As scholars file out of the Uplift Summit International Preparatory building to go home at the end of the day, a group of female scholars can be seen going against the current and filing into a classroom. These dedicated, young female scholars are staying after school to learn about civic engagement.
Founded in 2009, IGNITE encourages young women from ages 14 to 22 to develop political ambition. IGNITE implements political training programs that are specifically tailored to the needs of young women and are designed not only to increase knowledge but build confidence.
“At a normal high school, I just felt like a number. But being a part of Uplift and having the chance to participate in IGNITE, I feel like I am getting the attention I need to excel. Being able to work on my public speaking has built my confidence and makes me feel powerful. I feel like the next thing I know, I’ll be running for office.” says Luz Martinez, a senior at Uplift Summit Prep.
The young women who Ignite tends to work with, are generally lower income young women who may have a difficult time seeking out leadership opportunities and training they need to run for office. IGNITE programs have experienced great success at many Uplift schools.
Throughout the year, these young female scholars will be exposed to women in political leadership, given hands on training opportunities and connected to a network of women who support and nurture each other’s aspirations. Between all the Uplift schools there have been several elected speakers ranging from judges, councilwomen, and other important figures including Texas State Board member Hon. Mavis Knight, Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, and former Dallas Independent School District Board member Hon. Lois Parrott. There have also been other speakers from organizations that play a huge role in the community including CitySquare, Traffick911, Dallas County Juvenile Department, and Children At Risk. In addition to being exposed to these great speakers and organizations, these dedicated young female scholars have also actively participated in many IGNITE events including the IGNITE Texas Young Women’s Leadership Conference and annual Tea.
Currently, there are four Uplift Schools that participate in the IGNITE program. Uplift Hampton, Uplift Peak, Uplift Summit and Uplift Williams are all participating in the program and building confidence in the lives of young female scholars.