at the Forefront is honouring the legacy of Rhonda Staudt and her work with the Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation (SASEF) by launching the Girls of Color (GOC) Project this year. This will be an avenue for atF to directly interact with young black girls across the globe facing disparities in gaining access to quality education, career-building opportunities, and mentoring. This past year has seen heightened risk of gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, and mental health challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 isolation measures. With the GOC Project, we aim to provide platforms encouraging the young black girls in the program to uplift their voices and strategize their own solutions to the growing challenges they face.
We are thankful to those that have donated $5,000 thus far—particularly SASEF and the Staudt family who have donated $4,500. We are still accepting donations on our GoFundMe to make this project a reality.
Founded in 2001, the Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation (SASEF) launched multiple programs with the mission to improve the quality of children’s lives—with many of their programs directly supporting United Nations initiatives focused on educating and protecting children across the globe. SASEF’s accomplishments over the years are a testament to the vision and passion of co-founder, Rhonda Staudt. As the mastermind behind every SASEF project, her indomitable force fueled their commitment to their work and strength to implement their ideas into fully-realised projects. Before her death, Rhonda Staudt was focused on developing the “Girls of Color in Global Spaces” project. As SASEF’s Board of Directors made the decision to close the foundation’s activities following her passing, they identified at the Forefront as the ideal home to house this program in her honor—we are honoured to be entrusted with the mission to actualize the GOC Project.
In its inaugural year, the GOC Project will focus on Black girls in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa who will be selected to participate in a mentorship program championing youth-centered empowerment. Following the debilitating effects of the past year plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more pertinent than ever to create safe spaces for critical conversations co-created and led by young people whose lives have been shaken at such a vulnerable stage in their adolescence with the past year's events.
While the voices of young people are often undermined, this project aims to harness their fresh and personal perspectives of their lived experiences to inform what they hope to get out of this opportunity to interact with their peers and a network of mentors from varied careers—spanning from education, sexual & reproductive health to gender equality, and gender-based violence.