Building Confident 'SOLES'0
Due to the pressures of growing up, self-confidence can be a trait that is hard to come by for teenagers. That is why one partner of The Kalamazoo Promise has created a support system meant to embolden young women throughout Kalamazoo.
Established as a nonprofit enrichment program for girls in middle school and high school, Confident S.O.L.E. (Strengthening Our Ladies in Excellence) provides a platform for participants to develop self-confidence and an understanding of their own worth. Founder/CEO Dominique Hunt understands the day-to-day obstacles that young women face and wanted to create an environment that would help alleviate these pressures.
Photo credited to Artrella Cohn.
“High school and middle school girls often struggle with self-esteem,” she shared. “We want to help them figure out who they are and expose them to positives in life.”
One of the programming opportunities is S.O.L.E. Academy, a Saturday enrichment training that covers topics such as social and emotional learning, business, leadership, finances, college awareness, etiquette, and public speaking. Another service that Confident S.O.L.E. offers is small group therapy, courtesy of a licensed therapist who visits different school districts and provides girls with a platform to discuss their emotions.
In addition to these resources, the organization’s Velma L. Jones Foundation extends scholarships, workshops, camps, and other support to students with entrepreneurial aspirations. After nearly three years of existence, Confident S.O.L.E. has seen encouraging results amongst its participants.
“I hear from parents about how their kids feel more confident academically and socially,” Hunt explained. “One of my girls even contacted me to share that she was starting her own skincare product business. Triumphs like this can create a domino effect where other girls see an example of confidence and become inspired.”
Part of this success is thanks to the organization’s partners. Young Kings and Queens, Let’s Talk About It, and the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home’s Keys program allows Confident S.O.L.E. to teach its curriculum to the girls in each program. The Promise, Old National Bank, Mercantile Bank, Zhang Financial, and other community members provide the nonprofit with grant donations and sponsorships. Eventually, Hunt hopes to use this generosity to expand the organization’s capabilities.
“One way in which I would like to see the program grow is by introducing it to more schools within Kalamazoo County,” she said when discussing long-term goals. “Another one of our goals is to provide more scholarship opportunities for our members.”
Hunt is adamant that the growth Confident S.O.L.E. has undergone would not be possible without a dedicated board, partners, and generous community.
For more information on how you can assist Confident S.O.L.E. with their mission, visit their donations page. To keep up with the latest fundraising news, follow the organization’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.