The BGG is committed to empowering women of color of all ages. For us, we know that this means we must start early in ensuring our young women of color know that they belong, they are valued, and they matter.
We are excited to announce that we have partnered with SPEAK Mentorship to be a youth mentoring partner for The BGG community! Speak Mentorship specifically focuses on multigenerational and multicultural leadership development. Read more below to find out more about the SPEAK mentorship program If you are interested in becoming a mentor for this great organization sign-up directly here.
“This program gave me something productive to be a part of and a sense of responsibility. I wanted to experience that. It also pushed me and gave me a space to learn how to be comfortable talking to others regardless of age or status; something I knew I eventually had to overcome.” Cristal Davidson had come in to the SPEAK Mentorship program as a student who understood that she had the potential to be a leader but had not yet had the opportunity to develop this potential. Far too often, girls and young women are not pushed to pursue leadership positions in different activities and they have difficulty seeing themselves as leaders without real and consistent encouragement. As a young woman from Guyana, the culture and language practiced at home was very different than what Cristal was experiencing in other environments. In explaining the impact of seeing her peers’ stories, Cristal said that “hearing stories about how being an immigrant has affected [peers] in America made me relate. They talked about language barriers, which got me thinking that I subconsciously had changed the way I spoke to be taken seriously or to be accepted. As a result of that I developed a bad habit of not being able to speak my own language unless I’m around someone I’m comfortable enough with or in a specific environment.” How do we give young women like Cristal the space to feel comfortable and confident about their full selves and to see that they too can be leaders?
SPEAK Mentorship aims to answer this question through using speakers and mentorship to show young women like Cristal that there are women who look like them who have already learned ways to bring their full selves to their personal and professional lives, and that if they can do it then so can she. Mentors provide these young women with the information they need to make their own informed choices about where they want to attend college and what career pathway would work best for the life they want to lead.
Our online mentoring program provides young women, like Cristal, with multiple exceptional mentors so that they can get in-depth looks at multiple jobs within a career field that interest them. Cristal’s mentors this past year worked for the New York Times, USAID, and VaynerMedia. Through one Mentoring Round of 9 video conferencing sessions, each mentor introduced Cristal to different jobs and skills within her career interest of journalism/media. Since two of the mentors shared a similar cultural background to Cristal, she was also able to explore her own identity and what it meant to be a Guyanese-American. Through working with her mentors, Cristal grew more comfortable speaking with adults, voicing her opinion, asking tough questions, and making decisions that made sense for her.
Since 2015, SPEAK Mentorship has been working to help girls and women lift each other up through a multigenerational and multicultural mentorship model that allows all individuals to access skills, knowledge, and networks to establish and pursue future goals with confidence. We are always seeking phenomenal women professionals to mentor the next generation of leaders like Cristal, who was our highest award recipient this year as the SPEAK Ambassador of the Year. Through SPEAK, Cristal has met political role models such as Cory Booker, Bill Pascrell, Tai Cooper and more She has proven, who have inspired her to become a social activist and a leader. She has proven that she is capable of becoming a leader and will continue to be a leader to others along the way. Cristal couldn’t have done this without mentors like you!