Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation Makes Grant Possible
Sitting in front left to right: Kali Klapheck, Kayla Sanchez, Parker Smith. Standing left to right: Lavender Bean, Ms. Mayra Rios, Ms. Terri Shepard, Barbie Nunez
AURORA, IL, USA, October 28, 2022. The Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation (AWEF), a board-directed nonprofit foundation supporting other nonprofits engaged in female empowerment work in Aurora, announced that it has awarded A+ Foundation a five-year grant to fund West Aurora High School’s Empowered Women of the Future (EWF) Club.
“Last school year was the first year we funded the Empowered Women of the Future Club and we were both delighted and impressed by their results,” said Amy Baudouin, Board Chair for the Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation. “The students and teacher sponsors launched creative mentoring and career development programs and provided life-changing support, education, and guidance to female students at West Aurora High School, as well as girls from local grammar and middle schools. They also collaborated with other nonprofits and businesses and together they were able to all expand their reach and impact. We want this club, like so many boys and girls high school sports clubs, to be able to build off their successes each year and we are passionately committed to the EWF Club mission.”
The Empowered Women of the Future Club’s continuing mission empowers, uplifts, and changes the lives of girls and young women through providing education and experiences that motivate them to aspire to meet their potentials, develop their unique voices, prepare for career development, give back to the community by mentoring younger girls, and realize the power they hold to create positive change in the community.
EWF Club members have already successfully launched their 2022/2023 plan for education, equity, and change. Among the club’s top priorities include: 1) conduct lunch and learns for more than 100 high school girls per month with mentors, panels, educational and career avenues, social/emotional learning, and racial equity discussions; 2) have high school students facilitate mentoring sessions with at least 200 girls in elementary and middle schools to develop their ambitions, dreams, and voices; 3) explore career options and develop skills through field trips, community trainings, camps, and internships; and 4) promote and fund EWF Club member scholarship opportunities (also made possible through the AWEF grant).
EWF student leaders for the current school year include co-presidents Kali Klapheck and Kayla Sanchez. The club’s teacher co-sponsors are Terri Shepard and Mayra Rios. The EWF Club was founded in 2019 by Janice Baez, who is currently studying Political Science and Social Work at Aurora University.
EWF students speak to the club’s impact. Said Parker Smith, “EWF club has helped me with developing leadership and community. I love how the club gets people involved and brings women from all backgrounds together with a common goal—empowering women.” Barbie Nunez noted, “EWF has helped me become a leader and realize my worth.”
Na’Taiya Jemmott participates in the EWF Club because “it helps me feel like I have my own voice where other people understand me.” Added Nevaeh Coleman, “I’m a very quiet person, so being in this club gives me courage to speak up and share what’s on my mind.”
Kali Klapheck and Kayla Sanchez
Mayra Rios and Terri Shepard
Mayra Rios, EWF Teacher Co-Sponsor, said “EWF has allowed me to connect with students outside of the classroom and see them grow and achieve amazing goals they set for themselves thanks to the support of this program.”
Terri Shepard, EWF Teacher Co-Sponsor, added, “Just like the Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation, the EWF’s mission is to empower girls of all ages, races, ethnicities and income levels to feel respected and valued as the activities nurture them to reach their fullest potential. It’s so important to elevate young women and girls at crossroads early in life and we are incredibly grateful to AWEF for their long-term support of the EWF Club at West Aurora High School.”
About the Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation…
The Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation mission is to elevate and empower Aurora-area women and future women by making grants to tax-exempt nonprofits engaged in meaningful, measurable work that helps women over the hurdles of inequity and exclusion, propelling them forward with life-changing programs and services. For more information about grants made by AWEF, including our grant guidelines and online application, visit awe-foundation.org.
About the West Aurora High School’s Empowered Women of the Future (EWF) Club and A+ Foundation…
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. 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 more.
A+ Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports and assists students and staff and raises money to enhance the opportunities of the students and staff of School District 129. The goals of the A+ Foundation are to enrich the curriculum of West Aurora School District 129, inspire excellence in students and staff, expand opportunities for community involvement and foster alumni connections.
Those interested in learning more about the EWF Club can contact the club’s teacher co-sponsors Terri Shepard at email@example.com or Mayra Rios at firstname.lastname@example.org.