About Us

The Tyler Clementi Foundation was founded by the Clementi family to prevent bullying through inclusion and the assertion of dignity and acceptance as a way to honor the memory of Tyler: a son, a brother, and a friend.

In 2010, Tyler’s death became a global news story, highlighting the impact and consequences of bullying, while sparking dialogue amongst parents, teachers, and students across the country. His story also linked broader issues impacting youth and families, such as LGBT inequality, safety in schools, youth in crisis, higher education support systems, and cyberbullying.

In 2011, The Tyler Clementi Foundation was born out of the urgent need to address these bullying challenges facing vulnerable populations, especially LGBT communities and other victims of hostile social environments.

Not only do we continue to carry the important message about the suicide risk facing many LGBT youth, who can be three to seven times more at risk for suicide than other youth, but also our message of standing up to bullying speaks universally across all cultures and identities.

Through programs such as #Day1, which provides free downloadable toolkits customized for different communities, the foundation encourages leadership to create safe spaces where individuals move from being bystanders to Upstanders who embrace diversity.

 

Founders Vision

We began the Tyler Clementi Foundation to honor our son, Tyler Clementi, sharing his story to help raise awareness around the issues that impacted Tyler, and finding actions and solutions to those issues based on research, because we wanted to make sure that no one else ever suffered the same pain, shame, and humiliation that Tyler experienced. 

Tyler was a Rutgers University student who died by suicide on September 22, 2010, after a cyberbullying incident where his roommate live-streamed Tyler in a sexual encounter with another man, just weeks after he moved into his freshman dorm.  Being attacked during this already stressful time of transition and increased vulnerability, away from familiar surroundings, known resources, friends and family was more than Tyler could endure.   

Tyler’s story made many headlines and attracted much media attention, which then started many conversations… in schools among teachers and students; at workplaces among parents and members of the LGBTQ+ community; in homes around kitchen tables; and even among federal legislators who created a bill called the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which was first introduced in Congress in 2011.  

Jane and Joe saw the power in these headlines and conversations and decided to use Tyler’s experiences to help others who were experiencing bullying challenges; especially those like Tyler who are targeted because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, which makes youth more vulnerable than their peers. 

By sharing Tyler’s story, the family hoped that people would learn the important message that they are not alone, there are resources available to help them navigate through difficult situations, as well as where and how to find and access their resources so that they would not make the same terrible choice Tyler made, because no one should ever make a permanent decision to a temporary situation as Tyler did.  Suicide should never be an option. 

Initially, our goal was to promote safe, inclusive, and respectful social environments in homes, schools, college campuses, faith communities, and the digital world for vulnerable youth, especially youth like Tyler who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, through:

  1. Collaborative academic partnerships
  2. Educational research and polling
  3. Legislative advocacy
  4. Awareness programming through public dialogues and media campaigns

From the beginning:

  • We never wanted to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, but rather add our voice to give hope to those struggling in bullying situations and with thoughts of suicide.
  • We decided to focus our efforts on bullying and cyberbullying in 2012 because few other national organizations were addressing these issues.  We saw the increase in incidents of bullying behavior, online and offline, to be a public health crisis that needed to be addressed and prevented.  
  • We saw the need to have healthy open conversations on difficult topics including mental health issues like bullying, depression, and suicide.  Knowing that having these conversations do not increase the prevalence of these mental health issues but rather these conversations help to reduce the shame and stigma, which will break down the barriers so people can find the resources and get the help they need.  
  • Our vision was for a world that embraces all members of society with human dignity and unconditional love regardless of sexual orientation or differences, real or perceived. 
  • Our focus was always on turning difficult situations into positive outcomes.  Understanding that we are unable to control so much of what happens to and around us, but the one thing we do have control over is our response to these difficult situations.  That is why we focus on sharing positive action steps and solutions that can be taken to end aggressive behaviors and promote a culture shift to one of kindness, respect, and compassion.  Working always to make the world a better place than how we found it, especially better than how Tyler found it. 
  • We always believed in the ability to change…. People can change or modify their harsh cruel behavior.
  • Words have great power and should always be used for good.
  • We learned from Tyler’s situation that there are 3 components to most bullying situations…. the aggressor… the target… and the bystander.  Many people saw what was happening to Tyler and no one spoke up, to our knowledge.  This is why we are so passionate to turn passive bystanders into active Upstanders.  An Upstander is a person who will intervene safely by either interrupting or reporting a situation and most importantly will reach out to the target, to listen, assist and encourage as needed.  
  • In 2015 we initiated our #Day1 program, which is an innovative campaign rooted in research to help prevent bullying before it starts.  It is always more optimal to prevent an injury than to work to heal the pain and trauma afterward. 
  • Our work in faith communities has always been intrical to our efforts because when individuals or groups use religious dogma to demean or harass people, to exclude them, to make them feel broken, sinful or bad about themselves, or to harm them in any other way, that is a form of bullying behavior.    
  • Yellow was always an important color for us as it is a visual reminder to live by the Golden Rule ….. “Do to others as you would have them do to you”.  Something Tyler, unfortunately, did not experience but something we hope will be part of everyone else’s life journey.  

In 2015 the Tyler Clementi Foundation adopted the mission statement:  To end all online and offline bullying; in schools, workplaces, and faith communities. 

It is the desire of the Clementi family, Jane, Joseph, Brian, and James Clementi, for the Tyler Clementi Foundation to survive us.  Our hope is for the Tyler Clementi Foundation to remain true to our dreams while still remaining relevant and impactful in its work to end online and offline bullying

We proudly support diversity and inclusion. Read our full Diversity Statement here.

 

Want to know more about our identity and logo? Watch the video below or learn more here.

TCF is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse or oppose any political party or candidate.

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