Boston GLOW IGNITE Change Leadership Contest Honors Ten High School Leaders for Creating Community Change for Girls
Media Contact: Emily Copeman
May 18, 2015, Boston MA - Fifty guests gathered at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Boston on Monday, May 18th to award over $12,000 in educational scholarships and prizes to the ten finalists of the IGNITE Change Leadership Contest, sponsored annually by Boston Girls’ Leadership, Organized Women (Boston GLOW).
In its fifth year, the IGNITE Change Leadership Contest is the primary initiative of the organization’s Girls’ Leadership programming arm. Girls aged 13-19 are asked to identify what they would like to see change for girls and women in their community, city or school. Along with an essay putting forth an actionable plan for change, contestants must submit a project plan and detailed budget describing how they would use a $1,000 grant from Boston GLOW to implement their proposed plan. The ten finalists are chosen by a panel of female leaders in Boston across a range of professions and disciplines.
“The goal of the IGNITE Change contest is to challenge young women to go beyond simply noticing community issues and inequalities to thinking critically about how they can use their voice, network and community to create tangible change,” explains Boston GLOW Founder, Leah Moschella. “As we enter our fifth year of programming, we continue to be in awe of the ideas put forth by high school-aged girls. Each year they challenge our expectations with innovative ideas to empower their female peers.”
The 2015 IGNITE Change Finalists developed thorough plans covering a myriad of community issues facing young women. Winning project ideas this year included a Girls Coding Course and Hackathon to promote STEM careers for women; healthy eating cooking lessons for low-income communities; creating a Zine to promote feminist characters in fantasy; and entrepreneurial courses designed to teach young women that they can be “the boss.”
“We begin the contest with a series of workshops in the fall geared toward first helping Girl Leaders articulate the issues they see for women in their communities, then working with them to further develop their ideas for inspiring change,” explained AC Gaughen, Director of Girls Leadership programming for Boston GLOW. “The goal of this process is to teach leadership skills through self-expression, project management, realistic financial planning and to build confidence within these aspiring leaders.”
This year’s finalists were awarded educational scholarships, iPads and a plethora of other tools and prizes to further their development as leaders. Further, all ten IGNITE Change Finalists will now have the opportunity to pitch their project to a panel of judges. The winner of the second stage of the IGNITE Change Leadership Contest will receive an additional $4,000 scholarship and a chance to implement her community change project over the course of the 2015-2016 year with the support of a community of Boston women.
“The ideas that have come from these young women are incredibly inspiring and we are eager to support them in developing the leadership skills necessary to make their plans a reality,” said Gaughen. “We want to empower them to know that having an idea is an incredible first step, but even at a young age, with just a few resources, they can actually make a positive impact on their community.”
The ten 2015 IGNITE Change Finalists were chosen by a community of professional women who evaluated creativity, feasibility and potential impact. The contest drew applicants and finalists from 14-17 years old across a diverse group of neighborhoods including Dorchester, West Roxbury, Roslindale, and Cambridge. “Our goal is to create a community of powerful young female leaders. We believe that when these young women come together they can share their ideas and continue to empower one another” explained Moschella.
“This is the most thrilling night of the year for us as an organization. Many of these girls have never been recognized for expressing their individual voices or their hopes for the future,” said Crystal Torman, Associate Director of Girls Leadership Programming. “They light up when their names are called and are elated, along with their families, when the scholarship prizes are announced. Watching them then enjoy a dinner with their peers and GLOW mentors is just the icing on the cake.”
The 2015 Boston GLOW IGNITE Change Contest Finalists are Johanna Abrams, 17 of Cambridge; Denada Bukiaski, 15 of Roslindale; Emily Chan, 16 of Cambridge; Mei Mei Collins, 14 of Somerville; Jaccarea Garraway, 17 of Dorchester; Eliza Klein, 18 of Cambridge; Amelia Kroner, 16 of Cambridge; Douna Offre, 17 of Cambridge; Rebecca Sadock, 17 of Cambridge; and Yinyu Yi, 15 of West Roxbury.
