Since our founding, ESSENCE has made it a priority to pour into the next generation of young Black women. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce ESSENCE Girls United, our new mentoring initiative focused on helping girls 12 through 17 increase their academic potential, self-love and leadership skills.
“ESSENCE Girls United embodies our mission to serve Black women deeply,” says ESSENCE Chief Executive Officer Michelle Ebanks. “We are committed to the empowerment and celebration of dynamic young women and girls, with a goal of inspiring and spotlighting a new generation of world leaders.”
ESSENCE Girls United extends our mission to serve a multigenerational audience globally as a 100% Black-owned company across its platforms through content, culture and community. We will be meeting our girls wherever they are. This multi-platform program will feature year-round video, digital and social content that will focus on core pillars, including: “Owning Your Power,” “Presenting with Confidence,” “Developing Brand You,” “Finding Your Voice,” “Making a Difference In Your Community,” “Life Skills 101,” and “Self-Love.” The initiative will also feature workshops and conversations with thought leaders, a social network directory for girls to interact with each other, a mentorship program, a leadership development “tool kit,” events such as the upcoming ESSENCE Girls United Summit and much more.
We know the stakes for our youth are high, and we’re committed to ensuring that their opportunities are even greater. Black children are punished at higher rates in schools, with Black girls at the greatest risk of being suspended or expelled for nonviolent actions in comparison to girls in other racial groups. And once suspended, young women are more likely to drop out, according to the 2014 report Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected by the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School.
The good news is, our voices can shape a generation. It’s not reality shows or pop culture that will play the largest role in the choices our youth make—it’s us. Power to Decide, a national organization educating teens on safe sex, points out that trusted adults play a critical role in guiding our girls. We are the village. We are ESSENCE Girls United.
As part of the initiative, ESSENCE and Ulta Beauty will join forces to co-produce ESSENCE Girls United: Beautiful Possibilities. This exciting six-part web series will use digital and social content to create a deeper connection with young Black women. The web series will include a search to discover six young women who will then embark on a journey to discover their personal potential and elevate their entrepreneurial spirit all within the beauty industry. Each young woman will have a chance to participate in an opportunity of a lifetime, including: helping to create a limited-time collection for Ulta Beauty; mentorship by ESSENCE and Ulta Beauty brand leaders and more. ESSENCE Girls United: Beautiful Possibilities is open nationally to girls ages 16-19.
For more on ESSENCE Girls United pick up the November issue of ESSENCE or join the conversation on social @Essence