Can you tell me about your background and why you founded Epic Girl?
A lot of people have asked me over the past two years why I decided to start EPIC Girl. I could give a long, drawn out answer, and sometimes I do (let's be honest- short answers aren't my forte). But if I had to narrow it down, I would say this:
I've always understood that it can be harder for women to do things. Career things. In life, we are often told "girls don't do that" or "that's not a job suited for a woman". And then even after we leap obstacles and persevere through the task of balancing of family and career, we are told things like "you only got this because you're pretty" or "maybe you should just observe". We are punished for speaking our minds, chastised for having opinions, and called pushy, aggressive and difficult.
So I started EPIC Girl because I saw girls like me who had dreams and just needed help realizing them. These girls had an unfair disadvantage because of the hand they were dealt. Yet they still had this glint in their eyes that said "I want more". I just couldn't stand the thought of them floundering, trying to find their way amidst all the messages saying we can't have it all or we're not worthy or good enough. So I thought "hmmm... What if a lot of strong, empowered, sometimes pushy, complex and beautiful women got together and said to the younger women "you've got this"? That would be EPIC!! We should start that and change the world and inspire each other to go for it." And so we did. We started EPIC Girl and we are strong, and beautiful, opinionated and EPIC.
What is the process for a girl like when they find Epic Girl, and how do they find you?
After that class, they are offered mentorship through the Epic Girl Program. If they want to be paired with mentors, they first have to take our 5 classes and graduate. Our first four classes focus on healthy relationships, boundaries, resolving conflict and setting realistic expectations. The fifth class is taught by the Nashville Sexual Assault Center and talks to them about sex, relationships, and links them with resources in the community.
Epic Girl Graduation
What is your favorite part of the Epic Girl Program?
You have a unique approach in how much you work with other non-profits in Nashville. Can you talk about that a bit?
Additionally, we celebrate all the other non-profits who come alongside us, celebrate us, and provide added support to the awesome girls we love so much. The Oasis Center, The Sexual Assault Center, YODA, The REAL Program, Juvenile Court Davidson County, DCS, The Public Defender's Office, Juvenile Court Williamson County all stand in the gap with us and we couldn't do this work without them!
We'll use it to help train girls to be successful in their mentoring experience through the prep classes, and to train more mentors to pour into our girls. It costs about $400/Girl to complete the entire program and get connected to their mentors. So your contribution will connect more girls to mentors!
What is something you’ve learned in running this program that you want to share with us?
How can someone get involved in mentoring and be helpful to Epic Girl?
Go to the website and fill out an application. You'll be contacted to set up training classes. All of our mentors must submit to a background check and complete classes to prepare them to serve their EPIC Girl. Contact Charity@epicgirl.net for more information.
All mentors must agree to work on a team, commit to a year at minimum and follow the policies and procedures of EPIC Girl. If someone wants to be involved but can't commit to mentoring at this time there are still plenty of ways to connect. Host an event, volunteer to help with events, talk to your church or community group about EPIC Girl, give to support our work.
What does the future of Epic Girl look like to you?
In terms of our dreams for EG, we have a lot of those. One is obviously to develop sustainable programs that people believe in and are committed to helping fund. That's always something non-profits are thinking about. We're still a small, start-up which offers challenges and we're committed to working with the community in such a way that they engage with what we're doing.
We have dreams to start a legal fund and work with area attorneys who specialize with system involved youth represent them so that they get the best access to services whether it's housing or counseling. And finally, we really want to start a transitional living home for girls who age out of their current living situations and need a place to stay while they accomplish their goals.
Learn more about Epic Girl:
WHO WE ARE
EPIC GIRL EXISTS TO EMPOWER GIRLS TO REACH THEIR FULL POTENTIAL THROUGH EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS, MENTORING, COUNSELING, AND COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES.
WE FOCUS ON DEFINING OUR PAST AND RECOGNIZING HOW IT CAN SHAPE US BUT NOT ALLOWING IT TO DEFINE OUR FUTURE.
AT EPIC GIRL, WE BELIEVE EVERY GIRL IS ONE MEANINGFUL CONNECTION AWAY FROM BECOMING THE HERO THEY ARE MEANT TO BE.
WHAT WE DO
WE'VE TRAINED OVER 200 GIRLS UTILIZING OUR IDENTITY CURRICULUM. OUR GOAL IS TO HELP AT- RISK GIRLS RECOGNIZE VULNERABILITIES IN THEIR HISTORY, EDUCATE THEM ON POTENTIAL NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF THESE ISSUES, AND GIVE THEM OPPORTUNITIES TO CONNECT WITH RESOURCES. WE WORK COLLABORATIVELY WITH JUVENILE PROBATION/COURT, DETENTION, FOSTER CARE AGENCIES, AT-RISK YOUTH PROGRAMS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES.
52% OF THE GIRLS WE SEE ASK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO CONNECT WITH ADULT MENTORS TO HELP PROVIDE STABILITY AND ENCOURAGEMENT. SHORT TERM DATA IN COLLABORATION WITH DAVIDSON COUNTY JUVENILE COURT PROBATION HAS SHOWN THAT GIRLS WHO TAKE THE EPIC GIRL IDENTITY TRAINING ARE LESS LIKELY TO RE-ENTER THE COURT SYSTEM.