If leaders are made, and not always born, then why not begin nurturing women leaders as soon as possible? Envision Lead Grow program intercepts girls at 10 years old. Over the course of eight years, the program nurtures their entrepreneurial skills as they become “girl bosses.”
If leaders are made, and not always born, then why not begin nurturing women leaders as soon as possible?
Dr. Angela Reddix’s Envision Lead Grow program intercepts girls at 10 years old. Over the course of eight years, the program nurtures their entrepreneurial skills as they become “girl bosses.”
Reddix was not content with building her own highly successful healthcare management consulting company. She decided that young girls needed to know that someone like her, born into poverty, could be an entrepreneur and have the privilege, as Reddix calls it, of being an employer.
ARDX is Reddix’s company, with approximately 100 employees. While running the company, and studying for her PhD in organizational behavior, Reddix launched Envision Lead Grow (ELG), a nonprofit whose mission is to teach her recipe for success to middle school girls across the U.S.
The program trains girls from impoverished communities to unlock their passions and turn them into profitable businesses. The goal is to evolve the girls into employers as well as entrepreneurs, lifting them and their communities into prosperity.
The annual weeklong training takes place on-site at partner colleges and universities. Following that is group mentoring and online classroom study for the remainder of the year. The graduates then spend two and a half days with Fortune 500 female executives, honing their skills and developing their business plan.
To date, 1,280 girls across the U.S. have benefited from ELG. Not only are they building businesses, but they are also improving their outlook on life. ELG teaches girls self-efficacy, self-control, conscientiousness, delayed gratification and personal leadership. Organization stats show that when the girls were part of ELG: 89% reported that the program helped them feel more confident than before they joined; 95% reported experiencing personal growth; 85% said that ELG helped them feel more comfortable with public speaking; and 100% reported planning to complete both high school and college.
Reddix effected change by:
“I launched ELG to transform communities of poverty into communities of prosperity through the promise of middle school girls. That means we have to be able to employ others so that we infuse capital into these communities. I specifically targeted middle school girls in 48 states across the U.S., where 80% of the students qualify for free lunch. We start working with them in fifth grade right through high school graduation, teaching them to be entrepreneurs and employers.
“ELG is now also a three-year longitudinal study. We are tracking variables like high school graduation rates, teenage pregnancies and crime and how these are impacted by poverty. We can see that the cities with the highest level of prospering small businesses have the lowest level of teenage pregnancies, higher levels of high school graduations and lower crime rates. So all of these are connected.
“We begin with girls as fifth graders because we recognize, and studies show, that as girls are approaching the middle school age, that is when their decisions could change the trajectory of the rest of their lives. So we try to capture them at that moment and keep them through high school graduation.
“The program is completely free to the families. We don’t charge anyone. But the way they pay is through engagement. The girls earn points for their level of engagement starting at the college camp through the work with mentors and the virtual classroom. Those with the highest scores get invited to what is the final part of the program, the Entrepreneur Institute; this is really about no risk, no reward.
“The reality is: Whether they become an entrepreneur and an employer or an employee, we’re shaping girls who are going to change the face of the boardrooms. They’re going to be excellent employees. As an entrepreneur employer, I can tell you that those who are confident enough to trust their voice are the best partners for an entrepreneur.”
Taking action on Reddix’s experience
Find more proven and practical advice to successfully navigate barriers and biases in business as well as society from these books: Women Forward: The 2020 Playbook and Mentoring Women Forward: The 2019 Playbook.