Creating New Opportunities for Girls

Photo courtesy of Opportunity Nation.
Breannah Alexander speaking at the 2015 Opportunity Nation Summit in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Nation.

A month ago I was extended the privilege of attending the 2015 Opportunity Nation Summit in Washington, D.C.  Opportunity Nation is a bipartisan, national campaign comprised of more than 300 businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits and civic organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in America.  More specifically the work focuses on increasing the upward economic mobility of young people in the United States through highlighting key policy areas that directly affect their outcomes.  Needless to say, this was a national movement that our organization had to be involved in.

During the summit we had the opportunity to discuss ways in which our organizations could collaborate with nonprofits and for profits alike to create sustainable solutions that provided one of our most vulnerable populations, young people, with the tools to be successful long term.  The idea of both redefining the American Dream and creating conditions in which your zip code did not define your trajectory or the circumstances of your upbringing limit your ability to lead was a theme that resonated with us all.  It is truly an incredible thing to be surrounded by individuals with shared interests who have varying approaches to accomplishing similar goals.

I have been apart of the campaign since in launched back in 2011, prior to the creation of women reVamped, and a lot has changed between now and then.  As a coalition we have narrowed down our audience, we have identified key policy areas, like the reauthorization of the Career and Technical Education Act and we have established a national network of leaders who can act as resources to one another.  Across the board we know that addressing issues of upward mobility for young people means investing in a diverse stream of solutions.  Addressing issues of accessibility and inclusion means being open to testing new strategies, sharing best practices and simply put, taking risks.  As best said by investment bankers, sometimes higher risks yield higher returns; a philosophy that we should not be so hesitant to apply in the programmatic solutions we test to address pressing social needs.

Wage Gap MapAt women reVamped, we know one thing to be true: the health of our economy starts with ensuring individuals are empowered to reach their full potential.  How we empower individuals in our communities will vary, and in our case, more specifically how we empower women and girls.  History has shown us that women have not always been provided the same experiential learning opportunities as men.  We know that, to this day, women still make 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man.  Ensuring the economic mobility of women also means addressing the barriers women face in approaching career decisions.  Often what is deemed accessible, professionally, by women is reflective of their socialization as girls.  Pay disparities between women and men are also inflated by the fact that the highest paying professions have the lowest representation of women.  Simply put, if higher paying jobs are not accessible to women then we cannot discuss the economic mobility of women without discussing the creation of opportunities that introduce them to these fields.

In response to Opportunity Nation’s Call to Action #WeGotThis, we are excited to announce the creation of a paid internship opportunity with women reVamped specifically for girls between the ages of 15-18 years old.  Through this internship experience high school aged girls will be provided training and real time experience working within an organization.  It is our hope through developing intentional programming we can craft an experience that empowers our interns to discover more about their career interests and various opportunities while also discovering more about themselves and their individual motivations.  We will pilot this program in Grand Rapids, Michigan beginning in July 2015 and applications for the internship program will be released in May 2015.  While this commitment is small, we hope that this will be the start of a larger dialogue on solutions for-profit and nonprofit organizations can create to ensure women achieve greater economic success.

We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to girls, learn from our interns and share our experiences with you.  If you are interested in getting involved with women reVamped, contact us, we are always looking for volunteers and community members who can donate their time to support our work.  Also, if you are interested in ways you can make a commitment to empower girls, follow us on Facebook to find out more details about our Empower Her Campaign.

Yours in service,

Breannah R. Alexander

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