Ann Cluxton, teacher and club advisor at Metea Valley High School, with Elevate: Educate and Empower club student board members, Jadyn Enas (right) and Madelyn Schotz (left)
AURORA, IL, USA, October 6, 2021. “We really enjoy getting behind programs that help 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 (AWEF). “The two programs we just funded through a grant to Indian Prairie Educational Foundation (IPEF)—Elevate: Educate and Empower and The Valley Runway—each make a unique contribution to the empowerment of females in Aurora.”
Elevate: Educate and Empower is a new empowerment club for the young women at Metea Valley High School. The Club meets bi-weekly to discuss topics related to personal development as well as health, exercise, and hygiene. Each month guest speakers from the community provide the girls encouragement along with strategies and tools for a strong and healthy future. Additionally, club members plan a day-long women’s empowerment event slated for spring of 2022. The grant from AWEF will help fund program expenses for materials and speakers, as well as the culminating spring event.
“This program is perfectly aligned to the mission of the Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation,” said Ann Cluxton, teacher and club advisor at Metea Valley High School. “It helps us establish an equal field of access to all young women at Metea Valley to gain strategies, bonds, friendships, and purpose.”
Ann is also the co-founder and teacher advisor for The Valley Runway program, which began in 2016. The program was initiated to ensure that all high school students in District 204 have the same opportunity to attend prom—a rite-of-passage experience that is not financially feasible for all. Said Ann, “Of the nearly 11,000 high school students in our district, 21% qualify for free or reduced lunch. There is no way these families can afford the staggering cost of prom.”
Through The Valley Runway program, students who can benefit from the program receive free formal gowns and accessories (that the students keep), as well as free prom tickets. The program helps battle inequity and exclusion by providing access and support to some of the district’s neediest students. The grant from AWEF helps fund the purchase of hard-to-fit sizes (that are not donated through the program’s yearly collection) as well as shoes, jewelry, purses, and a limited number of tuxedo rentals for of-need young men.