We love hearing how women are actively engaging in their communities, so when we heard of Empower HerFuture and the work the organization has been doing, we knew we had share their story. Madeline and Marie-Nicole started Empower HerFuture in the Fall of 2016 to help young women identify their unique value and abilities as leaders in their communities. We asked them to share the heart behind the vision and why they got started.
How did Empower HerFuture (EHF) begin? Tell us more about your story.
Having the opportunity to attend an all women’s college together, and both coming from a co-ed educational background where there existed a lack of emphasis on women’s leadership, we felt incredibly empowered by our newfound classroom environment and community at Scripps. Overall, the dichotomy between the way in which we interacted and expressed ourselves in co-ed versus all-women’s classrooms reinforced our belief that instituting programs where women are able to grow as leaders from a young age, through having access to resources such as ours, is implicit towards success in and out of the classroom.
In Fall of 2016, while we were both studying abroad, we met up in Greece and found ourselves diving into yet another conversation about the lack of empowerment of young women, especially in high school settings, which leads women to shy away from speaking up later in life. Personally, we felt affected by this because of the drastic change that took place when we began attending an all women’s college. We began developing a concept for an organization based on fixing this problem; we both had the passion, and when putting our skill sets together, we knew we could do just about anything we set our minds to.
Weeks later, after returning to our respective study abroad countries, the election sent controversial shockwaves throughout the world. The overwhelming need for women’s voices to be heard became drastically apparent…now was the moment to make our two-week old concept a reality. Despite being in different parts of Europe, in a matter of weeks, and thousand of texts and WhatsApp calls later, we had conducted research, sent out surveys, developed thorough and specific curriculum, planned out budgets, designed and launched a website, created social media pages, and reached out to schools across California. By the end of 2016, we had three jobs lined up for the upcoming school term. Since then, we’ve worked with hundreds of girls in the LA Area and expanded our team to include 8 EHF mentors across the country, who facilitate our free workshops in high schools and middle schools in their respective areas. We’ve also collaborated with several larger organizations including GIRLS Inc., and have announced our Empower Summit (an event we will be hosting in conjunction with Harvard-Westlake High school, for over 200 girls from a variety of backgrounds in LA, on Nov. 11, 2017).
What is the mission and vision of EHF?
At EHF, our mission is to inspire women from a young age to recognize the value in their individual and unique voices. Through customized, skill-based workshops, EHF challenges young women to identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to develop crucial skills such as public speaking and leadership, and boost overall confidence. Our vision is to empower every girl we can, and from a young age, instill into them their innate value and abilities as leaders in their communities. We are intent on keeping our workshops free in order to empower every single girl with access to our resources.
What role has community played in recognizing and achieving your aspirations?
Through social media, as well as the connections we’ve made through networking and by facilitating workshops, we have found that the LA community is incredibly supportive and eager to learn more about EHF. The strong, positive response we have continued to receive has allowed us to keep growing, and even expand our team cross-country! In addition, there exists a great deal of overlap when it comes to female empowerment organizations, allowing us to connect and work together to build something great. Applying our skill-based expertise with the resources and mission of other organizations has powerful potential to reach hundreds more women in the most effective ways. We are always looking for other organizations and schools to collaborate with, and enjoy this crossover as a productive way to empower girls all over the country.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of starting EHF?
The most rewarding aspect of starting EHF has been interacting with young women of all ages and backgrounds, and watching them come out of their shells during our workshops. When facilitating our first workshop, we were incredibly nervous, hoping we wouldn’t make fools of ourselves. As we got further along in our workshop and after completing a partner activity, we asked the class to share a great experience or an example of what they had worked on with their partners. A younger girl in the class who had been quiet and shy throughout the hour-long workshop, raised her hand. Although very nervous, the entire class cheered her on as she came up to the front of the classroom, and brilliantly recited her experience. The entire class high-fived her on her way back, congratulating her with positive affirmations and smiles for her bravery. At the end of the class in our de-briefing session, each girl had taken away a different message from the workshop in how they can grow into more confident speakers and leaders. This moment stuck out to us because we knew that all of our hard work had paid off.
What does it look like for EHF to be successful in your eyes? What are your hopes for the future?
To us, EHF is already a success. We’ve been able to reach hundreds of girls, and even if just one girl comes out of a workshop having gained a newfound skill, or feeling more confident, we see this as having made a positive impact in someone’s life. From the response we have received, from all different types of girls, we know that we have made an impact. In the future, we hope to expand our organization to include more mentors cross-country and continue to host large events such as our Empower Summit. We would love if this organization were able to continue growing and successfully helping younger women recognize their value and worth.
*We’re thankful for the work EHF does to come alongside women and equip them for initiating change in their communities. If you’re Interested in helping support the next generation of women world-changers, find out more about how to get involved with Empower HerFuture. If you’re a woman who is looking for a community and resources where you can be supported and challenged as you create more goodness in the world, check out the Yellow Collective. *