Young minority teens from California to Connecticut are vying for one of 50 spots in the At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Academy. Students wanting to experience the black and brown girl magic that occurs each summer during the program are fiercely applying to meet the March 31 deadline. The summer enrichment program for 10th and 11th grade minority female students is in its seventh straight year on the campus of Princeton University. Due to demand, in 2016, the Academy expanded to include a session at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA. A Weekend Intensive mini program is held for students in the ninth grade on the campus of Princeton University.
The Academy focuses on developing strong leaders through academic, social and career components. Girls participate in peer tutoring and small group projects that build lasting bonds. While living in the campus dorm rooms, there are ample opportunities to create meaningful relationships. The curriculum includes critical reading, essay writing, and leadership workshops. The Academy offers a safe place for students to share their challenges. Girls are among a group of peers who understand their struggles.
Students are treated to speakers from across industries including entertainers who are a highlight of the program. Actors including Brian White, Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Jasmine Guy, and Yandy Smith have provided a healthy dose of motivation. Workshop facilitators include role models from the medical, legal, and non-profit fields and have featured Dr. Michele Reed, QVC Inventor Lisa Ascolese, and Madame C. J. Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles.
Academics are intense and tutoring is provided nightly. Teachers include university and college professors. Equipping students to afford the college of their dreams is not lost on the program. A financial aid boot camp demonstrates successful search tools for finding internships and aid. Alumni of the Academy have utilized these techniques to secure college scholarships, including Imani McClendon who attended and graduated from Spelman College after receiving a full scholarship along with an additional $40,000. Between the intense academic studies, there are opportunities for fun-filled activities including a trip to New York to attend a Broadway play (a first-time experience for most of the students).
The two-week boarding Academy is one of the only summer institutes for minority teen girls held on an Ivy League campus and is the first of its kind to commence at Princeton University. Rakiyah White, an alumnus states, “I learned so much about entrepreneurship, leadership (how to become a better leader, budgeting and business etiquette), effective writing, critical reading techniques, and SAT prep.” To date, 100% of the Academy alumni have been accepted to college.
Jacqueline Glass, the Academy Founder and Princeton Theological Seminary alumnus states, “The Academy lives out our mission to empower young women locally to become effective leaders globally.” The Swarthmore College program is scheduled for July 9–21, 2017. The Princeton University session will be held July 23-August 4, 2017. The Weekend Intensive is scheduled August 4-6, 2017. The application deadline for all programs is March 31, 2017. For more information and to apply, go to www.atthewellconferences.org. Need-based financial aid is available.