THE STORY BEHIND WOMEN OF TOMORROW
The inspiration and design for Women of Tomorrow is based on Jennifer Valoppi’s college years studying Psychology of Women. Jennifer says, “The research was clear – the real problem with true equality for women is not so much that men think that women are inferior, but that women agreed. And the women who do make it to the top like being the only ones there and don’t do anything to help other women along.” Studies show that research still holds true today. Jennifer wanted to change that. So in 1997, while she was the main news anchor at WTVJ NBC 6 in Miami, Jennifer designed a unique program for highly accomplished professional women to reach out to at-risk girls. With the support of then NBC 6 President & General Manager Don Browne, a long time supporter of women and minorities in the workplace and of mentoring as a tool for empowering people, Women of Tomorrow was created. Since then we have worked with 11,000 girls.
Women of Tomorrow is about women helping women and its program model is unique and effective — highly accomplished professional women meet with small groups of at-risk girls in public high schools once a month to discuss ways to overcome obstacles and to provide skills for success. In its first year of operation, Women of Tomorrow commissioned an independent psychologist to conduct pre and post self-esteem tests of the girls participating and a statistically significant increase in the self-esteem of the Women of Tomorrow Mentees was found.
Jennifer hand selected the inaugural 23 Founding Women of Tomorrow Mentors who went out to six public high schools in 1997. Since then Mentors come to Women of Tomorrow through referral from an existing Mentor and Women of Tomorrow currently operates in over 180 public high schools and reaches approximately 4,000 Mentees with its network of 500 Mentors.
In 2000, WOT established its Scholarship Program at the request of its Mentees who were excited to pursue the goals they had developed with the help of their Mentors. One of Women of Tomorrow’s Founding Mentors, Mariita Srebnick, threw a New Year’s Eve party and raised $50,000 to help Women of Tomorrow establish the George Feldenkreis & Mariita Srebnick Scholarship Endowment at Miami Dade College. Since then, the program has awarded over $4.8 Million Dollars in scholarships to more than 1,800 deserving young women and has mentees in hundreds of colleges including, Harvard, George Washington University, Howard University, Columbia University, University of Miami, St. Thomas University, Miami Dade College, Broward College and many more. In Fall 2011, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, we expanded to Metro Detroit, and in 2011 to Philadelphia, PA in Fall 2015.