By Kennedy Rupert
Last week, the girls Building Economic Success Together (girlsBEST) committee held its biannual meeting at Centro Tyrone Guzman, the oldest and largest multi-service Latino organization in Minneapolis, and a grantee-partner of the Women’s Foundation since 2015. We gathered as a committee to review grants and make grant recommendations to fund programs driven by and led by girls, ages 12 to 18, to increase readiness to achieve economic well-being. It was a great opportunity for the committee members to be updated on current girlsBEST grantee-partners and to see the community leaders at Centro in action.
I’ve been on the girlsBEST Committee for two years now, and I’ve loved attending every committee meeting. I get to meet and learn from the most amazing and inspiring women and girls. And while there are administrative tasks to cover each meeting, the bulk of our time is spent understanding the experiences, challenges, and opportunities facing young women in Minnesota. One aspect that makes girlsBEST powerful is that each grant can be awarded for up to three years. By funding organizations for multiple years, they are better equipped to make a sustainable and lasting impact with participants, as shown in the 2018 girlsBEST longitudinal study, “Building the Economic Power of Girls Works.”
This meeting was really special for me because it was the first time that I had the opportunity to chair an entire meeting. While I had the support of committee co-chair and Women’s Foundation trustee Tawanna Black, I was both thrilled to be asked and nervous that I would forget something. As the Women’s Foundation celebrates its 35 year anniversary this year, we embraced our collective drive to #ChangeCulture with an icebreaker activity. We asked everyone to share their thoughts on how each of us can #ChangeCulture and become catalysts for change. Some of the most memorable answers to this question were: “speaking my truth,” “being kind,” and “motivating women to vote.”
Before we began the grant review process, we revisited the girlsBEST Theory of Change. For each grant we focused on four aspects of their work that we recognize as pillars of socioeconomic mobility for women: academic, career preparation, community, and entrepreneurship. Because this meeting focused on renewing grants for current grantee-partners, we also reviewed each organization’s past accomplishments, lessons learned, description of how funds were used, organizational updates, examples of programs, and, inspirational stories.
In order to make grant decisions, we use Dotmocracy, a system by which a group makes a decision using colored dots! We hung huge sheets of paper around the room for every organization, and we placed either red, green or yellow dots on the sheets. The green dots mean “Yes!,” the yellow dots mean “I have questions,” and the red dots mean “I have big concerns.” The dots helped generate a rich discussion about the work each organization is leading with their communities across Minnesota.
The best part of the meeting was getting to hear from our hosts at Centro. We heard from a panel of girls who are a part of Centro’s Jóvenes Latinas al Poder program. One of the girls talked about artivism and how the practice of making art to create change is important to her. This was so cool for me to hear especially because my answer to the #ChangeCulture question was “being an activist artist.” Hearing the girls share their own stories and the impact of the program on their lives was heartwarming and inspiring. Afterwards, we took a tour of Centro Tyrone Guzman to see all of the beautiful artwork, including the breathtaking murals around the building that tell the story of their work and culture. Be sure to check out the Facebook album capturing our photos and statements about how we #ChangeCulture.
We started our meeting talking about how we can change culture, but the great thing about the girlsBEST committee is that we are not just talking about changing culture. By supporting girl-led, girl-driven programming that is building the economic power of girls throughout Minnesota, we are doing it!
Kennedy Rupert is a junior at Blake, and a member of the girlsBEST committee – a community of leadership donor-partners and girl leaders invited by the Women’s Foundation to participate in grantmaking to build the capacity of girls to achieve economic well-being and overcome systematic barriers.