Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation Makes Grant Possible
AURORA, IL, USA, August 18, 2021. “We envision a prosperous and vibrant Aurora that fully embraces and supports a reimagined women’s empowerment movement so that women and girls of all ages, races, ethnicities, and income levels feel respected and valued, and are nurtured to achieve their fullest potential,” said Amy Baudouin, Board Chair, Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation. “This vision we hold for our city is fully activated by West Aurora High School’s Empowered Women of the Future Club and we are honored to support them.”
West Aurora High School’s Empowered Women of the Future (EWF) Club was founded by Janice Baez in 2019. At the time, Baez, a junior, felt inspired to begin a focused and ongoing program at the school with support by teacher sponsor, Terri Shepard, to bring together young women who want to develop their opportunities, empower other girls and women, and create a world of equality and equity.
The club serves a diverse population of girls: 74 percent of the student population are of color and 50 percent come from low-income families. Many of the girls have experienced hardships, further worsened by the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and need the support of mentors and empowered peers to complete their secondary education, pursue post-secondary opportunities, and evolve into community leaders.
“Patriarchal cultural tradition, systemic racism resulting in academic and economic inequity, ignorance of educational and career opportunities, and lack of basic financial support limit the dreams and skills of young women in Aurora,” said Janice Baez, who is now a rising freshman at Aurora University. “The EWF Club educates and empowers girls of all ages in School District 129 in age-appropriate topics and opportunities, developing educational and career connections, improving mental health, and much more.”
The grant provided by the Aurora Women’s Empowerment foundation will be used to fund and promote the EWF Club’s “Lunch and Learns” for 100 high school girls each month, covering a full range of topics from career and skill development to period poverty and emotional health. The grant will also fund the purchase of motivational books and bracelet supplies EWF club members will use in mentoring over 300 area elementary school girls. Lastly, grant funds are also earmarked for helping club members fund career skill training and certifications, such as online STEM and youth leadership programs, as well as internships. “Many internships for high school students are unpaid,” said Terri Shepard, West Aurora High School teacher and EWF Sponsor. “If students need to help their families economically or support themselves, they will gravitate to minimum wage jobs that do not develop future career skills. Young women may also need transportation and clothing to serve as interns which we will now be able to provide them through this grant.”
“Our board members enjoyed learning about the EWF Club’s numerous accomplishments over the past couple of years,” said Baudouin. “The educational experiences they’ve provided empower and uplift girls and young women AND combat racial inequity while promoting pathways to economic empowerment. We are excited to see the extraordinary impact of their work this coming school year.”
For the 2021/2022 school year, EWF Club co-presidents will be Mariella Acevedo and Melissa Flores, who are already busy preparing club activities and events. Those interested in learning more about the EWF club can contact Terri Shepard at email@example.com.