This Week's Use Your Life Award
Jeff Bezos, amazon.com
For more Information, please contact:
2324 University Avenue, Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55114
Web site: www.womenventure.org
A Chance to Give Back
As a former client herself, Tené Heidelberg, President of WomenVenture, says it is not enough for struggling mothers to just survive, her mission is to help them succeed.
"The women who come to us are often in crisis, they have lost their job, they are going through a divorce, and minimum wage is not going to cut it," says Tené. "A woman needs to be able to earn enough money to support herself and her children."
Women Owned Businesses
In addition to employment programs to help women find jobs that pay well, WomenVenture also supports women who dream of starting their own business.
"Women-owned businesses are often the fabric of our community...the kind of business like a corner grocery store in a community," says Tené. "First we give her a loan and then we give her the technical assistance she needs to be able to support and grow her business."
Securing Non-Traditional Jobs
The "Jobs in the Trades" program trains women for jobs in non-traditional employment — jobs that traditionally are held by men. According to Tené, women who graduate from "Jobs in the Trades" program typically earn $12 an hour — twice the amount of minimum wage.
One graduate who was a teen mom went from trying to survive on public assistance to becoming a tile setter for one of the biggest tile companies in the country. She says, "I went from being on welfare to making 42,000 dollars a year. My son's very proud of me — he thinks my job is pretty cool."
Focusing on the Next Generation
Helping mothers find better paying jobs is only part of the solution. The GirlVenture program helps young girls start realizing their dreams of economic independence early in their lives. From meeting female bank executives to construction workers, GirlVenture also exposes young girls and their mothers to the vast possibilities of careers for women.
"If we want to break the cycle of poverty, we have to start focusing on girls," says Tené. "One of things that we teach our girls is that if you want to be economically independent, you can't have a child as a teenager. None of the girls who have graduated from our program have ever become a teen mom."
Tené says, "Everyday we get to see women walking through our doors with their dreams and we help them achieve those dreams."