It’s not every day that one gets a call from the executive branch of the U.S. government. So, when the White House named The Evoluer House founder Cheryl Ann Wadlington as a “Champion of Change” for Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls, she immediately joined a prestigious group of Americans who’ve worked tirelessly for their community.
The “Champions of Change” program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The “Champions of Change” initiative can also be seen as an extension of the lessons President Barack Obama learned in Chicago as a community organizer. “Passion and a belief in working at the grass-roots level, I think you understand that change happens from the bottom up,” said Obama in a statement.
“The ‘Champion of Change’ honor is something that rejuvenated me,” said Wadlington. “Of course, people like me are what you would call ‘givers,’ the same thing like a pastor. We lift people up, but there are times when we need to be lifted, too. So, it is a wonderful thing that has rejuvenated me to get out here and do more in the community. It is definitely an awesome program that President Obama has created.”
Through the initiative on Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color, The White House Council on Women and Girls has worked across the federal government to identify key obstacles facing marginalized girls, including girls of color, and highlight innovative solutions to those obstacles. One key issue that girls from marginalized communities often face is access to extracurricular programs and summer enrichment activities that allow them to become stronger students, leaders and citizens. For girls to reach their full potential, they need safe and nurturing community and school environments where they can learn, grow and thrive within the school day hours and beyond. Extracurricular programs enrich their understanding of the arts and the sciences, reinforce the skills learned in school, promote health and wellness, and foster their confidence and leadership.
“Learning shouldn’t end when the school bell rings, so neither should our work to ensure every child has the opportunity to thrive,” said White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. “That’s why all young people, including marginalized girls and girls of color, deserve to have access to great after-school and summer experiences that engage their curiosity and help them grow. Our ‘Champions of Change’ are doing just that in their communities, and they’re creating a brighter future for the next generation in the process. We’re proud to lift their work at the White House, and hope other local leaders emulate the extraordinary examples they’ve set.”
Under Wadlington’s leadership, The Evoluer House has delivered award-winning empowerment programs over the past 12 years to more than 1,200 teen girls of color experiencing unique social and emotional challenges and barriers to success. According to its website, the Evoluer House “works to equip the most underserved and hard-to-reach girls in Philadelphia with essential tools to become college-bound and career-ready and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. As a testament to its success, 100 percent of Evoluer House graduates finish high school on time and 90 percent go on to attend a four-year college.”
“The data has been released, and it shows girls of color have been discriminated and mistreated across the board,” said Wadlington. “We, at Evoluer House, vow to do all we can to address these challenges and expand opportunity for girls because girls of color shouldn’t have to learn how to be resilient in the first place. I believe that girls of color really, really deserve the right to express who they are, however they define it, and without judgement — and, they deserve a world where they can be proud and unapologetic.”
The White House “Champions of Change” event will feature remarks by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and CEO and founder of Black Girls Rock! Beverly Bond and be live streamed on the White House website at whitehouse.gov/live on Friday at 11:30 a.m. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.