was 36 weeks along. Two nights later, I had Samari. When we got released two days later, we couldn't even get in my grandmother's house, there were so many things [baby items] lined up from the stairs inside of the house. Seeing that, I promised myself that one day, I wanted to pay it forward.

I did have a lot of struggles, of course. I was isolated from family and friends. One day no one was at home, and I had in my head my plan to commit suicide. But I had a moment where I paused. What if Samari ended up dying too? And I just knew, you are the person I need to worry about and take care of. You don't know I'm a teen mom, you just know I'm your mom.

In addition to free baby supplies, what are some of the other services A Girl Like Me offers?

I started a mentor program in November 2020, and from there I kept adding more ideas: classes for moms, parenting classes, lunch and learns. Last year I threw the first Teen Mom Prom. We're doing it again this year, and the Detroit Pistons are sponsoring it. We also wrote a book with our partners [at the International Girls Academy] in New Jersey called Daughters of the Community that came out last March.

With the mentor program, we talk about any and everything a teen girl should know: preventing pregnancy, STDs, period care, body care, mental health, self-care, family, friends, relationships. We do vision boards, I do one-on-one sessions with the girls, I did a CPR class, and also we work on finances. We partner with Comerica, and I do a challenge where whoever saves up the most amount of money from January to December 16, I'll match them.

I've just tried to encourage them and uplift them. Anything they need to talk about, I've talked about with them because I didn't have that. To me, it's being able to keep my word. I'm living the dream of paying it forward.

A Girl Like Me is styled as a “judgment-free zone.” What are some of the judgments and struggles faced by the girls you aim to help?

Some of the girls are raped or being forced to do things that they are not wanting to do, and they wind up pregnant. Some of the girls are being punished. I had a couple of families that have young girls that were pregnant and did want to get an abortion, but either they couldn’t afford it, or their family was like, “No, you're gonna deal with this consequence of having this baby.”

Why are we judging these girls? Let's be that village. If you are not going to help them, then leave them alone. Or you can find a resource. Send them to me, or if I can't help, there are plenty of resources out here to help these girls stay in school, for clothing, formula, diapers, everything. I just feel like you shouldn't judge, because you don't know what their situation is, or it can happen to you.

Can you share a story of a girl who benefited from participating in A Girl Like Me?

One of my moms, she's not a U.S. citizen. She had her first at 16, and she had four when she came here and was pregnant. When she moved here from Florida, she didn't have anything. She was staying in a shelter. One day in November last year, she came up to me at a Thanksgiving event where we give out clothing, food, coats, and things for families. She was like, “I just want to thank you so much. All the clothes we have, shoes, and everything came from you. We haven't had to buy anything, and we have been in Michigan for a year.” She was able to get everything for her and the kids just by coming to all our giveaway events.

What are your future plans for A Girl Like Me?

To be nationwide. Also, I would like to have apartment buildings to house younger teen moms. They can work in the kitchen, they can do housekeeping, and I would like to have a daycare inside, trade classes, resume writing classes, classes where they get their GED, their high school diploma. They can leave their baby at the daycare there and work outside of the home. We would help them get on their feet so they can be prepared for the real world.

This entry is part of our Nonprofit Journal Project, an initiative inviting nonprofit leaders across Metro Detroit to contribute their thoughts via journal entries on how COVID-19, a heightened awareness of racial injustice and inequality, issues of climate change, and more are affecting their work--and how they are responding. This series is made possible with the generous support of our partners, the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Co.act Detroit.
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