America needs the full talent of all our people. Maintaining our nation’s competitive advantage means we can’t afford to leave anyone out or behind. Our success as a country depends on ensuring that all young people have a chance to reach their full potential.
President Obama created the White House Council on Women and Girls in the first months of his Presidency to ensure that every agency, department and office in the Federal Government takes into account the needs and aspirations of women and girls in every aspect of their work. We have made much progress as a country, but there is still much work to do to close opportunity gaps and barriers to success. Many of these challenges disproportionately affect women and girls.
In November, 2014, the Council on Women and Girls released a report, “Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity.” The Council is working to ensure that government policies appropriately consider these challenges and persistent opportunity gaps faced by too many girls and women from under-represented communities to ensure that everyone who aspires to get ahead has a chance to succeed. The President also recognizes that innovation comes from communities and is often sponsored by young people who notice problems and work with their schools, youth organizations, and even in start-ups to craft new solutions and fresh perspectives.
In September, the White House will recognize young women who are already leading and inspiring their communities as advocates, peer-mentors, artists, innovators, and entrepreneurs as Champions of Change.
The Champions of Change event will highlight new leaders. Many girls, including those from underrepresented communities, aspire to leadership. Many, in fact, already see themselves as problem-solvers, particularly in their families. But they may not always see themselves as leaders. By showcasing young women leading change in their communities and influencing others—while remaining themselves—this event will uplift their efforts and also inspire other young women to recognize that they too can engage leadership in their own way and in their own style.
These young leaders will have created programs, sponsored events, or created products that provide affirmative visibility and often the extra encouragement that enables girls to stay in school, honor their bodies and their minds, and reach higher by navigating pathways to college and careers. Each of these Champions appreciates that a struggling girl may be just one mentor away from success. Accordingly, we are interested in Champions who can also share their own stories of the teacher, coach, pastor, or relative who guided her and stimulated the ethic that true leadership occurs through service.
We’re calling on you to help us identify young women who are making a difference in their communities and leading the way by nominating individuals that make a positive difference in the lives of young women in the following categories:
Nominate a Champion of Change for Young Women Empowering Communities by Wednesday, July 29 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Click here to submit your nomination (be sure to select “Young Women Empowering Communities” as your theme of service).
Kimberlyn Leary is an Advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls.