For many of us, the new year came with a renewed desire to get involved in our communities—we wanted to affect positive change on a local level, however big or small our role in that change may be. Here at Workspace headquarters in Brooklyn, we decided to connect with our local New York chapter of Step Up, a national organization helping to connect women with their communities.

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Founded in Los Angeles in 1998, Step Up has grown from being a small, regionally focused organization to now having a presence in four states and 23 school nationally. Step Up bridges connections between professional women and girls living or going to school in underserved communities. Through mentorship and after-school programs, young girls have a chance to meet and interact with women in various professional industries. The goal? To inspire + empower them to become confident, college-bound and career-focused women. And the statistics show that this combination of support and mentorship is working. For the past five years, 98-100% of Step Up girls have graduated high school annually. It’s no wonder that today, the network reaches more than 130,000 supporters nationwide.

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West Elm Workspace recently hosted a Step Up Pathways to Professions office tour at our Brooklyn HQ. The visit was an opportunity for Step Up students to meet and interact with the West Elm + Workspace teams, get an inside look at what it takes to bring product to market, and hear firsthand accounts of what it’s like to be a woman in the workforce. After a full day of meeting and chatting with women from different divisions of the team, we challenged the girls to put their heads together and build a marketing strategy around our Workspace collection—with a thoughtful approach + pointed messaging, they hit it out of the park.

“Step Up relies on partners like West Elm Workspace to help us bring high school girls from the classroom to the ‘boardroom’ – and showcase what an inspiring career life can look like,” Step Up CEO Jenni Luke said. “The employees who take the time to serve as mentors during these Pathways to Professions visits are helping to jump-start the dreams and aspirations of our Step Up girls, and we are grateful for this commitment to the community.”

We were honored to have shared a space with the women of Step Up—the event proved to be a true learning experience for everyone involved. With numerous ways to participate in the program, we would encourage anyone interested to reach out to the Step Up team + start the conversation about getting involved.

PH2016_NYC_SchoolsMap_v2Step Up is growing! In the 2016-17 year, Step Up is working with 360 teens at 6 partner schools in NY. By 2020, they will reach 720 teens at 10 partner schools.

Is there an organization you’re involved with creating change in the community? Tell us how you’re making an impact in the comments below.

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Josh @ The Kentucky Gent

March 8, 2017

Love initiatives like this! I work locally with Anchal Project, a global social enterprise working to provide employment to exploited women in India as well as locally in Louisville in their latest venture – Dyescape.

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