It’s no secret that I’m an advocate for girls’ education and empowerment. Research shows that investing in young women and promoting their education correlates with healthier families, higher family incomes and economic development. I believe wholeheartedly in the transformative effect that a good education can have on a girl struggling to find her place in this world.
Oh, so this is about girl power? Kind of, but that’s not what I’m getting at. The point is that opportunity doesn’t knock on every girl’s door. And that’s where my campaign for education came in.
Over the last couple of months, I appealed to friends and family requesting donations for my annual fundraiser for the Young Women’s Alliance Foundation. YWAF is a female-focused leadership organization that I believe in and serve with — and it’s our gig to award grants and scholarships to young women and girls in the Austin area. These donations not only help provide local young women the gift of higher education, but they also help fund the character-building organizations that support them. These donations create economic opportunities. They support the next generation of smart, capable women leaders. That’s what I’m getting at.
For two months I enlisted donors to answer this call. My call. Not theirs. Most of them don’t really know what YWAF is. Heck, many don’t even live in the Austin area. They simply cared enough to make a donation to an organization that I told them I invest half my time in. And I guess I’m doing something right.
Since I started my campaign in November, I’ve been carrying around a little extra weight. That’s because I felt my heart grow three sizes every time I saw a name appear on my fundraising page offering someone else’s hard-earned money to help fund a stranger’s future. Incredibly, that happened 83 times — totaling $4,500 for education.
Nearly $20,000 was raised by our membership at large, and the benefits are already having an impact. Last week, the YWAF awarded a $5,000 Community Grant to Explore Austin, an awesome local organization that combines the benefits of mentoring and outdoor adventure for under-served youth in 6th-12th grades. Explore Austin will use the grant money to expand their girls’ program to a second middle school campus, enabling them to serve 90 girls by the end of 2014. That’s a significant expansion of the program.
Grateful is just not strong enough a word. I’m so humbled to have friends and family who helped make that possible.