Women hold about 4.2 percent of CEO positions in America’s 500 largest companies, according to a 2016 article from Fortune.
In response to this statistic, the 1,000 Dreams Fund is providing women in high school and college scholarships and other opportunities to be mentored by industry professionals in order to close the gap.
According to its website, 1,000 Dreams Fund has a goal of providing 1,000 $200 scholarships for women across the nation; so far it has given out 29 scholarships.
Its newest five-week online challenge, #MentorMe, is aiming to inspire young women by allowing them to learn from professional mentors. Program participants will be able to speak to anyone from the programs board of directors in a one-on-one session and receive financial assistance to help pay for expenses such as textbooks, study abroad programs and electronic devices.
Money for the program is largely generated from donations.
“One of the other things we realized is that scholarships programs are hard to find. The #MentorMe challenge grew out of that,” explained 1,000 Dreams Fund founder Christie Garton. “We wanted to make it even easier to access funding by doing it on social media.”
To join the challenge, which runs from Oct. 11 to Nov. 11, participants must follow and tweet to the 1,000 Dreams Fund account @1000DreamsFund.
Entrants must finish the sentence “#MentorMe so I can [insert your idea] @1000DreamsFund.”
Participants are also encouraged to share photos as examples of how they are taking an initiative to achieve their goals.
“It’s good for the girl and good for the mentor,” Jennifer Reed, Cal State Long Beach professor and chair in the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department said. “All girls need mentors, and building those relationships also builds community and cross-generational understanding and connection.”
Each week, one woman will be chosen as a winner and be awarded a $200 grant as well as a chance to get mentored by someone from the organization’s professional board of directors.
“I think it’s important for girls to have that mentorship,” Pam Rayburn, coordinator for CSULB’s Women’s and Gender Equity Center said. “I think it’s important for self esteem and empowerment.”
This is the second challenge that the group has released in order to get young women to engage with the organization.
1,000 Dreams Fund started from Garton’s previous project, U Chic, a woman-to-woman advice book and website which women can refer to if they have specific questions about school. The organization began giving out scholarships after officials realized that the cost of college is a setback for most students..
Since Garton created the fund in 2015, more than $40,000 in scholarships have been given out. This money gives women in high school and college one-time financial help with any educational needs they might have.
“A lot of scholarship programs are very niche and narrowly targeted to a certain school or areas of study so it excludes a lot of students from even applying,” Garton said. “I wanted to, with the 1,000 Dreams Fund, to create a place where any young woman who have a variety of interests can be funded.”