Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation Makes Grant Possible

 ALIVE Aurora, 78 S. LaSalle Street in Aurora

AURORA, IL, USA, February 17, 2023. “We have been so impressed with the collaborative spirit and depth and breadth of the leadership and empowerment programs at the ALIVE Aurora teen center, that we wanted to show our continued support with a multi-year grant,” said Amy Baudouin, Board Chair, Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation (AWEF). “We believe in the power of ALIVE’s youth leadership model and the crucial role it plays in empowering Aurora girls to reach their highest potentials by helping them discover and value their true selves.”

ALIVE Aurora’s programs are free to all students grades 6-12 Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 6 pm and Fridays from 3 to 7 pm after school and over the summer to encourage leadership, promote success in school, teach effective coping skills, and foster human connections between teens from all races and ethnicities. The girl empowerment programs align closely with the mission of AWEF to elevate and empower women and future women, especially those who reside in under-resourced communities or come from lower income and single parent families.

Amy Baudouin

Kandice Henning

“This generous multi-year grant allows us to ensure the ongoing success of these free programs for girls in Aurora for years to come, inspiring them to tap into their passions, connect with their peers, gain new knowledge, and learn to lead, all in a safe, supportive, and fun environment,” said Kandice Henning, Founder and CEO at ALIVE.  “While our programs are open to all, we hope to provide this type of environment as an additional option for after school activities to the over 13 percent of Aurora families living in poverty.”

The girl-focused programs offered at the ALIVE Aurora include Dare to Be Rare Girl Empowerment Club, Girl’s STEM programs focused on Engineering, Computer Science, and Coding, as well as Summer STEM Camps. All are designed and led by girls to leverage the power of ALIVE’s peer-to-peer mentoring model. ALIVE also offers access to free mentoring and tutoring from older high school teens and local university students.

“In just over a year of having a location in Aurora, we’ve seen wonderful growth in our Teen-Led, Teen-Driven programming and we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with other nonprofits to reach even more Aurora girls young women,” said Ady Rubio, Drop-in Manager at the ALIVE location in Aurora. Ady received the 2023 Donna K. Williams MLK Service Award from The City of Aurora. She is a bi-lingual Aurora native who is living her dream of opening an ALIVE Center in Aurora since completing her internship at ALIVE while finishing her master’s degree. Ady is an Aurora University Graduate and a licensed MSW Social Worker.

Students who participate in ALIVE’s programs do better in school, stay in school longer, and have greater expectations for their future. According to the AfterSchool Alliance, today’s teens face many challenges—drug and alcohol use, sex, obesity, self-esteem, mental health issues, pressure to perform, and more. The unsupervised hours after school from 3 pm to 7 pm is a crucial time when teens are most vulnerable. This is especially true for youth considered at-risk or come from low-income and single-parent families.

Ady Rubio

Current and upcoming free female-focused programs at ALIVE Aurora include:

Dare to Be Rare: This girls empowerment club is co-led by ALIVE Teen Leads Diana Rivera and Sam Serrano who attend West Aurora High School. The club is scheduled to run through April 19 and meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 4:30 to 5:30 pm. Girls attending, who range from 5th to 9th grade, learn about building confidence through discussions on topics such as healthy relationships, self-care, balance, goal setting, career exploration, and finding a sense of belonging within the community.

STEM programs: STEM programming is provided during regular Drop-in hours and through ALIVE’s summer STEM camps. Current programs include Robotics, Coding Basics, 3D Printing, as well as Digital Media and Marketing.

Free Your Mind: This club runs through April 19 and meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month from 4:30 to 5:30 pm. The club, led by Alexa Rodriguez from West Aurora High School and is for 5th—12th graders who want to de-stress and have special activities to meet others and share thoughts and experiences.

Microbiome Spooky Guts Workshop: This special Spring session will be led by Cara Jacob who attends the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, and shines the light on the importance of healthy living through a fun dive into mysterious microbiomes and gut health.

Other upcoming STEM-focused programs include a Summer STEM exploration camp and a technology-focused Art camp.

Parents in the community are always welcome to tour ALIVE Aurora as they schedule tours for teens and their families several times throughout the year.  Those interested in learning more about ALIVE Aurora can drop in Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 2:45 and 6 pm at 78 S. LaSalle Street, or connect with ALIVE at or call 630-778-6093.

About …

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

Centrally located inside the Community Christian Church on LaSalle in downtown Aurora, the ALIVE Aurora provides teens with a unique place to connect, discover and come alive! Our mission is to be a Teen-Led, Teen-DrivenTM (TLTD) center focused on empowering the youth of today to become the impassioned, resilient leaders of tomorrow. As a nonprofit organization, ALIVE offers free drop-in hours after school and over the summer as well as a myriad of programs, classes and events, designed to build confident and resilient teens.

On any given day at ALIVE one will find teen-led tutoring, mentoring and clubs as well as life skill classes such as unstructured art and dance, nutrition and healthy cooking, stress management, creative writing and just plain fun! ALIVE is a place to belong and learn important life skills.