Written by: Marianne Ceballos, in collaboration with Rise Up staff. 

Rise Up and the Unity Council are partnering for the first time ever to implement the Girls’ Voices Initiative here in California. The Unity Council will work with up to 70 young girls to design and lead advocacy plans to address the issues that impact them most.

Rise Up’s Girls’ Voices Initiative enables girl leaders to achieve their potential and create change in their communities. The Unity Council, with its long-standing history of serving the Oakland and Fruitvale community, will adapt and implement Rise Up’s Girls’ Voices curriculum supporting adolescent girls to become leaders and speak out for their right to stay healthy,  finish school,  and live safe from violence. This girl-centered approach combines experiential learning with training in planning advocacy activities to engage policy-makers and decision-makers using storytelling,  communications campaigns,  public forums, and strategic meetings.

This initiative will build on the success of The Unity Council’s Latinx Mentoring and Achievement Program (LMA), which serves girls and gender-expansive youth in Oakland, by adding a focus on girl-centered advocacy and serving additional 25-30 girls, ages 13-18. The program is in its planning stages and is slated to begin in Spring 2022, with the recruitment of girl leaders and 40 hours of training from the Girls’ Voices curriculum and will culminate in a Summer program in which girls lead advocacy action plans and report on their activities and successes.  We look forward to sharing updates on our work together through this initiative and will be reaching out to key local government officials, community leaders, school board members, and parents to meet with girls and discuss their experiences and issues. 

If you have any questions about this new Oakland based initiative, feel free to reach out to Marianne Ceballos, Associate Director Youth Services at the Unity Council,  mceballos@unitycouncil.org and cell: (510) 671 -1534. Questions about Rise Up can be directed to Josie Ramos, Director of Learning and Programs at jramos@riseuptogether.org.