“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” Martin Luther King, Jr. Providence Day School High School Sophomore Shreya Mantha has been volunteering to help at-risk girls in the Charlotte community since she was in middle school. When she saw the issues other girls her age were facing, she decided she wanted to do something to help. Shreya started Foundation For Girls, a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, with the goal of nurturing the leader in every girl. This organization is designed to service at-risk girls and young women in the Charlotte area – homeless, refugees, and survivors of human trafficking or domestic violence. Within a few years, Shreya has turned her passion for helping at risk girls into a reality.
How Shreya did it
Shreya’s parents encouraged her and her younger sister, Sahana, to meet and engage with girls from different backgrounds. She started volunteering and observing how other nonprofits helped at-risk girls in Charlotte. This ongoing exposure and awareness about both global issues and the world outside their home broadened Shreya and Sahana’s perspective and allowed them to really see what life was like for the disadvantaged girls in Charlotte. Shreya realized how important the use of technology skill training was in our society today and how important it is for girls and women to gain these skills in order to achieve their career goals and dreams.
Shreya attributes much of the organization’s success to her parents who have supported her from the start and sister who also runs Foundation For Girls. However, what drove Shreya to commit to Foundation For Girls was her grandmother’s wish for her to help underprivileged girls, shreya told us. Her grandmother was very passionate about wanting to help the underprivileged girls in India, which is why Shreya hopes that Foundation For Girls will eventually expand to be a global organization that helps girls all over the world.
Although many individuals have helped Shreya begin Foundation For Girls, she told us about a few that were memorable. “My sister and I are lifers at Providence Day School. We love our school, peers, teachers and the culture of social responsibility that is instilled in us from elementary school. School is an extension of home to us. I feel my school has played a big role in making us who we are, with a strong value system and the support I have received whenever I wanted to take on the lead to do something like starting the GirlUp Club or launching PDS Incubator, PDS is a very supportive and encouraging environment.
In 8th grade, Shreya started PDS GirlUp Club, which is part of https://girlup.org/. Now is the leader of the Charlotte Coalition for GirlUp which includes all 3 private schools as well as 6 public schools in the area. They do joint events to raise awareness about global issues girls face. This year as part of the Coalition they invited Mayor Roberts and GirlUp clubs to PDS, which Shreya says is a great way to get girls from the Charlotte area schools connected.
PDS Incubator is a leadership and entrepreneurship forum that Shreya started in the 9th grade. This club brings in leaders and entrepreneurs to talk to PDS high school students about their career journeys. “Everyone who attends these sessions- students, teachers, and parents have really enjoyed these events and find these information and real experiences packed sessions to be really good. I’m busy lining up speakers for next year,” Shreya tells us.
Mentor-a-Dream is Shreya’s Student Of Service (SOS) Club, which she launched this year. Through this SOS club, five of Shreya’s peers have even started volunteering with the homeless and refugee children in the Charlotte area. “I like working with my peers and engaging them with the community. During work breaks, we get to discuss school related things as well,” Shreya says.
In addition to PDS being so influential to the start of Foundation For Girls and all of these other amazing programs Shreya has started, another organization has also been a large part of the success of Foundation For Girls. Foundation For Girl’s second non-profit partner The Relatives has been a great – partner to Foundation For Girls and still is today. “Mr. Curtis Joe, Assistant Executive Director always discussed the needs and experiences of the homeless children and those who come out of the foster care system. He presented the needs and we developed programs to help their clients. For example, our Express Yourself Workshops were developed to help girls with self- confidence. To have discussions on self-confidence and self-belief while doing something engaging like art, baking, yoga, jewelry making – learning through doing. A year later we have seen that these programs work. This year, I have been invited to lead the Youth Leadership Advisory Board for The Relatives-Mr. Curtis Joe asked to develop and implement a program for youth on character building and leadership. I have started work on it and have started contacting individuals who I think can contribute. It is a great partnership and I learn a lot from these discussions and the process of developing and implementing these programs.”
Another person who has been a mentor to Shreya is Ms. Sharon Reed, author of Walking The Heart Path and founder of Global Girls Project. The Global Girls Project’s goal is to create a collection of stories that inspire, encourage, uplift and empower others to find their own voice and become a leader in their own life, passing on the legacy of leadership from one generation of women to the next. “In early 2014 I shared the idea of Foundation for Girls with Ms. Reed and she told me everything takes time and that it will be about three to four years before you will have things established. Now in 2017 things are beginning to take shape. She is an inspiration and I love her writing style. I hope to be a writer like her one day,” Says Shreya.
