In 2014, when Melissa Michaels was flying home to the Rocky Mountains after working in East and South Africa, she woke up to the fact that there is a Golden Bridge needed to be built between the privileged US college students and the brilliant young Pan-African women seeking education, some of whom are now Leaders in Golden Girls Global (GGG).
Imagine if each one of the 10 million women currently enrolled in US colleges contributed $10/year to help fund education for their sisters around the world. $100,000,000 could be raised without a heavy lift from any one sector. We have seen these models work. And within Golden Girls Global, we are thoughtfully working our way towards this goal, and more.
Today, there are 130 million girls out of school worldwide. As we know, when girls are not offered educational opportunities, poverty, gender discrimination, early marriage and young motherhood are a few of the classic outcomes. We also know that when girls are given opportunities to study and develop themselves, they move into the world with greater confidence. They become more capable of making positive choices along with intrinsically strengthening the economies of their communities. Most girls and women naturally bring seeds of peace into all spheres of their leadership.
Our collective sisterhood requires that we create pathways for as many young women to access relevant educational opportunities as possible. The dichotomy between those who are seeking to discover what to study and those who are seeking the opportunity to simply study is unconscionable.
We are not yet ready for $100,000,000.00, but we are ready for $100,000.00.
Golden Girls Global has organically been building bridges to help make education not just a dream but a reality for those in our immediate sphere. This transformative work was recently recognized when Melissa was honored with the Douvan Alumni Award for Human Development and Social Justice, an award given to selected Fielding doctoral graduates from the School of Leadership Studies, whose projects center feminist scholarship and practice, human development, and support for those on the margins of society. As recognized by the Douvan Award, our Golden Girls Global Go To School team is not only working to access the funding for our sisters/siblings to continue with their studies, but we are also working to create holistic support for the overall educational experience of each young woman.
At this time, there are 11 emerging leaders from around the world who are actively engaged in their high school, undergraduate, and master’s level studies.
In South Africa alone, there are 4 Golden Girls Global emerging leaders pursuing their high school education. With our energetic support, financial backing, and the attuned mentoring of the accomplished Golden Girls Global Leader, Xoli Fuyani (Founder of Black Girls Rising), each girl is receiving an integrative and comprehensive high school education (https://www.curro.co.za/).This will then pave the way for each of these young leaders to then receive a full, free, and relevant college education at The Africa Leadership Academy based in Pretoria, South Africa. Together, they are forming a strong community, a movement of girls going to school and actualizing their dreams. They are recognizing the power and dignity of who they are regardless of what they eat for lunch or where they come from. They recognize that there are no limits to where they can go.
As we know, it is not enough to offer a girl a scholarship and then expect her to thrive in a school system designed to serve financially privileged children. We strive to support these girls in a holistic way so that they can take full advantage of the opportunities being offered. This includes: psycho-spiritual mentoring, peer support, parent involvement, academic tutoring, computer and internet access, menstrual health supplies, safe transport, and healthy lunches.