About Boston GLOW
Boston GLOW empowers girls and women to confidently use their voices and become leaders in our communities. Girls' Leadership seeks to empower teen girls in the Greater Boston area by building a community focused around educational encouragement, social discussion and cultural enrichment through mentoring, programming and other opportunities for young women aged 13-19.Boston GLOW’s Organized Women (OW) engages and inspires a network of young professionals at monthly, topical events and in numerous service opportunities that will help them reach their full potential. This dual approach has established a nurturing support system for tomorrow’s leaders, assembled a core of enthusiastic volunteers, and has affected measurable and meaningful results throughout the Boston area.
Victoria Sandbrook Flynn
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Young Women Ignite Change with Support from Boston GLOW
Boston, MA, January 6, 2014 – Nearly a year ago, young women from Boston, Cambridge, Roxbury and Somerville proposed programs to change the role of women in their communities as part of the Boston GLOW IGNITE Change Leadership Contest. Nine finalists were chosen, to receive scholarships and grand prize winner Huixian Li, 18, of Charlestown, MA, received the additional funding to begin planning an inspiring mural for the women of Chinatown. Her fellow finalists did not just accept their accolades and prizes—they set to work on putting their ideas into action too.
Boston Latin School junior Ciara Sheeran, 16, of Brighton, MA, proposed funding a softball team on the Allston-Brighton Little League for 10- to 12-year-old girls from low-income neighborhoods. Playing sports, Ms. Sheeran notes, “gives [girls] a competitive edge that they need in school, for getting into college, and that they will need in the workplace.” In April, her plan was honored with other IGNITE Change 2013 entries, and over the coming months, she worked with the West End House Boys & Girls Club to sign the new team up with the league. Under the direction of a coach from the West End House, Ms. Sheeran volunteered her own time to help train the girls. They resume practice this spring.
Heidi Park, 17, of Roslindale, MA, is also a junior at Boston Latin. She proposed a club empowering girls through opportunities to perform music in small ensemble groups. A chamber music night organized by a teacher “put two things together,” said Ms. Park. “If there are people willing to perform, why not take [the music] to a different audience?” Since April, she has founded Music ALOUD, a club that performs at homeless shelters, hospitals, elementary schools, and more. Ms. Park also foresees a time when the club will also support open-mic time to engage the audiences directly in the joy of performing music.
In a few short months, Boston GLOW will announce the fourth cohort of finalists, empowering a new wave of young women. Ten young women will receive more than $13,000 in scholarships; three will also win tablet computers, and one winner will receive a $1,000 grant to fund her proposed project. But for young women like Ms. Sheeran, the opportunity is far bigger: “[Boston GLOW] showed me that even at my age, I am able to do a lot more in my community and it’s possible for people to look up to me. And that was very empowering.” Funding for the IGNITE Change Leadership Contest and other Girls’ Leadership programming is primarily raised at Boston GLOW’s annual IGNITE the NITE Gala, which is taking place at the Artists for Humanity’s EpiCenter on February 27, 2014 at 7pm. Ms. Li, Ms. Sheeran, and Ms. Park will all be featured in the gala’s centerpiece video.
For more information about IGNITE Change, IGNITE the NITE, and other Boston GLOW programs, contact Victoria Sandbrook Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Boston GLOW
Boston GLOW empowers girls and women to confidently use their voices and become leaders in our communities. Girls’ Leadership (GL) identifies and rewards motivated young women who possess powerful ideas through scholarship, micro-grant, and mentoring programs. Boston GLOW’s Organized Women (OW) engages and inspires a network of professionals at monthly, issue-focused events and in numerous service opportunities that help them reach their full potential. This dual approach has established a nurturing support system for tomorrow’s leaders, assembled a core of enthusiastic volunteers, and has already affected measurable and meaningful results throughout the Boston area.
About IGNITE the NITE
Boston GLOW’s fourth annual gala, IGNITE the NITE, will be held at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter in South Boston on February 27, 2014 at 7pm. The night will feature signature dishes from Tavern Road, El Pelon, and Gourmet Caterers; cocktails highlighting local brewers and distilleries; a silent auction with items ranging from hotel packages to dinner at Boston’s best restaurants; and more! Tickets are currently on sale at bostonglow.org. Advance price tickets are available until January 15 and start at $60; after January 15, tickets start at $75. All event proceeds benefit Boston GLOW’s Girls’ Leadership programming, including the 2014 IGNITE Change Leadership Contest.