2012 Activating Leadership:
Leading for Impact

“By leading for impact, these women and girls are finding their voices, taking charge of their lives and changing their communities. They’re offering new solutions and helping to create systemic change, across the country and around the globe. Our grant committee is truly inspired
by their work.”

– Reisa Brafman,

Social Consciousness Leader of Community Partnerships & Women's Initiatives

AfricAid: The Kisa Project ▲back to top

When Ashley Shuyler was sixteen, she founded AfricAid to help give girls in Tanzania the basic opportunity to go to school. Five years earlier, as an eleven-year-old, Ashley had traveled to Tanzania with her family and was struck by both the overwhelming poverty and the lack of opportunity for girls. Education required fees; families sent their sons, not their daughters, to school. In 2011 AfricAid started the Kisa Project, which not only ensures a high school education for girls, it provides Kisa Scholars with a two-year leadership training curriculum taught weekly by Tanzanian female role models. Upon graduation, Kisa Scholars are paid a stipend to mentor young girls in their home communities, helping to create the next generation of leaders across Africa.

Grant: $10,000

America SCORES New York: Girls Literacy in Action▲back to top

In West Harlem, girls often watch their brothers, fathers and cousins play sports while they sit on the sidelines. At America SCORES New York, girls not only score on the soccer field–they score at poetry slams like the one recently held at the Apollo Theater. Our grant goes to its enrichment program, Girls Literacy in Action. This twenty-two week, after-school program creates teams of sixteen girls and immerses them in creative writing, soccer and service projects. They have lobbied community leaders about increasing female team sports in Harlem. And they have gotten permission to plant flowers and beautify a rundown portion of their school's outdoor area, arguing that green space is in short supply in NYC. The program produces poet-athletes equipped with the leadership skills to change communities.

Grant: $15,000 plus $20,000 to expand to a second school

California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative ▲back to top

Low pay, toxic fumes and chemical exposure to beauty products–these are just some of the obstacles faced by the largely immigrant and refugee Vietnamese women who work in and own California nail salons. By empowering this underserved population as agents of change, the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative impacts hundreds and thousands of women across the state and the country. Education and outreach–including a Vietnamese language website–teaches workers how to protect themselves from chemical exposure and how to become grassroots advocates, reaching out to policy makers and beauty product manufacturers. Members have traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify in support of the Federal Safe Cosmetics Act, showing their peers that ordinary stories can influence the entire nail industry.

Grant: $20,000

Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness:
Next Generation Program ▲back to top

The path to ending violence against women starts with the Next Generation, according to the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness in San Francisco. Its Next Generation program trains college-age women to engage their peers and shift the culture around them. The Center offers Next Generation internships and Young Women's Leadership Retreats that teach self-care–an important skill in a high-burnout field–along with knowledge and leadership expertise that they can take into their professional lives, helping them to overcome obstacles and remain energetic and active within the movement. Next Generation participants have gone on to receive a Fulbright Grant to study the impact of economics on violence against women in Morocco, to do research on women's rights in Israel and to develop a training program about relationship abuse on a Native American reservation. The program is developing innovative tools, including a downloadable manual for organizations that want to start their own intern programs.

Grant: $30,000

Forward Together: SAFIRE program ▲back to top

What does it mean to be a girl growing up in an Asian immigrant community? SAFIRE, a San Francsico area program, helps teens navigate cultural stereotypes and speak out on issues that are often not discussed by their families or peers: body image, gender, dating violence, sexuality education, patriarchy and homophobia. Most of the girls start out as shy. Over the course of weekly meetings, they learn to talk in front of a group and voice their opinions. Each year they lead a campaign to address a community need. In 2012, the girls advocated for comprehensive sexuality education in their schools, something that is legally required but often neglected. SAFIRE is part of Forward Together, which serves low-income families and specializes in training social, economic and reproductive justice leaders.

