Accelerating Economic Empowerment of Women Through Access to Education

Soroptimist announces 2017 recipients of its Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women program

September 2017
Contact: Darlene Friedman, Senior Director of Marketing Communications, darlene@soroptimist.org

Philadelphia, PA — It’s been said that real heroes don’t wear capes, they teach. Perhaps that explains why all three of Soroptimist’s 2017 Live Your Dream Awards finalists are pursuing dreams of becoming educators. These amazing women have overcome huge obstacles and are on a quest to create better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

Through the award-winning Live Your Dream Awards program, Soroptimist—a global volunteer organization—helps disadvantaged head-of-household women by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects. Ultimately, the program economically empowers women by giving them choice and opportunity. Each year, Soroptimist awards more than $2 million in education grants to about 1,450 women. These women face enormous obstacles including poverty, domestic and sexual violence, and substance abuse. The program is unique in that Live Your Dream Award recipients may use the cash grant to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education—such as books, childcare, tuition and transportation.

“Education is the great equalizer,” said Soroptimist’s Executive Director & CEO Elizabeth M. Lucas. “When we arm women with a quality education, we empower them to reach their full potential. We are pleased our 45-year-old signature program supports the UN’s focus on accelerating the economic progress of women.”

Soroptimist recently awarded $10,000 cash grants to each of its three 2017 Live Your Dream Awards finalists (the women received additional cash grants as they rose through the award process). Aislinn Brookshire of Madison, Alabama; Sara; and Rochelle (whose last names and locations have been left out for safety reasons), share a common dream—they all plan to become teachers so they can give back to their communities the way others have reached out and helped them.

Said Rochelle, “I will be more than a teacher and a second mother to my students. I will help them find value in life no matter how difficult it can be … and help others the way kind-hearted people are helping me now.”

“Soroptimist’s Live Your Dream Awards demonstrate a powerful ripple effect, where these courageous women pull themselves through tremendous adversity. Often, they then use their own traumatic pasts to inform careers that pay it forward to help others,” said Soroptimist President Dawn Marie Lemonds. “These women are true heroes.”

The Live Your Dream Awards will help all three of these deserving women ease the immense financial burden they face while simultaneously supporting their families, working and going to school.

“This award will help me continue my education and graduate, so that I can provide a good example for my children and give back to my community,” said Sara.

Read more about the 2017 finalists and learn how they are turning their lives around with help from Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards.

Since its Live Your Dream Awards program began in 1972, Soroptimist has disbursed more than $30 million in cash awards, helping 30,000 women achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. The Fels Institute of Government, a research and consulting organization based at the University of Pennsylvania, released a study evaluating the program. The report concluded it is highly effective in helping women gain the tools they need to make economic improvements in their lives by increasing their self-esteem and employment prospects. In many cases, recipients create a ripple effect by pursuing careers designed to help other disadvantaged women or girls. Read the Fels study at: http://www.soroptimist.org/pdf/FelsCaseStatement.pdf.

The Live Your Dream Awards recently received the 2017 ASAE Power of A Gold Award, a top- level of recognition for associations working to make a better world. Soroptimist is now accepting Live Your Dream Awards applications through November 15, 2017, and encourages eligible candidates to apply: http://www.soroptimist.org/awards/eligibility.html.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that economically improves the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. Soroptimist envisions a world where women and girls have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential. More than 110,000 members and supporters in 20 countries and territories invest in the dreams of women and girls through access to education. Soroptimist’s signature program, Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women, has disbursed more than $30 million to 30,000 women since 1972. Its newest program, Dream It, Be It, targets girls in secondary school who face obstacles to their future success. To date, 20,000 girls have benefited from the program. Soroptimist also powers LiveYourDream.org, its online community that provides on- and offline opportunities for volunteer action in support of women and girls.

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