Being a part of Green Dot’s Summer Institute for Business and Leadership (SIBL) was a life changing experience. When I learned about the opportunity to work with Green Dot over the summer, I thought it would be a great opportunity, but little did I know the true impact it would have on my growth both professionally and personally. SIBL was hosted at the University of Southern California (USC), and co-sponsored by key partners: USC, Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation, and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). SIBL empowered young women of color like me to develop passion and purpose through building an entrepreneurial mindset and skill set.
A New Summer Opportunity
I graduated from the second graduating class of Ánimo Ralph Bunche Charter High School in 2011, a time when I struggled to find extra-curricular activities. Fast forward to today, I’ve obtained a Masters of Social Work from USC and I’m now a social worker for the Department of Children and Family Services. I love seeing the progress Green Dot has made, especially in providing young women with opportunities to ignite their interests in fields that often seem out of reach. Seeing the enthusiasm in the young women while they discovered the many different layers and aspects of a business was breathtaking. The program provided real-world, project-based learning for students to take on the role of social entrepreneurs seeking to affect their global community.
Rising seniors Jaelyn Scott (Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School), Lauryn Madise (Ánimo Watts College Preparatory Academy), Yovanna Valero (Ánimo Leadership Charter High School), and Yurani Juarez (Ánimo Leadership Charter High School) established a company called Earth's Conservation Water Association (ECWA). ECWA is committed to encouraging environmentally responsible behaviors, to do this they proposed the creation of a product called the eCap, which screws onto faucets and showerheads to monitor water usage.
Students also participated in team building activities, panels with industry professionals, and structured lessons on the USC campus. It was important to build on Green Dot’s college-going culture and increase students’ exposure to college environments. Not only did SIBL allow the students to understand different aspects of themselves, but it also provided them a safe space in which they could emotionally connect with one another.
I found myself wondering if I would have been part of SIBL during high school, and if it would have impacted my trajectory in higher education. I saw and felt the excitement in these young women, to not only pursue higher education, but to apply the different aspects of what they were learning to their everyday life. For many of the young women it was the first time being exposed to the idea of being creators and using their passions to produce ideas that could better their communities and potentially the world.
This opportunity allowed me to grow by providing me the necessary tools to better understand and work with youth in a more understanding and empathetic manner. Each young woman brought a different experience, but I could relate and see myself in them. They not only taught me how to best understand them, but also inspired me to continue to keep up my own passion and strive for excellence in all I do.