Thursday, December 18, 2014

Job Readiness Program makes an impact

Six weeks has never gone by so fast. With Powerful Voices Job Readiness program coming to a close I find myself busied with the logistics of closing out a program. In retrospect, we hit the ground running and covered a myriad of job readiness training during a short period of time. Topics throughout the program touched on transferable skills, communication, resume writing, cover letters, and interviewing. What set this program apart from any employment program I've heard of was that, while our focus was on job readiness, there was still the element of an all girls group that is unique to Powerful Voices programs.
Participants: Lotajah & Cherise

At the beginning of the program we created community agreements. These agreements were set by the group on behaviors that we want to cultivate to create safe space, like inclusiveness. On the flip side, (or more literally outside our circle of agreements), a behavior we agreed to abstain from was bullying. These community agreements set the bar for the rest of the program and were a living document that we could revisit periodically as the program progressed.

We kicked off the program with one of my favorite icebreakers called: Common Ground. If you have never played Common Ground, it is a easy, active way to identify things people have in common. Everyone forms a circle with chairs and removes one seat. The person without a chair stands in the center of the circle and completes the sentence: “I share common ground with people who ______________.” 

What they share must be something that cannot be visible. Everyone who shares that commonality has to find another place in the circle and whoever does not find a chair, goes in the middle of the circle and repeats the same prompt using a quality they possess. Some of my favorite statements that girls came up with were: “I share common ground with girls who like girls.” “I share common ground with people who speak more than one language.” “I share common ground with people who are multi-racial.”

Throughout the program we had the opportunity to have guest speakers come in to cover a range of topics such as resume creation, financial literacy, and college readiness. I even learned a few things! Megan Domingo from Boeing, who volunteered to lead the resume workshop, informed us that some companies throw out resumes with bullet points.  

Mock interview day was probably my favorite session because it was a good opportunity to see the girls in action, utilizing the skills we had developed over the course of our time together. Not to mention how awesome it was to see the youth all “professionalized out” with their blazers and dress pants, everyone was looking sharp. A participant named, Emone showed up a whole hour early to practice before her interview. Her interviewer had this praise to say after they met: “Emone did a great job! She was very professional and well prepared. [After the interview] She said she was nervous but it didn't show.”

Although I’m bummed that the Job Readiness program has come to a close, I am ready to kick off the new year with our ActiveVistas program which we will recruit for in January and which will start in March 2015. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Top 14 of 2014

A Note from our Executive Director, Jane Hinton:

The close of 2014 is occurring within the context of national conversations about sexism, safety, race and justice.  We each experience this conversation within the reality of our own identities.  As we listen to each other, engage in courageous conversations and actions, and find our roles in this transformational time - we are creating a collective call for change.

I believe change will happen.   I believe change is happening.  I hear it in the voices of the youth we partner with and I see it in the actions of allies who recognize that racism and sexism are not just a detriment to those who are marginalized, but a detriment to the health and well-being of our entire community.

In that spirit, I offer you my "Top 14 of 2014" - examples of change that occurred this year as girls and allies partnered to build a more just world. 
  1. 297 girls join the 5,000+ that came before them in graduating from our programs with increased confidence, skills and power.
  2. A record-setting 280 youth and adults showed up for the Girlvolution to learn "if I am open, others will be," as stated by a 14 year-old attendee.
  3. 71 adults attended Girl Justice workshops and are now equipped to use girl- and race-specific practices with other youth.
  4. Girls graduating from Powerful Choices stated that they are "letting go of self doubt, stress, negative thoughts, fear of being judged about things I can't do" and "taking in confidence, confidence, confidence! friendship and love, positive thoughts, the new friends I have made."
  5. For the 17th consecutive year, Powerful Voices brought our programs into King County Juvenile Detention to help girls explore their right to feel safe, make healthy choices, and advocate for themselves.
  6. Powerful Voices' innovative + evidence-based practices were featured in the Spring 2014 edition of Afterschool Matters - via an article written by co-founder Ann Muno.
  7. 217 people took action and volunteered their time to invest in girls growth.
  8. We certified 5 facilitators from Atlantic Street Center to deliver the Powerful Choices curriculum - an exciting first step in our goal to build capacity for other organizations to replicate our program model, which is great timing because:
  9. We received requests for curriculum from 25 different organizations, from Florida to Indiana to Maryland to California.
  10. Every month, alumna stopped by the office and gave us the chance to see the long-term impact of our programs.  There was nothing better than hearing them say, "I learned so much at this place" or "I'm using the things I learned here in my job!"
  11. The Day of the Girl went BIGGER - doubling attendance from last year, over 400 advocates responded to our call to action, and invested $75,000 in the voices, perspectives and strengths of Powerful Voices.
  12. Building the strength of our organization, the Board of Directors solidified our identity, defined our impact and refined our strategy for the future.  Read more in our Strategic Framework.
  13. For the 18th consecutive year, Powerful Voices brought programs into Seattle Public Schools middle schools to build 21st century skills that support success at every stage of life.
  14. YOU - our supporters.  We built a stronger base of support this year - we loved welcoming back our loyal fans, partners and donors and were excited to grow our community, deepen partnerships, meet new fans and add 1,200 subscribers via social media/email list.

Thank you to all of you who have partnered with us this year.   

If you haven't given to Powerful Voices in 2014, you are going to want to be part of our work to shape a more just world.  Please make a donation before December 31st.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Girl Justice 2015


Become part of the movement by helping girls' develop critical thinking, leadership, and self-efficacy skills.

Girl Justice is an affordable, interactive one-day workshop hosted and facilitated by Powerful Voices, a non-profit that has been serving girls ages 12-18 since 1995. Our gender-specific and strengths-based approaches are rooted in a social justice analysis.

In this workshop we will strengthen your girl justice analysis as we:
  • Deconstruct messages embedded in the socialization of girls in American culture
  • Analyze how intersections of oppression impact youth
  • Explore our own relationships to privilege and oppression
  • Discuss how adultism affects our ability to effectively serve youth     
  • Practice strength-based approaches in one-on-one and group work
  • Become better adult allies to youth!  
This training will close with a Youth Panel comprised of graduates of our program who will share their experience in our programs, give advice and tips on the best ways to support youth, and answer questions.

Save the date for Friday, February 20, 2015.

Registration opens January 12th via 

Give Two Minutes to Powerful Voices

You're a fan.  Guess what?  We need your help. 

Here are a few 2-minute actions you could take to support Powerful Voices.  I hope you will pick one (or more!) and join us in building our network of advocates for social justice.  

Two-minute actions:
1)  Comment on this post with a quote we can share with our community about why you are a fan of Powerful Voices.  Please let us know if you would like us to use your name, or keep the quote anonymous.  Finish this sentence, "I'm a fan of Powerful Voices because ____________________."

2) Use social media to raise awareness about Powerful Voices.  Your networks can become our networks when you share posts found on our FB page or share this video or Kelsy's story.

3)  Send a thank you email or have a conversation with someone in your life who has given their time, talents or money to help strong girls become strong women. Tell them about your involvement with Powerful Voices, invite them to check out our Strategic Framework and encourage them to connect with Powerful Voices.  

You are an integral part of the Girlvolution.  Thank you for giving to Powerful Voices!