Toronto, ON: From shelters to startups, each month Tease Tea selects an organization committed to the empowerment of women to support and highlight.
Mission: Provide an innovative mentorship experience for motivated high school girls facing multiple barriers.
Girls E-Mentorship (GEM) is a registered charitable organization that offers an innovative mentorship program for high school girls facing multiple barriers. Girls are equipped with the necessary skills to achieve their grown-up aspirations, building a diverse network of talented, vibrant women and girls to inspire and support one another.
GEM is ambitious with their vision for the future in making a change. 'By 2021, we would like to increase our program participants from 60 to 100 girls annually. As a result, our goals over the next year is to increase our operating budget and strengthen our infrastructure in order to accommodate the increase in program participants'.
When asked what has been some of the greatest challenges for scaling GEM and what has overcoming them looked like- they had this to say:
The demand for our program has been very high and unfortunately we were turning away 150 girls annually. We needed to increase our capacity quickly while maintaining the integrity and robustness of our program. The solution was a combination of finding the right corporate partners and changing the look of our educational events without changing the content.
Since Girl E-Mentorship was founded in 2012, countless girls' lives have been changed for the better. Here is a story about one girl who has benefitted from the work of GEM.
GEM Alumna, Nabela : I had the opportunity to be a part of the GEM program in both the 11th and 12th grade. I was raised in a low-income area, Flemingdon Park, where almost everyone around me had a similar upbringing; first generation Canadian, a father as a cab driver, a mother as a day-care worker, both with high expectations for their kids attending university and securing a full-time job in a reputable industry. GEM paired me with an amazing mentor, Verity, who is a strong, female leader in the business world. Her impact was invaluable. Even after I left the GEM program and started my first year at Schulich, Verity continued to stay in contact with me and provided ongoing mentorship - even though she didn’t have to.
I am currently in my last year of undergrad at the Schulich School of Business. I recently got the news that I was offered a full-time position to join RBC next fall in their rotational program. Thanks to GEM and my mentor, I realized that even though you may not come from a wealthy background, you can achieve your dreams. I strongly believe that it’s important that we invest time and money into programs like GEM, because these young females are our future and they have dreams that are bigger than the neighbourhoods they come from.
1.When/how did you get started with this organization?
I started Girls E-Mentorship (GEM) in 2012 because I had a passion to create a mentorship culture in Toronto and I had a passion to support young women who faced hardship. During my graduate studies, I needed a mentor. I was looking for someone who could help guide me towards my goals and aspirations. Many of the men in my program had mentors but despite my efforts, I could not find the help I needed. Female mentorship wasn’t the norm.
Because of that experience I became passionate about creating a program that provides mentorship to those who need it the most. Young women who face barriers. What started out as a small pilot program based in Flemington Park, has grown to an annual program that accept girls from all across the GTA.
2.What does being a “Fierce Femme” mean to you?
A Fierce Femme is someone who empowers young women to create a fierce life!
3. In what ways does it empower/support women?
GEM provides an innovative mentorship experience for high school girls facing multiple barriers. We equip our girls with the necessary skills to achieve their grown-up aspirations and build a diverse network of talented, vibrant women and girls to inspire and support one another. Our vision is that girls will reach their full potential, emerge as empowered young women and future female leaders.
4. Why was it important to you to be a part of / create this organization?
I believe that every young woman deserves a chance to succeed despite where she came from or what challenges she has faced.
5. What women do you look up to in your life, why?
I look up to so many women. Of course I admire anyone who has overcome challenges and has reached their full potential. I look up to public figures such as, Madelaine Albright, Tara Westover, Michelle Obama but I also look up to the women who surround me every day. The Fierce Femmes who work for GEM, who volunteer for GEM and who have made mentorship their passion. They have taught me so much.
To learn more about GEM, to get involved by becoming a mentor, joining one of their committees, or attending and supporting their fundraising events CLICK HERE