Macy’s and Girls Inc. are inspiring girls from all backgrounds to take the lead and change the world.
Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.
Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.
Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.
Photo courtesy of Macy's
Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.
Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.
Who runs the world? Girls!
As a kid, Jamel Holmes knew he wanted to be a teacher. He would spend rainy days giving spelling tests and playing math games with other children in his apartment building in New York's South Bronx.
But throughout elementary school, Holmes never had a teacher who looked like him. It wasn't until seventh grade that he had his first Black male teacher—Mr. Emdin. In some ways, he was lucky. Nearly 80% of teachers in the U.S. are white, and many Americans go their entire educations without having even one non-white teacher.
Teachers of color make a difference, which is why education nonprofit DonorsChoose has teamed up with The Allstate Foundation to support them. According to research from Johns Hopkins University and American University, having at least one Black teacher in grades three through five reduces the likelihood of Black students dropping out of high school by up to 39% and increases the likelihood that students from low-income households will aspire to attend college. An analysis published in Education Next also found that Black teachers tend to have higher expectations of Black students, which contributes to greater success.
Diversity in teaching helps white students, too. Educational laboratory REL Northwest found that white students with non-white teachers develop better problem-solving and critical thinking skills, expand their range of creativity and social and emotional skills, and increase their sense of civic engagement.
A joint initiative from DonorsChoose and The Allstate Foundation offers individuals and groups opportunities to help bridge racial gaps in the classroom. For one, The Allstate Foundation will match all donations to teachers of color who are using DonorsChoose to crowdfund projects for the first time. DonorsChoose has also partnered with The Allstate Foundation to launch a Racial Justice and Representation category on the site, making it easy for donors to help fund classroom projects focused on increasing diversity in curricula and creating a more inclusive environment. From buying books written by diverse authors to providing materials for anti-racism education, donors can directly support teachers working toward racial equity.
"Achievement soars when students see their identities reflected in both their teachers and learning material," said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. "Research also shows that too many students of color and students from low-income households enter classrooms without enough books, technology and supplies. By creating this new category on DonorsChoose, we want to support these students and give voice to their teachers, tapping their frontline wisdom."
In addition to matching donations to teachers of color using DonorsChoose for the first time, The Allstate Foundation will also match every donation to projects in the Racial Justice and Representation category, up to a total of $1.5 million. You can see those projects here.
Jamel Holmes did grow up to become a teacher. He earned a master's degree and now teaches special education for sixth graders at East Bronx Academy for the Future, the same school he attended. Holmes uses DonorsChoose to help his students get what they need both inside and outside school. He has crowdfunded technology tools for his classroom as well as personal care items for his students. He drives through the Bronx to give school supplies, clothing, laundry essentials and food to kids whose families are in need, and even takes students to get free haircuts. He wants to be a role model students can turn to.
Courtesy of Jamel Holmes
"As I think about Black male teachers ... there are not many of us," Holmes says. "We bring more than just the academics, the curriculum, pedagogy … [we bring] real life experience in which we can relate to our students well beyond the classroom."
Schools are charged with providing a safe, nurturing and equitable environment for students and teachers. Supporting educators who are trying to create that environment by helping fund their racial equity projects is a good place to start.
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Military spouses often choose their spouse's career over their own. This organization is changing that.
When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."
"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.
The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.
"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."
Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.
Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.
Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.
She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.
Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.
Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.
"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."
"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.
Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.
"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.
"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."
"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."
"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."
"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."
Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.
She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.
That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."
Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."
To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!
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