Founded by Betty LaMarr, EMPOWHER works with 250 female students each year in Los Angeles schools to foster self-confidence and ensure that they make the leap from middle to high school.
Lionsgate executive Amber Rasberry is a Co-Facilitator for the EmpowHer Leaders Academy, the Saturday program that supports 20-25 high schoolers from the 9th to 12th grades. We asked her why she was interested in this program and how Colour Entertainment can support it.
How did you become involved with Empowher?
A friend of mine who is on the board of the institute hosted a female empowerment mixer. A few of the girls from the program spoke about their experience and how EmpowHer changed their lives. I was instantly inspired by the strength of these young women, and their passion for the organization.
A few months later I had breakfast with the org’s founder, Betty LaMarr. We discussed the ways I could get involved. As we spoke, she mentioned she was starting a high school program: EmpowHer Leadership Academy. In college I founded a rite of passage group with my friends so I already had experience in this arena. Betty and I agreed that ELA would be a great fit.
What is it about the organization that you found unique?
The girls come away from the mentoring sessions with so much information and excitement. They are eager to participate and they love coming back every month.
Can you tell us about one particular moment that has made an impact on you?
We had just started the second year of the EmpowHer Leadership Academy. For our first session of the year, we always invite the parents to join their daughters for orientation. But this year, we decided to not just do an orientation, but to have an activity the parents could do with the girls.
The girls were asked to list their long term goals while the parents wrote letters to their 16 year-old selves. When they were reunited with their parents, the girls shared their 1, 5 and 10 year goals, and the parents followed by sharing their intimate thoughts as their 16 year-old selves.
It was a magical, intimate moment — walking around the room and hearing parents tell stories they never shared with their daughters. It was the first time the girls heard about their parents’ adolescence — their fears, hopes and dreams. I have never been in such a powerful room. You saw the light in the girls’ eyes when they realized that their parents were once their age.
What do you hope the Colour Entertainment members will do for EmpowHer?
The girls need career help! They are always asking about internships. And they want advice, especially about careers in entertainment. You can also donate directly here. Or give through the EmpowHer Classic 100 bowl-a-thon here.