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Black women mentoring receives major investment


Chicago’s Polished Pebbles

By Kristina Dixon | Across Black America

Chicago-based Polished Pebbles is among the star-studded groups who were selected to receive funding from the Girls Opportunity Alliance Fund. 

Former First Lady Michelle Obama and the Girls Opportunity Alliance have announced a major investment in 14 grassroots organizations from her favorite city. From holistic healing programs and bullying prevention to holistic arts education for youth and adults and reproductive education, Chicago is beaming with Black communities organizations which are doing vital work to empower adolescent girls.

Chicago-based Polished Pebbles, founded by author and award-winning social entrepreneur Kelly Fair, is among the star-studded groups selected to be a part of history. The Girls Opportunity Alliance Fund, a program of the Obama Foundation, and Lady Obama are ultimately advancing Polished Pebbles’ work, which addresses the “hope gap” for Black and Brown girls and aims to build the future, one girl at a time.

“Chicago is the place that made me who I am. It’s the place that shaped me, developed my self-confidence, and helped me discover my voice. There’s an energy to this city that’s like no other— an energy that lifts, inspires and nurtures,” said Obama in an Instagram video proudly announcing the big news.

That’s why I couldn’t be more thrilled to share that the Girls Opportunity Alliance is expanding our work right here in my favorite city,” Mrs. Obama continued.

The Girls Opportunity Alliance Fund will support Polished Pebbles’ Every Girl is a CEO (EGCEO) Summer Work-Study program. “EGCEO is a six-week professional development program that combines workshops and hands-on training to prepare girls for success in the workplace,” according to a GoFundMe page that seeks $50,000 in funding. With the Alliance’s support, participants in the program will earn wages for 20 hours each week as they learn and practice how to complete “employment applications, interview for jobs, and engage in professional communication.” Additionally, girls can take on the opportunity to shadow CEOs and professionals by way of Polished Pebble’s collaborations with local businesses, nonprofits, and other institutions to offer shadow opportunities.

To date, the program has employed hundreds of girls. Late last year, Fair celebrated three of the program’s alumni who accepted full-time positions at SOPHY Hyde Park, a boutique hotel in Chicago and a long-standing partner of Polished Pebbles.

“Seeing the success of young, driven women like Diamond, Teja, and Tiara reaffirms why we do what we do,” Fair told the Chicago Defender. “These young women have been in our program for years, building confidence and gaining leadership and adaptability skills that they can take into any workplace.