Tuesday, November 23, 2004
The group New Frontier: Women and Girls is looking for a few good women.
The women's organization, which is a grass-roots group that sprung from local women's involvement in The Women's Foundation of Colorado, is starting a new mentoring project.
Women's Foundation Trustee Valerie Lee said the idea for the mentoring program came from a financial seminar the organization hosted for high school girls. At the seminar, girls told the group it would be beneficial to have women in the community as career mentors.
The mentoring would occur for one or two years and match one to three high school girls with women in careers they are interested in, whether the mentor be a doctor, lawyer, hairdresser, veterinarian or real estate agent.
Through the relationships, the group hopes that girls will gain real-life experiences and understanding of what education is needed to get the job and how long it could take to get to the position the mentor has, Lee said.
"They want to know how you make the right choices to get there," Lee said.
The mentor program also might show girls that career paths do not always follow a direct route. Lee said many women in town did not study for or start in the job they love today.
"It is a really good way to find out it is not always the first job you get right out of college that sets you on fire and will be something you will do for the rest of your life," Lee said. "We (traditionally) train them to believe the first job is the only job and what they study in college is what they should continue to study or pick a career on."
Women's Foundation Trustee Linda Hamlet also said having women mentor high school students allows the girls to see what the reality of a job is versus the dream.
A $12,100 grant from the statewide Women's Foundation will go toward the mentoring program and other projects the group is doing in Northwest Colorado.
New Frontiers: Women and Girls plans to take its educational programs beyond what was done under the Women's Foundation umbrella. The group is working on a fund-raising campaign that will involve a three-year pledge commitment, which will allow the group to plan for programs in the future and not worry about how to fund them.
In the past few years and with the help of the Women's Foundation, the group has sponsored the annual Girls to Women -- Women to Girls Conference for eighth-grade girls. It also has presented two Power Point presentations, one on Women and Wages and the other on Power at the Polls, to community organizations and high school girls.
The group has worked with Yampa Valley Partners to break out area statistics separating men and women. In 2003, the group launched a public awareness campaign about gender equality issues.
"We are looking to have people realize we are out there, doing this program. We are really looking to have participation from the community," Hamlet said.
The Women's Foundation has given the community $60,000 to help make systematic changes for women and girls. That money has been leveraged dollar for dollar by the community, Hamlet said. The Yampa Valley Community Foundation is the financial agent for the group.
Part of the group's goal is to make a measurable increase in the number of college applications submitted by girls, a decrease in teenage pregnancy and an increased awareness of women's issues.
"We want to see the needle indicator move in the positive direction," Hamlet said.
Anyone interested in participating in the mentoring program or becoming involved in New Frontiers: Women and Girls can reach Lee online at firstname.lastname@example.org.