Who Runs The World? Urban Girls!

Jil Littlejon
President & Chief Executive Officer, Urban League of the Upstate, Inc.

Twitter:  @JilLittlejohn 

Who Runs The World? Urban Girls!

Do Black girls rock? Yes, they do! Do Black girls in the Upstate face systemic barriers that keep their talent from shining through? Yes, they do. As a result, The Urban League of the Upstate has dedicated itself to assisting these young women who are at high risk for school failure.

The Urban League of the Upstate has made its mark as a leading provider of out-of-school programs for youth at risk of school failure. Our agency has positioned itself as a resource for young women who are eager to do the hard work necessary to break cycles of poverty and low educational attainment. With this in mind, the Urban League of the Upstate created the Urban Girls Rock Summer Leadership Camp. This new initiative is part of our agency's signature Project Ready program, which helps to prepare youth for post-secondary success with educational support, SAT/ACT prep, college tours, and college and financial aid application assistance.

The barriers these young women face go far beyond academics. Young African-American women need leadership development and an enhanced sense of their value and critical importance in our community. They also need the tools to deal with the daily challenges all young women face. In an effort to tackle this problem holistically, the Urban League of the Upstate has aligned duel efforts—one focused on providing an intensive experience for young people during the summer and the other designed to provide similar opportunities outside of schools within the academic year.

Our efforts have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated on social media. The future rock stars of our Urban Girls Rock Camp have helped to increase our social media presence and have also used digital platforms to share their camp experience, including YouTube videos and digital photography.

Urban Girls Rock Camp raises the expectations of young women so they can envision the next three steps in their lives: high school graduation, college enrollment, and college completion. We believe that empowering these young women to envision and plan for their future makes the manifestation of that future more likely. Our curriculum offers practical tools and strategies to reach their goals and offers them personal interactions and mentoring opportunities with women who rock in their own fields as judges, lawyers, doctors, professors, or entrepreneurs.

To quote comedienne and actor, Amanda Seales, "Time and time again/ We find the ways and means/ Between packing lunches, planning launches, and patting weaves/ To get information/ And stay in formation!" Urban girls rock! And we are committed to ensuring that they have the necessary resources and support systems to uncover their talents and share them with the world.