Rock Star Spotlight: 5-Minute Mentors

Each year, Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Rock Star Fund awards several young women of color with up to $2,000 to invest in themselves, and our community through individualized projects that foster a culture of learning, leadership, and positivity. The Fund also works to advance the Young Women’s Initiative Blueprint for Action, a plan driven by young women of color and community members to shift local policies and practices affecting young women. 

Last month, one of our 2021 Rock Star Fund awardees, Isabella “Astro” Getahun (12), launched “5-Minute Mentors”, a video series that connects young people of color with positive role models in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and provides them with the tools needed to counteract challenges and societal barriers faced.

“By selecting me, [Washington Area Women’s Foundation] gave me the opportunity to participate in this project. During the time of this project, I saw so many negative news posts about youth of color and wanted to create something that would give youth of color something positive in the media. As a result, I have grown tremendously personally and professionally. Their monthly check-ins served as important motivators, and I look forward to working with The Foundation again in the future.”

Isabella “Astro” Getahun, 2021 Rock Star Awardee

According to research, 87% of mentors and mentees say their mentoring relationships make them feel empowered and contribute to their development of self-confidence 1. Through “5-Minute Mentors”, Astro is providing her peers with a powerful mentoring experience that promotes personal, academic, and professional success.

Each “5-Minute Mentors” episode interviews women of color of various backgrounds, including those without a professional degree. The reason? Astro feels it is necessary to highlight the benefits of having a mentor, especially for prospective mentees who do not plan to attend a 4-year college.

Featured mentors include:

  • Jeanette Reyes – Fox 5 News Anchor
  • Mallory Striplin – Peer Mentor and Student
  • Erika Preira – DC Public School Administrator
  • Cherita Harrod – Engineer and Teacher
  • Stephanie Medina – Entrepreneur and Salon Owner

When we asked Astro about how she envisions “5-Minute Mentors” growing in the future, she responded by saying she wants to use the remainder of her funds to invest in her YouTube channel. She would like to also increase the number of mentors participating in her project and would like to invite mentees to submit questions for the mentors to respond to via video submission.

The Women’s Foundation is excited for Astro and her “5-Minute Mentors” series. Through our participatory grantmaking, we are helping young women like Astro create a pathway to building resilience in our young people, as well as impact in our community.

Watch Astro’s 5-Minute Mentors series here.

A 13-year-old ‘Rock Star’ with a Vision…

This month, one of our 2021 Rock Star Fund awardees Aras Tobin, 13, launched a vision board party and combined this with an opportunity to apply for high schools with members of her class. 

Young people are surviving unimaginable feats in the midst of this global pandemic. Despite our current lived realities, youth, like Aras Tobin, are taking strides to ensure that community needs are being met. As Aras plans to apply to high school this year, she recognizes the need for a vision to tackle her goals this year – she also recognizes that her peers need this too. This month, she co-ordinated a vision board party for her peers and incorporated completing high school applications. She knows that this is an area of stress for many of her peers and will make it a fun and enjoyable experience. 

Example of Vision Board

A vision board encourages participants to use magazine pictures, drawings, and other visual representations to demonstrate goals set for a period of time. They are highly effective in being a physical and creative reminder of what you want to accomplish. Incorporating a tangible goal such as high school applications, allows the goal to be measured and builds a community during an already stressful time. This event, amongst other initiatives that Aras planned, is being supported by the Rock Star Fund through Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Aras, 13, is one of the youngest Rock Star Awardees to date. 

“It’s important that women have equal access to education and roadmaps of opportunities that are available to them. Without proper education these women are at a disadvantage and could end up being misunderstood in many areas of life.”

-Aras Tobin, 2021 Rock Star Awardee

The Rock Star Fund provides young women of color between the ages of 12 and 24 living in DC with up to $2,000 to invest in their own learning, leadership, ideas, and community projects, while also advancing the Young Women’s Initiative Blueprint for Action. Aras identified a need for guidance and mentorship specifically for education and subsequently applied for this award. In her application she wrote, “By encouraging and empowering young women to explore different ways to learn, develop, and grow, we are creating support systems for future success within our communities.” and this is exactly what she is accomplishing. 

Most uniquely, the Rock Star Awardees, using participatory grantmaking, are selected by members of the DC Girls’ Coalition, a group of young women, girls and gender expansive youth who set the policy agenda for the city to center women, girls and gender expansive youth of color. They are tasked with selecting Awardees who will help address the needs that ultimately benefit the community. 

We are excited to launch our 4th cohort of Rock Stars like Aras, who see the need for changes in DC and want to develop community projects that address these issues.

Applications are now OPEN for youth of color in Washington, DC between the age of 12 – 24. Apply here until February 28, 2022!