WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Feb. 16, 2023) – LEAD Girls of NC, a local nonprofit focused on empowering at-risk/low-income girls, was named one of 50 recipients of a national Black Women Impact Grant from the Goldman Sachs Foundation. The organization was chosen from more than 800 applicants of Black women-led and Black women-serving nonprofits. LEAD (Learning Everyday Accomplishing Dreams) is using the two-year general operating grant for training, staff expansion, and a larger location. LEAD currently serves more than 300 girls annually in Forsyth County through in-school programming with partner WS/FCS schools in addition to weekend and summer offerings.
“It’s an incredible honor for LEAD to be recognized as a Black Women Impact Grant recipient,” said LEAD founder and executive director Joy Nelson Thomas. “These funds are making it possible for us to realize our vision of LEAD as a dynamic community resource impacting and inspiring the lives of hundreds of girls each year in Forsyth County.”
In 2023, LEAD expanded the number of partner schools where it offers programming led by trained LEAD facilitators to include Philo-Hill Magnet Academy and Paisley Middle School. LEAD already offers programming at Mineral Springs Middle School, Wiley Magnet Middle School, Cook Literacy Model School, Flat Rock Middle School, Middle Fork Academy and Carver High School. The Goldman Sachs Foundation grant is enabling LEAD to hire additional facilitators to serve its expanding community footprint.
A key priority for the LEAD team in 2023 is to have a larger location for the LEAD girls to access outside of school. While they look for space, LEAD is moving to a larger, interim location at its current location on Fourth Street. “We’re excited that our interim space will give us the room we need for a computer lab and lending library,” said Thomas. “The lab will allow the girls to hone their computer skills and we plan to stock our new LEAD library with books that tie to our programming priorities including STEAM and entrepreneurship. We want the girls to fuel their love for reading and technology right here at LEAD.”
Expanded training for staff and volunteers throughout the year is another focal area for LEAD that will be funded through the Goldman Sachs grant. “Understanding and responding to trauma and ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is critically important to our success in having positive and sustained impact on the lives of the girls we serve,” said Thomas.
Selection criteria for recipients of the Black Impact Grant includes a focus on supporting Black women and girls along with a proven record of success in delivering effective solutions. In applying, LEAD highlighted its seven years of service and overwhelmingly positive results from regular surveys with participants to evaluate impact. Among the organization’s strengths are the strong relationships it has built with the principals at LEAD partner schools to ensure the programming meets their expectations. “Our partner school principals along with the girls and their parents are LEAD’s biggest cheerleaders,” said Thomas. “They let us know that the work we are doing is changing lives in very real ways. I love how proud the girls are to be participating in LEAD. In many of our partner schools, more girls want to participate than we have room for, so it’s an honor for them to be chosen which makes the LEAD experience very special.”
On March 12, 2023, LEAD Girls will celebrate its seventh year of service to the community at its annual Soiree. This year’s event theme is “Hear Her Roar,” and the event will take place at ROAR on Liberty Street in Winston-Salem. Event details will be available at leadgirls.org.