Grant: $30,000

GlobalGirl Media ▲back to top

They've interviewed Michelle Obama, covered a workers' strike at Walmart and reported on rape in Morocco. GlobalGirl Media was created by a coalition of women broadcasters and journalists who recognized that mainstream reporting too often focuses on flash points of violence, celebrity or disaster, while the everyday experience and voice of the invisible majority, particularly young women, passes silently under the radar. With the explosion of social media networking and user-generated content on the web, the fact remains that this media is only open to those who have access to these technologies, leaving many youth, especially young girls in at-risk or impoverished communities, falling hard into the digital divide. GlobalGirl Media seeks to address this disparity by supplying the equipment, education and support necessary to help young women become digital and blog journalists, bringing their own unique perspective to the global web. They have active projects in South Africa, Morocco, Chicago and Los Angeles. Their correspondents have been featured by BBC radio, Al Jazeera English television and the Huffington Post.

Grant: $50,000

Mission Neighborhood Centers, Inc.:
Mission Girls Youth Leadership Council ▲back to top

For girls aged six to seventeen growing up in San Francisco's Mission District, violence, crime and poverty are constants. Mission Girls offers a safe space for some of the hardest to reach girls, those involved in the juvenile justice system, foster care and child protective services. Its Youth Leadership Council tackles systemic problems through the projects girls take on. They have created videos and educational programs that address date and statutory rape, gang violence, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and teenage prostitution. The Youth Leadership Council also facilitates career exploration, bringing in professional women of color as career mentors. Mission Girls are usually the first in their family to pursue a higher education, and the Youth Leadership Council program is often the only opportunity they get to learn about college opportunities. It continues to support the girls when they graduate, welcoming them back to connect with staff and maintain long-term involvement.

Grant: $20,000

N Street Village: Senior Peer Corps ▲back to top

Meals, shelter, wellness, health care, job training–N Street Village provides all this and more for one of the most vulnerable populations in the Washington, D.C., area: homeless and low-income women challenged by addiction and/or mental and physical illness. N Street's Senior Peer Corps is a transformative program that lets community members realize they do more than simply receive help–they can be leaders and change lives. Senior Peers connect staff and residents at the shelter and create an atmosphere of hospitality, safety and trust. They mentor new arrivals, give tours to visitors, help interview new staff and provide social support and recreational activity. The program demonstrates that Senior Peers can act positively rather than react negatively to circumstances, even as they struggle to improve or maintain stable housing situations.

Grant: $30,000

Resilience Advocacy Project (RAP): Go Girls! ▲back to top

New York City's poorest communities face alarming and disproportionate rates of teen parenthood, depression, dating violence and substance abuse among teen girls. RAP's Go Girls! trains young women to address a systemic problem: the sheer isolation of low-income adolescent girls from what should be basic health information and resources. Go Girls! participants design and set up health hubs at schools and libraries that provide their peers with access to substantive health rights education. They help their fellow teens navigate the complicated paperwork required to sign up for health insurance and community health programs, without passing judgment about sexual habits. Go Girls! transforms teen girls into powerful community health leaders who can break the cycle of poverty, creating the resiliency that is at the heart of RAP's mission.

Grant: $40,000

RightRides for Women's Safety ▲back to top

This Brooklyn-based nonprofit began in 2004 with a simple response to a spate of late-night sexual assaults: a car, a volunteer driver and a free, safe ride home for girls, women and LGBTQGNC individuals on Friday and Saturday nights. Today, RightRides runs on donated Zipcars and some 150 volunteers (one in three has been a Rider). Nearly 40 percent of riders work late-night shifts. Most cannot afford door-to-door transportation and therefore are vulnerable to assault, particularly when walking home through dimly lit neighborhoods. Volunteering at RightRides increases leadership skills and offers a first step toward greater involvement as an anti-violence advocate within the community at large.

Grant: $15,000 plus $5,000 for advocacy

Sadie Nash Leadership Project (SNLP):
Dean Leadership Program and ELLA Fellowship ▲back to top

The Dean Leadership Program is a skill-based internship for fourteen college juniors and seniors to gain hands-on youth work experience during SNLP's Brooklyn-based Summer Institute. In addition to serving as role models, mentors, and teaching assistants, Deans also undergo a highly transformative summer themselves with an intensive three-week training and opportunities to reflect daily on the lessons they are learning.

