Este Lauder Societies unite WRITING CHANGE grantees for inaugural collective


In February 2022, The Este Lauder Companies announced the recipients of a $3 million literacy impact initiative, WRITING CHANGE, designed to promote equity, access, and artistic expression among communities. underrepresented and underserved, especially those of women and girls. The funding recipients represent different areas of the social and artistic landscape, but all believe that change in writing happens when inspiration is sparked by things like community, trust, and uncensored creative voice.

This initiative was inspired by Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history. Her writing and voice sparked global change and inspiration to so many. As a young poet and writer, Gorman stands on the shoulders of creative giants such as Maya Angelou, Tracy K. Smith, and Nikki Giovanni, to name a few.

In July, The Este Lauder Companies hosted a virtual roundtable for all first-year grantees, including representatives from We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit promoting literacy and diversity; WriteGirl, a mentoring organization that encourages the creativity and empowerment of girls; MIGIZI, a Minnesota-based initiative for the educational and cultural development of Native American youth; and Girls Write Now, a national organization that focuses on mentorship, community building and creative expression.

On that July evening, about a dozen smiling, unassuming faces from each of the organizations tuned in virtually from across the country. COVID-19 has left many people struggling with the idea and difficulty of how to make connections. However, that evening, everyone in the virtual space intentionally logged in due to their commitment to literacy and the development of creative voices.

Kaitlyn Patterson of We Need Diverse Books noted: We were doing such important work at such a scary time, but the work we were doing made a huge difference, so I’m so grateful to be in this room and want to recognize Este Lauder Companies and Amanda for bringing us together in this way. It’s quite remarkable.

Anna Klein, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, ESG Communications, started the evening with presentations and informed each of the rules of engagement: that there are none. The roundtable was a safe space to share, confess and proclaim what WRITING CHANGE had been for them the first year. If success were measured by the level of confidence or the degree of transformation, there would be no doubt about the incredible impact of this initiative. A variety of topics and issues were discussed as each organization and grantee discussed their experience and growth as a writer, musician, girl, woman or creator. A common theme was that of impostor syndrome and how diminishing it can lead to creativity, confidence and self-expression.

Impostor Syndrome is a gender and race issue. We know statistically that it’s such a stereotypical threat, what students of color feel when they take tests they’ve been told they’ll do poorly because they’re black, Hispanic, or Indigenous. Research shows that if a woman sees a job application and she has nine out of ten qualifications, she will believe that she is not qualified for this job whereas men who have only a handful of those qualifications will apply, Gorman said.

She further reiterated, that is, everything we talk about, from impostor syndrome to the planet, and from democracy to abortion, is about the work we do.

By the end of the session, it was clear that the creative community supported and propelled many voices during the roundtable. Transformation prevailed through mentorships, critique sessions and the liberating freedom of expression experienced by participants. It was best expressed by those who have had the incredible privilege of being part of The Este Lauder Companies’ WRITING CHANGE initiative, as shown with quotes below.

Write Girl built my confidence. We have what it takes to give the best of ourselves and [they] prepared me for college. They have a way of showing you that there are people who are really there to help you. You have to find the right people and they are the right people. -Victoria Rosales, WriteGirl mentee. I am a writer. -Asma Al-Masyabi, Girls Write Now mentee and intern.

Everything that every organization does here today has a direct impact on all those fears. We know that girls who are more literate and can read better have more reproductive control over their future destinies, Gorman concluded with a smile and smacks of air.

About the Author: GenyneHenry Boston is a lifelong educator, storytelling student, and avid book and writing enthusiast. Genyne is an aspiring children’s author and hopes the next chapter in her career will provide opportunities to create children’s literature that honors ancestral pasts, enlightens young minds, and sparks a love of reading.

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