$1 from every Walking The Heart Path book sold goes to foundation for Girls! So purchase your book today and support FFG!
Shreya says FFG volunteers and program leaders are also key to what Foundation For Girls has accomplished and how far they’ve have come in a short period of time. “For example, Liz Mockler who is ex-Bank of America helped develop the Personal Finance Program. I too am learning about personal finance by reading her material. Janna Miller works on Jewelry Design, Rachel Peck and Everette Oxrider (Junior at Myers Park High) developed the yoga program, The Three Chef Team- Naomi Knox, Jazmine Scott, Ashley Nightingale have developed the baking and cooking program, Kate Weaver does Photography with the girls,” Shreya says. In addition, Foundation For Girls has a small board and advisory board of people who decided to support Shreya’s work and have helped her stay focussed and not take too much on.
What allows Shreya to balance Foundation For Girls with school and other extracurricular activities is the joy helping other girls brings to her. Shreya is a high school student and plays volleyball. She loves to bake, hangout with friends, and craft as well. When Shreya was asked about how she balances having free time with work, she responded, “Although Foundation For Girls is work, it’s something I love to do. Helping these girls brings me so much happiness. When I go after school on Thursdays to volunteer with refugees at Ourbridge for Kids or on Saturday’s with the Homeless at The Relatives Crisis Center. I’m just filled with joy and always leave with a smile on my face. So when I am not busy with school or volleyball, I spend my free time doing what I love and helping at-risk girls.”
Although Foundation For Girls is something Shreya finds to be fun, it is a lot of work and hands on learning to run an organization which takes up much of her time. However, Shreya still manages to stay on target academically through all of the work that goes into her Foundation. She also takes AP courses and devotes much of her time to Varsity Volleyball. “With a tough Sophomore schedule, varsity volleyball and non-profit there was not much time left to sleep. I wish the days were longer and I could survive on power naps,” Shreya told us. Shreya balances all of these things, but has a firm understanding of how important her priorities are. She was so exhausted at the end of the season that she had to take a break from club volleyball, but that doesn’t stop Shreya from being involved on the Diversity and Inclusion advisory board of USA Volleyball and for being recognized for her role in the community by her club volleyball team. “I was nominated by my Club- Carolina Union VolleyBall Club as an athlete who is a role-model on and off the court and does work to support the community.” Over 200 clubs from across the country come to Atlanta for this tournament and Shreya received the -For The Win Award – March, 27, 2016
The 5 programs Foundation For Girls Currently offers
- Children’s Mobile Technology Lab
- Personal Finance and Financial Well-being workshops
- Express Yourself – Self – Art, Yoga, Jewelry, Cooking, Photography
- Mentor-a-Dream and Tutor-a-passion
- Character Building and Leadership (underdevelopment)
Character Building and Leadership was introduced based on input from community partners who felt that there was a need to be met in that area. All of the programs at Foundation For Girls have been designed to meet a need and bridge a gap. Programs are developed based on partner input and then implemented and extended to other partners as well. For example, the” Personal Finance and Financial Well-being Workshops ” were developed to meet the needs of the homeless youth.
What the community can do to support Foundation For Girls
Donate! Foundation For Girls has the goal of reaching 2500 girls by the year 2020, and they need your help. If you are an organization, Foundation For Girls is currently looking for corporate partners. They are also trying to get enough money to purchase a van, since all of the programs in the organization are mobile and are taken to the girls in different location. One program the Mobile Technology Lab, uses laptops to train girls in technology. This van would allow the laptops to actually be used inside of the van, rather than transporting all of them out and back in.
Other current needs include:
- Corporate Sponsorships
- Program and Operational Grants
- Event Support- 5K Run, and fundraising events.
- Marketing, PR, and Event support
- Collaboration for developing Character Building and Leadership workshops
In addition to corporate sponsors and partners, learn more about how to donate supplies and volunteer for Foundation For Girls!
Current Non-Profit Partners:
What Can we Expect for Foundation For Girls in the future?
Foundation For Girls wants to expand the services offered for at-risk girls everywhere. As previously stated Shreya hopes to go global one day, but there are additional expansions Foundation For Girls is reaching towards as well. Today The primary focus is to raise enough money to be able to implement and support our Charlotte community first.Foundation For Girls has already grown so much within the past few years and will continue to expand. If you are interested in attending or volunteering at any of the workshops contact Foundation For Girls!
Contact Foundation For Girls
Don’t forget to add Foundation For Girls on social media as well!