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See Who Supported Step Up During Women's History Month

Celebrity shoutout from Mindy Kaling!
Holly: Port Allen, LA
Anahi: Chicago, IL

During March, we celebrated Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day - here are some of our #WomensHistoryMonth partners who supported Step Up:

Sprinkles Cupcakes: Proceeds from the exclusive “I am Fierce” red velvet cupcake benefitted Step Up

Target: A capsule collection of Frida Kahlo t-shirts was available, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Step Up.

Ba&sh: “Women are Fundamental” shirts were available through March and benefitted Step Up.

Poplinen: 10% of all orders made in March benefitted Step Up.

All Moringa: Through March, 15% of sales benefitted Step Up.

Karuna Skin: 10% of proceeds from purchases at during March were donated to Step Up.

Actress Zaria (middle) visits Step Up at Bloomfield HS in Los Angeles

Did you know Pretty Little Liars actress Zaria visited our Step Up after-school program at Bloomfield HS in Los Angeles? Zaria worked with our teens on navigating life and career pivots (the lily pad activity) and setting goals (WOOP!). Phoebe Tonkin (H2O: Just Add Water and The Originals) also visited Gertz-Ressler High School in Los Angeles on April 10. She spent time working on the week 8 curriculum supporting girls explore career pathways. Step Up staff including our CEO Delores Morton also attended the visits.

Meet the fellows from two more of our Step Up schools:

Name: Sarah Bridgewaters

School: Walter Payton High School, Chicago

Role: Learning Behavior Specialist

Years at School: 2

SU: Why do you think Step Up on Campus is a good fit for Walter Payton?

SB: Step Up is a great fit for any high school campus. Teenagers are starting to worry about their future, and may not have the vocabulary or knowledge to voice their concerns. Step Up's programming provides answers to questions that students may not even think to ask about the path to life after high school.

SU: Why did you decide to become a fellow?

SB: I became a fellow because Step Up is an opportunity I would have loved to benefit from in high school, and is an opportunity I saw myself benefiting from in the present as well.

SU: What do you enjoy most about being a fellow?

SB: I enjoy working with students outside of the classroom or "traditional" clubs. I get to understand a side of students I normally wouldn't have the chance to see, especially around their specific worries about growing up. This more in depth interaction with students has been incredibly helpful, and has allowed for more meaningful instruction in the classroom with students who participate in Step Up and even with those who do not.

SU: How did you recruit students for the program?

SB: I am lucky to have another staff member working with me as a mentor. We collaborated to reach out to students within our own classes, and were able to have teachers across multiple departments post in their Google classrooms about Step Up. We mostly relied on word of mouth and digital outreach... and the promise of snacks.

SU: What is one highlight from your sessions so far?

SB: Step Up has provided a safe and comfortable place for students and the mentors. One highlight has been when a student set a goal to participate more in class (and did!!) as participating in Step Up made her feel more confident in her answers and overall ability.

SU: Anything else you want to share with our school partners around the country?

SB: Teenagers love snacks. They will tell their friends that Step Up has snacks, and then stay for the transformative programming.

Name: Mele Makalo

School: Stella High, Los Angeles

Role: After School All Stars Program Leader

Years at School: 3

SU: Why do you think Step Up on Campus is a good fit for Stella High?

MM: There are a great deal of challenges that young women encounter today. Between the pressures that exist from social media, peers, loved ones and strangers, young women's sense of self is constantly attacked and compromised. Step Up is a program that provides resources, curriculum with aims to provide young women with the space to empower themselves and each other. One of the remarkable things that I've been able to observe through Step Up at Stella is how the career development exploration process has cultivated opportunities for the young women to be more introspective and reflective in ways that has strengthened their relationships with their Step Up sisters.

SU: Why did you decide to become a fellow?

MM: Stella is a considerably small high school, but the sense of belonging and community needs improvement at Stella. The COVID-19 quarantine period impacted the ways in which students choose to interact or avoid interacting with one another. I decided to become a Step Up fellow in hopes of being a part of a program that could cultivate space for students to build community. Throughout my own life and throughout history, I've witnessed and learned about the transformational ways in which women uplift spaces, communities and lives. When the sense of belonging is strong between women, it's contagious and naturally strengthens the broader sense of community. My hope is that as the Step Up sisters bond grows stronger, they can individually and collective contribute to a strengthened Stella community.

SU: What do you enjoy most about being a fellow?

MM: I enjoy witnessing the Step Up sisters’ growth each week. In the first two weeks, it was clear that race relations and grade level impacted where students sat in the classroom. By week 3, the Step Up sisters have comfortably switched up who they sit with and talk to throughout Step Up sessions. Each week, I get to witness each Step Up participant become more confident about being unapologetically themselves. They all started off reserved and guarded, but each week, I witness the ways each Step Up sister peels back their guards and reservations through the vulnerable things they share, the joy they express with each other and the more in depth dialogues that they engage in beyond the Step Up sessions. As the sense of belonging strengthens between the Step Up sisters, their sense of self does too. That strengthened sense of self contributes to their ability to do deep reflection about career opportunities that they want to pursue and work towards.

SU: How did you recruit students for the program?

MM: The Stella After School All Stars Coordinator, Stella Counselor and I worked together to recruit students. The Coordinator, Charmane, hosted lunch recruitment, sent out parent square announcements about Step Up and scheduled Step Up information sessions. The Stella Counselor, Ms. Gonzalez advertised the Step Up info sessions to students that came by her office. All three of us co-facilitated the Step Up info sessions then made phone calls to all of the guardians of the students that signed the interest form or attended an info session to request that they support their child's participation in Step Up. Each week, reminders about program offerings after school are shared during advisory period in addition to email reminders.

SU: What is one highlight from your sessions so far?

MM: My highlight of Step Up has been the Pajama Party. At the end of every Step Up session, I spend 5-10 minutes asking each student to share a glow and a grow. Their glow is something that they appreciated about the Step Up session or experience while their grow is something that they'd like me to change or improve about the future Step Up sessions. During week 2, the students expressed that they enjoy spending the first 10 minutes of Step Up sessions getting to know peers at their tables, but they want an opportunity to get to know everyone. So, we collectively agreed to schedule a Pajama Party for Week 4. No curriculum, just pajamas, blankets, stuffed animals, food, karaoke, games and sister time. That Pajama Party is the moment I witnessed the Step Up sense of belonging transform.

SU: Anything else you want to share with our school partners around the country?

SB: Whoever is reading this wherever you are, thank you for your heartwork as educators. I acknowledge this work is challenging and perhaps you may not be thanked enough for your contributions as an educator or community organizer. So, I would like to take the time to tell you that you are valued and appreciated for planting seeds that will blossom. When those seeds that you planted blossom, the fruits from your labor will become the life source for other seeds to be planted all because of your contributions as an educator. Keep organizing, keep learning, keep sharing knowledge, keep listening and keep creating safe spaces. Your work is valuable!

Sign Up for Career Camp!

Our free, virtual 3-week camp this July exposes students to companies like PepsiCo, Benefit Cosmetics, LinkedIn, Comcast NBCUniversal, Google, and more. Students can put their summer days to work, helping them jumpstart the career of their dreams! Students can subscribe here to receive more details. 

Do You Have News to Share About Step Up on Your Campus?

Contact Director of Community Engagement, Maya Menon:

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