Since 1995, we have worked with young folks who identify as girls. In the absence of true equity and inclusion in our society, it is vital that we can create spaces for communities of color to heal, regenerate, and build harmonious relationships. Powerful Voices is an organization that works in allyship with girls of color to navigate the societal and structural violence that affects their daily lives. We have been successful because we co-create solutions with girls and we introduce them to positive girl culture and celebrate sisterhood. We support girls in getting hands-on skills and experience for career readiness, encourage them to learn more about identity and healthy relationships, practice how to build community with peers and adults, and guide them towards resources and tools that they can use to create a more just society.
For two decades, we have centered girls of color by providing them with a social justice curriculum that elevates their leadership and focuses on social-emotional learning. We have worked at the intersection of girl justice and social justice since 1995. We tackled social justice issues and talked about institutional racism long before it was the zeitgeist and part of mainstream conversations. Thus, we have always sought to push the boundaries around what it uniquely means to be a girl, and to value and honor girls’ experiences. We want to create a Powerful Voices community that can call for a more just society, that calls out institutional and systems-level oppression and seeks to uplift girls of color.
As we have evolved to be a social justice organization that focuses on girls, it is clear to us that we cannot provide temporary one-off programs. We seek to ensure that girls have opportunities for community engagement, activism, and advocacy. We believe that to affect larger systems change, we all must become more civically engaged citizens, dedicated to not just raising awareness, but also engaging in targeted advocacy on social justice issues.
Our staff role model leadership and advocacy skills for girls so they can see healthy models of women power. We work with girls to strengthen and use their voices by ensuring that they have tangible skills (e.g., facilitation and team building) and opportunities for leadership (e.g., girl-panels and speaking engagements). Girls want to talk about inequities in our society – from online bullying, to police brutality, and what it means to be a girl of color. These are complex and powerful conversations, and we don’t want the conversation to end when our girls’ groups end. Instead, we want to girls to continue the conversation with our community, whether that means at a social justice rally, in their classroom, or in front of a group of decision-makers. At Powerful Voices, we seek to center youth voices and we are intentional and strategic about how to uplift girls as leaders.