Mt. Laurel program continues to empower young women

Alice Paul Institute will hold two virtual summer programs this year.

The Alice Paul Institute (API) for girls will hold two virtual summer programs in August and instructors believe they have a solid interactive foundation that will allow participants to receive the same experience despite not being in person.

“We did this virtually last year, and we had very little time to shift gears and plan because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Program Director Alyssa Hunt. “Now we have the benefit of our experience from last year and we have the benefit of people and professionals used to Zoom interactions.”

The small nonprofit in Mt. Laurel will hold the Alice Paul Professional Leadership Institute (APPLI) program for high-school students and the Lead-A-Way program for middle-schoolers this summer.

Each initiative will offer a variety of activities through Zoom and feature female guest speakers, with the hope of meeting the overall mission to bring awareness to gender equality through education and leadership development.   

APPLI is a two week, virtual interactive program that will be held from Aug. 19 to Aug. 29. The fee is $165 and teens also have the option to choose one session for $25. Within the two week session, girls will identify and develop skills that lead to academic and professional success.

“It would be just a couple hours a day, and each day, we’re going to have a workshop and a career talk,” Hunt explained. “The workshops are going to be things like building a resume, professional communication, using social media wisely, and personal financial management.”

The career talk will feature guest speakers who are working women in high positions. Since the program is online, APPLI can connect with different women around the world.  

Last year, the program had a woman who works as a financial wealth manager from Phoenix, Arizona. She addressed the importance of budgeting as well as working her way up in a predominantly male industry. One of this year’s featured speakers is a county commissioner in Athens, Georgia, who will discuss government and politics. 

The program will also offer an opportunity for teens to get a head start on college readiness by learning about financial aid and writing a proper college essay. 

Lead-A-Way has been an established program since 2012, but this will be the first year Alice Paul will offer it for the summer. The institute wants to offer an opportunity for junior-high students to unlock their leadership potential through a historical lens. 

The virtual initiative will be offered from Aug. 4 to 8 for a fee of $85. Lead-A-Way emphasizes the importance of building confidence in girls. Participants will learn how to stand out as leaders, as well as work on improving their public speaking and collaborative teamwork through interactive projects. 

“We look at women like (activist) Dolores Huerta and (former Congresswoman)  Shirley Chisholm,” Hunt noted. “We talked about the challenges they faced, what they did to overcome them, and the impact that had on their own communities.” 

The instructors will relate the methods the historical women used to overcome their challenges and compare them to certain problems teens face in their lives, such as homework policies. The girls will be asked to come up with a solution.

Last summer, Lead-A-Way had Nancy Ezold join a meeting. She is a lawyer based out of Pennsylvania who brought the first successful sex discrimination suit against a law firm for denying her partnership on the basis of gender. 

Both ALI programs will offer sessions on mental health and balance. Instructors will have a licensed therapist and life coach to address different strategies for “me” time and the importance of one’s well-being.

Once API is again open to the public, anyone who registers for one of the two programs will get a free tour of the facility. The program also offers scholarship opportunities for those who are unable to afford participation. 

“We don’t have a set number of scholarships available; we haven’t had to turn anyone away in the past, because of a lack of ability to pay,” Hunt noted. “We believe strongly that part of gender justice is creating socioeconomic equality.” 

Hunt hopes to continue empowerment of young women, teaching them to advocate for themselves and others through the API programs.

To register, volunteer, or apply for scholarships, or for more information, go to https://www.alicepaul.org.