Something about the spirit of the season, during the holidays, connects us to the inner truth of giving back; Whilst this moment in time, inspires humanity to be the best version of itself, that it can be.
This spiritual connectivity brings us to today’s article, where The Y Life is featuring an organization spreading its purpose throughout the nation. Y? Because women helping to inspire and motivate other young women living in at-risk circumstances, is not just worthy of mention, but honor. Sometimes it just takes the proof of human responsibility to help pave the road of opportunity for others, by showing the innocence of humanity, the vulnerable too can live up to their full potential.
‘Women of Tomorrow’ is a unique mentoring program, designed to empower at-risk teenage girls in our nation’s public high schools, to turn obstacles into opportunities! You see, this organization is proof that by exposing young people to poignant circumstances where they can be motivated to believe in themselves and the possibilities of their futures, it holds true to providing them the confidence they need to open their doors of success.
The mentors are highly accomplished professional women, who are specifically trained to help create hope for a pathway out of poverty, proving that dropping out of High School Is not the answer by increasing the opportunity for young women to have doors of access to higher education open before them and hence further fostering their power within the 21st century workforce.
‘Women of Tomorrow’ began in 1997, when television news personality Jennifer Valoppi designed this unique program, hand in hand with the support of then NBC 6 President & General Manager Don Browne. Supporting women and minorities in the workplace is one of the main reasons why ‘Women of Tomorrow’ was created. Since the late 90s the organization has worked with more than 11,000 girls, awarded more than $4 Million in scholarships since 2000 and with great accord has been recognized 8 times on the floor of Congress.
Many ‘Women of Tomorrow’ mentees come from families where attaining higher education has never been possible, in fact 48% are first generation to graduate high school and nearly 64% are the first generation to pursue higher education. They are instead at risk of getting pregnant, becoming involved in gangs, drugs or other criminal activity, are targets of abuse and economic, social, behavioral, medical and academic risk factors.
The Y Life was honored to sit down with ‘Women of Tomorrow’ President Jennifer Valoppi and get to know what inspired her to establish this organization. Jennifer is a multi-Emmy Award winning TV journalist, award winning author and social entrepreneur who has used her platform to continually help young women achieve their goals.
“What inspired me to start this organization… was when I was in college the research was very clear the real problem with equality between men and women was not so much, that men felt that women were inferior, and that women who did make it to the top liked being the only ones there, and didn’t do anything to help other young women along. So, that was kind of the start of it, I kept this in the back of my head for many, many years; Throughout my career in television, I mentored young people whether they were men or women and when I had the opportunity to put it together in a more formal way, I created ‘Women of Tomorrow.’”
Your Mission… “Changing the world one young woman at a time”… is pivotal in today’s day in age, but what do you feel is the greatest obstacle faced by young women across our globe?
“Across the globe is a difficult question. There are places in the world today where women still cannot be educated. For thousands of years, the powers that be have known that if you want to keep a population down you simply restrict their access to education – because EDUCATION IS POWER! So I would say the greatest obstacle is lack of education, whether it’s forced or by choice.”
Since 1997 ‘Women of Tomorrow’ has impacted more than 13,000 young women and Jennifer went on to explain, how today “72 cities in Miami- Dade, Broward, Palm Beach counties, Metro-Detroit and Greater Philadelphia” are now reaping the benefits of the ‘WOT’ organization.
It has been noted by ‘Women of Tomorrow’ that mentoring is one of the most powerful tools to help empower people, but Y is mentorship so important for young women specifically?
“Women have a tougher road to the top and those who make it there, have all learned similar ways around the obstacles. Sharing this with other young women will enable them to achieve success in many areas of life.”
Mentoring is one of the main aspects about ‘Women of Tomorrow’, it’s all about women mentoring other young women, so I was wondering if you had a mentor in your life that inspired you?
“Women of Tomorrow, is only very accomplished professional women mentoring other women, and we mentor in groups, we don’t mentor one on one, so it is very different from other mentoring organizations… ‘Women of Tomorrow’ is based on research I was familiar with in college, in the psychology of women or adolescents…
As far as a mentor myself… Well, my Grandmother was a mentor, I mean her values and philosophies. [She was] an amazing woman who had survived the Turkish massacre, the Armenians, she had grown up during the genocide; she was a woman of great honor and dignity and in many ways, she was certainly my mentor.”
Wow, I love the fact that your Grandmother played such an important role of inspiration in your life, I think that is beautiful. This brings me to how ‘Women of Tomorrow’ is not just about motivating women to get good grades, you see this program plays a special role in the human evolvement of these young women.
Young women are transformed into being hopeful about their futures, once they have felt the impact of ‘Women of Tomorrow’. I think a lot of it has to do with these incredibly powerful women coming to inspire them, by showing them that anything is possible and that they too can be as successful as they dream.
How does this organization cultivate hope within its mentors, to better translate inspiration to these young women?
“Our mentors are all very special women… as highly accomplished professionals, they took similar paths to get where they are and one of those paths is education, another is hard work and another is persistence. You know, women who become very successful share a lot of things in common, I think most people who are successful share a lot of things in common and our ‘Women of Tomorrow’ mentors are no exception. They are conveying to these young women, the path they learned for success.
The whole premise of ‘Women of Tomorrow’ is that we get out there and inspire these young women to live up to their full potential… We show them the road, we show them how to navigate and then we give the resources to achieve their dreams, in terms of college scholarships.
You know, sometimes with at-risk kids one of the biggest, most difficult obstacles is just to give them dreams, because nothing great has happened to them in their past and they are not accepting it. Giving them the dream is a very significant thing to do, but our mentors are all incredible women… the women that we have, understand the challenges that these girls are going to face, because they have faced plenty of challenges in their own lives and they have overcome.”
Over the past 18 years, has ‘Women of Tomorrow’ grown in ways you projected, or have you been surprised by the organizations success?
“‘Women of Tomorrow’ is a unique, powerful and simple model with proven results. Yes, I am surprised and humbled at the impact it continues to have on the lives of at-risk young women. As a result of this impact, I hope to continue to make it available to more and more at-risk girls in the days to come.”
More than $4 Million dollars has been awarded to young women since the year 2000, how can young women seek help from ‘Women Of Tomorrow’ to help further their education?
“Actually the figure is $4.8 million now. In order to be eligible for scholarships, they must be a graduate of our program.”
If any young women in your community are interested in becoming involved with ‘WOT’, to help young women reach their full potential, and are wondering if there is anything they can do…