ELLA (Engage, Learn, Lead, Act) Fellowship provides twelve Fellows (ages 16 to 22) with intensive training to design individual projects in their community. This grassroots social justice fellowship fosters a close community and provides skills such as project management, curriculum development, facilitation and evaluation design.

Grant: $25,000

Seattle Police Foundation: The If Project ▲back to top

The If Project began with a question from Detective Kim Bogucki, left. In 2010 she casually asked inmates at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, "If there was something someone could have said or done that would have changed the path that led you here, what would it have been?" None of the women answered, but the question struck a chord with one inmate, Renata Abramson. When Detective Kim returned, Renata gave her a handful of thoughtful answers she'd solicited from fellow inmates. The If Project had begun. Today, the project asks Detective Kim's original question and encourages inmates to answer through writings, film, an interactive website and outreach that triggers girls to look at their own lives, think about their strengths and weaknesses and ask for help to prevent them from following the path of these inmates. The program is transformative for communities—and inmates. It gives them an opportunity to look deeply into themselves, to grow into leaders and to create change even while incarcerated. After their release, the women serve as speakers and leaders at The If Project, involvement that helps to prevent recidivism.

Grant: $50,000

The Women's Collective:
Positive Leaders Uplifting Sisters (PLUS) Network ▲back to top

Patricia Nails founded The Women's Collective for a very personal reason: She lost a husband and a daughter to AIDS–and then discovered she was HIV positive. Ashamed and estranged, she found most services in Washington, D.C. focused on men–especially gay men–and not on single mothers like herself. Patricia started a support group that became the Women's Collective, offering services and sanctuary for low-income women living with HIV/AIDS. Its leadership program, PLUS Network, turns an overlooked sisterhood into advocates for change. Some women are ready to share their experiences as speakers, educators and activists, others feel more empowered working behind the scenes. The PLUS Network aims to move beyond having a "token" HIV positive woman testifying in places of influence and sitting at decision-making tables. Its goal is to empower the women affected by HIV/AIDS to generate solutions, strengthen policy and be the leaders of change.

Grant: $50,000

Photo credit: Corbis-Scott Stulberg

World Pulse: Digital Action Campaigns ▲back to top

World Pulse is a global media enterprise devoted to giving women a voice. Through its interactive media channels, over 40,000 women from over 190 nations are speaking out about gender-based violence, lack of education, inadequate health care, political oppression and other deep and sometimes forbidden topics. They connect with each other and the world from Internet cafes, rural villages and even refugee camps. World Pulse's Digital Action Campaigns links participants to high-impact forums such as UN Women, the United Nations entity devoted to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Among the World Pulse letters given to executive director Michelle Bachelet in 2011 was one from Fardosa Muse, who spoke of dire conditions of the Dadaab Refugee Camps, a settlement on the border of Kenya and Somalia. Her story helped solidify Michelle's decision to visit the camps. When Michelle arrived at Dadaab in April 2011, Fardosa came forward and proudly led the UN delegation through the camps.

Grant: $40,000

Zoe's Place: Zoe's Cupcake Cafe▲back to top

Zoe's Place is a haven in Bergen County, New Jersey–a safe, supervised residence for homeless, economically disadvantaged pregnant teens, teen moms and their babies. It is funded through donations and a creative enterprise: Zoe's Cupcake Cafe. Teens are trained to run the Cafe, providing them with more than just a paycheck. Zoe's Cupcake Cafe is a uniquely nurturing environment that encourages them to complete their education, set priorities and balance work and motherhood. It offers a stark contrast to the culture of negativity that teen moms face. "We are slow to fire employees if they 'mess up,' " says Miriam Bloom, Director of Operations. "Significant personal transformation happens over time. We set attainable goals–first be a leader at home, in the family. Leadership is about many things. One aspect of leadership is getting things done." By helping the girls manage their lives while working and going to school, Zoe's Place and Zoe's Cupcake Cafe aims to break the cycle of poverty: Studies document that every girl who completes her education and secures employment positively impacts her children's chances for success.

Grant: $20,000 plus $30,000 for extra hire