by Ronnie Estoque
The KD Hall Foundation is currently seeking applicants for their “Girls on the Rise” (GOTR) program, which aims to develop leadership skills for 20–30 freshmen in the Greater Seattle area who will be chosen for the cohort. Applications for the program are currently open and will be closing March 23, with interviews starting on March 26 for applicants.
Kela D. Hall is the CEO and cofounder of the KD Hall Foundation and was inspired to create a program specifically for high school girls after finishing her inaugural 2015 programming called “Women on the Rise.” She realized that there was a need to serve and provide opportunities for BIPOC high school girls as they continue their development through high school.
“We started going to the schools and hosting conferences … the conferences were yielding us some really great results,” Hall said.
At one of these conferences hosted in the Highline Public Schools district in 2018, a student came up to Hall and a colleague of hers and thanked them for presenting on the topic of suicide, as the student had been contemplating killing themselves. Moments like this propelled Hall to expand to other schools where she continued to see the dire need to support young BIPOC girls who may be experiencing intensified hardship due to low socioeconomic status and inaccessibility of resources and support.
Additional funding through the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has enabled the GOTR program to broaden its outreach to youth in the Greater Seattle area. KD Hall Foundation is specifically focused on recruiting a freshman cohort so that they can follow participants’ journey through high school.
“It’s phenomenal when a system like [OSPI] validates the work that you’re doing — it is very motivating,” Hall said. “Every girl that goes through this program will be paid, as well.”
This GOTR program will be fully virtual because of the pandemic. According to Hall, the ten-week GOTR program will focus on teaching their cohort new competencies each week, such as business acumen, self-efficacy, conflict management, negotiation skills, and self-care, amongst others. Hall also believes that the program is ready to adapt to a virtual-only space since they began a hybrid program in 2019 to reduce costs of programming at the time.
“We’re preparing girls for the workforce, we’re preparing girls to be able to know how to negotiate, to be able to read contracts, and to be able to write contracts,” Hall said regarding Girls on the Rise programming.
The KD Hall Foundation has two vital missions that revolve around mentoring women and young girls by providing them opportunities — as well as increasing public awareness of Sickle Cell Disease and supporting ongoing research towards a cure.
“In twenty years from now, these girls will be leading our nation,” Hall said.
This chosen cohort will be instrumental in helping hone a lesson plan that will be utilized statewide during the 2021–22 school year, as the KD Hall Foundation has its eyes focused on expanding their programming in the following years. Those interested in applying for the GOTR program can do so here. Invitations to join the program will be shared on March 30, with instruction going from April 5 to June 1. Evergreen High School in White Center is being utilized at the flagship institution for the program.
Ronnie Estoque is a Seattle-based storyteller and aspiring documentarian. He is driven to uplift marginalized voices in the South Seattle community through his writing, photography, and videography. You can keep up with his work by following his Twitter and Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of the KD Hall Foundation.
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