Step Up Mentorship Came to Life on High School Campuses Nationwide this Fall

//Programs, Mentorship, What We Do

Step Up Mentorship Came to Life on High School Campuses Nationwide this Fall

Step Up thanks our network of educators across our partner high school campuses nationwide! See how they helped Step Up mentorship programming come to life on their campuses during the fall semester:

Learning from the Best

Author and Sprinkles Cupcakes Founder Candace Nelson visited Step Up partner Ogden International High School in Chicago and shared her recipe for success from her new book, Sweet Success, with Step Up teens. Candace and the Step Up teens reflected on the key ingredients to any successful business, the mindset of an entrepreneur and stepping into a personal brand to amplify a business. She also shared her famous red velvet cupcakes as well as a copy of her book with each girl! We thank Ogden Fellow Dara Davis for hosting Candace on campus!

Candace NelsonAuthor and Sprinkles Cupcakes Founder Candace Nelson visits Step Up teens at Ogden International High School in Chicago during November.

Money Matters

Step Up believes financial literacy is an important skill for teens, particularly for those who may be facing systemic barriers as they pursue their dreams of success. To support teens in developing basic money management skills, Step Up hosted a fun, interactive workshop in Nashville (shout out to Fellow Ashley Roth of Stratford STEM High School for attending!). Working with mentors, teens had the opportunity to explore setting up a bank account, understanding what personal income could look like with and without a post-secondary degree, and setting budgets for necessities and entertainment alike.

Money Matters workshopStep Up’s Money Matters workshop provided teens with the chance to build financial literacy skills in Nashville during November.

Our Step Up Fellows Make Magic Happen!

Step Up Fellow Mrs. Tonya Ricks

Step Up Fellow: Mrs. Tonya Ricks

Role at Drew Charter High School in Atlanta: Media Specialist

Number of years at Drew Charter High School: 10 years

Step Up: Why did you decide to become a fellow?

Mrs. Tonya Ricks: I have worked several programs at Drew with students such as Book Clubs, YEAH, Book Buddies and others that required recruitment and organization.

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

TR: As an educator for over thirty years, I truly have a love for working with students. The Step Up young ladies are building bonds with each other and even a sisterhood, which provides a safe place for them to share without reservations.

SU: How did you recruit students for the program?

TR: I recruited my Step Up girls with promotional flyers, announcements, our Step Up student Ambassador and my witty personality. The students find it really hard to say no to Mrs. Ricks.

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

TR: One of the Step Up highlights thus far was the wellness session in which we had a yoga session, guest speaker and our photo shoot. The girls loved the Dress for Success Day we created.

Step Up Fellow Ms. Ashley Roth

Step Up Fellow: Ms. Ashley Roth

Role at Stratford STEM in Nashville: English teacher

Number of years at Stratford: 3 years

Step Up: Why did you decide to bring Step Up on Campus to Stratford STEM?

Ms. Ashley Roth: Our principal approached me with the opportunity, and I jumped at it. Ever since starting at Stratford, I noticed a need for a girl-centered group outside of sports. Step Up literally offered such an amazing opportunity that I knew our girls needed.

SU: Why did you decide to become a Step Up fellow?

AR: My favorite part about teaching is the relationship building and making real-life connections with students—and being a fellow seemed like another amazing opportunity to do just that. I wish we had had Step Up when I was in high school, and was so excited to be involved in being that mentor for a younger generation of girls.

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

AR: SO many things! I love watching the girls figure out who they are and have these great conversations with each other. I absolutely ADORED watching how immersed they all were in the trip to CAA. I love watching girls come out of their shells and learn about things that matter to them without the pressure of the regular classroom

SU: How did you recruit students for the program?

AR: I’ve been an active member of the arts community for years, which often involves a lot of promotion both on the performing and organizing side of things, so I’m used to the shameless plugs and finding ways to market everything to anyone and everyone. I posted to school and teacher socials, asked former and current students, and then asked them again. We did school announcements and encouraged all recruits to bring at least one friend—and a lot of them did!

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

AR: Obviously, our recent trip to Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Nashville was the BIGGEST highlight. Girls snapped photos of the downtown view and were genuinely intrigued by the career paths offered at CAA. The other big highlight was our wellness session. Girls had the best conversations after doing their Wellness Wheels, and I was able to over some adult hindsight perspective!

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

AR: The Step Up program is such an asset to young girls. It may take a bit of time to get momentum, but the experiences and opportunities offered in Step Up are so needed. Girls need that connective inspiring tissue to a successful adulthood, particularly in underserved or underrepresented communities.

Eco-Friendly Holidays for Educators

As we settle into this winter season, let's begin to reflect and wind down while entering this season of celebration, gatherings, and showing gratitude. Let us show our gratitude, not only to our communities, family, and friends but, also to our environment!For it is only due to Mother Nature we are able to grow and sustain the communities and family we have in our lives.

As some may consider this the most wonderful time of the year, others may spiral into what seems like a never-ending stressful holiday rabbit hole of dinner prepping/attending, gift buying, and home decorating. With that said, now more than ever is the time to recognize and be grateful for the ability to be in shared spaces and communities.

Under the current climate of conditions our world is under, we should show appreciation for what this season has to offer while simultaneously being conscious of how we can leave a positive impact on our environment; for the consuming culture that we live under can leave quite a mark on our environment- and not in a good way.

So, here are some tips and tricks on how to give back to your loved ones and the environment with sustainable gift-giving, holiday hacks and sustainable practices you can carry on this holiday and for years to come.

Sustainable and impactful gift giving ideas:

  • Reuse and save gift bags or boxes for future gift giving
  • Does the bag have “TO” and “FROM” written in it? No worries, add a new sticker on top of it!
  • Also have no shame in preserving the gift stuffing or bows.
  • Give back to the community by getting gifts from your local mom and pop markets and shops!

25 Best Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas

Zero waste gift wrapping ideas

How to sustainably rid of your tree

More Eco friendly facts and tips to keep in mind for this holiday season

Remember to embrace the present moment and dwell in the time we have to spend with family and friends. Giving appreciation back to our communities can come in such a small yet impactful way. Get crafty and have fun and get the whole family involved! Happy Holidays!

Greetings from Step Up’s Community Engagement Team

We’re thrilled to be working with you. As your go-to contacts for all things Step Up, please feel free to let us know how we can best support you.

Maya Menon – director, community engagement

Hello! My name is Maya Menon and I am the Director of Community Engagement at Step Up. I am based in Chicago and have lived here for over 18 years. I studied political science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and have worked in the nonprofit sector since I graduated. Before coming to Step Up, I worked as a consultant for curriculum writing and design around topics like identity, diversity and emotional health. I love reading, writing, exploring neighborhoods in the city and spending time with my two daughters, ages 6 and 8. I believe in creating spaces where people can authentically be themselves and build community!

Danielle Pesqueira – community engagement associate

Hello I am Danielle (they/them) and I am one of your lovely community engagement associates! I am based in Pico Rivera, California, and I am a 2020 graduate from Whittier College. I studied art history, and am extremely passionate about elevating the voices of those who have been historically less heard. I love fashion, poetry, music, and everything colorful and fun. I try to step up every day by inspiring others to purse their passions by leading from example.

Mailé Lazarin – community engagement associate

Hi everyone! My name is Mailé (My-lay) I one of the community engagement associates. I am a college senior, finishing my final semester. I will be graduating with a women and gender studies major. I am currently located in Chicago, but I’m originally from the Bay Area in California. One of my many passions along with art, being in nature, and traveling is empowering women in their own individual journey to authenticity!

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