Local 'Step Up Women's Network' group mentors teenage girls, showing spirit of giving

June 6, 2013 3:32:55 PM PDT
Inner-city mentoring programs often focus on boys because of the many problems young men can face.

One local group, however, has focused its efforts solely on girls, saying that they too need role models to set them on a path to success. It's how the Step Up Women's Network shows its "Spirit of Giving."

The national non-profit with a Chicago group brings together professional women to mentor girls in under-served communities.

"Our teen girls are put into teen empowerment classes after school and on Saturdays and our professional women... they're there for role modeling, mentoring, to help teen girls see the opportunities that are available to them in a variety of different careers," said Cassandra Gaddo of Step Up Women's Network.

Mentors say the girls come to rely on them for guidance.

"They start asking questions, no matter how small, like, 'What is college like?' -- to, 'What should I do?' -- but they eventually start opening up and talking about their fears and their passions and their goals," said business analyst and mentor Naana Grant-Acquah.

Some students at Muchin College Prep say the relationships give them the boost they need as they look forward to next step.

"It's just always like a sexist thing, like your brother can go out to college and then you can stay in-state because you're a girl, but Step Up helps me become more confident in being a girl and going out of state, which is next year," said Muchin College Prep student Aminata Bah.

"I was this shy little girl who never actually experienced talking to a lot of people, and now that I'm in Step Up, I am so proud," said Muchin College Prep student Julissa Gonzalez. "I'm really excited every time I go into Step Up class."

Step Up Women's Network is looking for more career women to volunteer as mentors.

They say a commitment can be as little as once a year or as often as several times a week.

Teen empowerment page on Step Up Women's Network's web site


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