Put the ME in EmpowerMEnt

Put the ME in EmpoweMEnt is a leadership building experience for young women with the goal of bolstering self-confidence through community.

Photo of Marciana Castillo
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  • Education

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

August 3, 2001

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757-676-2673 Virginia: Norfolk (23502)

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Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

During middle and high school, young women become pressured to look and act a certain way, resulting in many of them losing their confidence. According to the Dove Self Esteem Fund, “7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way.” In schools, the importance of confidence is not prioritized, & Put the ME in EmpowerMEnt aims to educate and empower young women to believe in themselves & that they can make a change.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Put the ME in EmpowerMEnt will include a three day leadership summit, packed with workshops, seminars, talks, and activities with the goal of encouraging each participant and bolstering their confidence in a motivational environment. There will be female speakers and mentors from different fields, including business, government, entertainment, the medical field, etc. to talk about their journeys and experiences. Workshops will include topics such as self care, organization, prioritization, balancing school and extracurriculars, and fitness, and explore their relationship with confidence. The summit will take place in a hotel or college campus where participants stay overnight for two nights to fully immerse themselves in the positive environment. After the summit, there will be an ongoing website and blog where alumni and prospective participants for the next year of the program can find resources/opportunities, and of course, connect with each other to maintain the community aspect. Each year, alumni will be invited back to apply to be mentors for the new participants.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Throughout my life I have needed reassurance that I was “good enough.” Middle/high school is when girls start figuring out what they want to do in the future, and begin experiencing rejection and failure. This can be overwhelming, and society’s expectations and the toxicity of social media makes it even harder. In middle and high school, there were so many times when I felt confused, unaccepted, and had no idea what to do, as the school system does not prepare young girls for these hardships. I began to regain my confidence when I participated in organizations that were dedicated to empowering young women by offering resources, networks, and motivation. I soon realized that I needed to give back to the girls in my community who may not have access to the same opportunities. By providing this support early on, young girls will become confident women, prepared to impact the society.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story!

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Day 1: -Registration + settle into rooms -Program Overview & Welcome -Break into Chapter groups, Introductions -Dinner -Chapter Challenges: Community, Collaboration, & Confidence -Ice cream social -Lights out Day 2: -Breakfast -Daily overview -Keynote speaker -Workshops: •Organization Station •Self Care •Positive speaking •Fitness -Lunch -Treasure hunt/escape room -Panel—service members, gov’t, doctors, teachers, etc. -Snack -Breaking stereotypes & stigmas activity -Break -Dinner-mentors sit with participants -Prepare for headshots -Professional headshots -Movie night -Lights out Day 3: -Breakfast -Daily overview -Keynote speaker -Focusing on the future -10 year plans -Lunch in groups, present plans -All about rejection -Compliments: how to give & receive -Role models-talk -Writing letters to future self -Pack up rooms -Conclusion

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Science, athletic, & wilderness camps are beneficial, but what about a program that teaches young women about confidence & leadership? Put the ME in EmpowerMEnt differs from traditional educational programs, as it focuses on a topic that is not frequently taught: confidence & leadership. This organization aims to empower young women to challenge themselves & truly have the confidence to speak up, and be able to advocate for themselves & others. There are not many programs that focus on engaging female youth to better themselves to be the most positive, bold, assertive women that they can be.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Social media would be a great indicator regarding Put the ME in EmpowerMEnt’s impact. After gaining a social media following, different alumni could be highlighted weekly and opportunities could be posted in order to encourage and attract new community members. Another way to see if the organization is making a difference, is by seeing how many participants come back the following year as alumni to help run sessions and create a positive experience for other young women. The program will be intimate, as only 25 girls will be able to attend. Although this number seems small, word of mouth is always effective. The 25 participants can tell their friends and family, who may become interested in getting involved in the program, and so on and so forth.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Currently, I would like to focus Put the ME in EmpowerMEnt on my direct community. In the future, I plan to expand statewide, then nationwide, so more female youth can participate in 3 days of personal growth, development, friendship, & mentorship. I would also like to begin a website & social media for Put the ME in EmpowerMEnt, which will provide resources (from self care to college help) & opportunities for young women to build character, as well as their resumes. The website will be designed so that alumni & other community members can submit their ideas & opportunities. I would like Put the ME in EmpowerMEnt to encourage collaboration & connectivity through an uplifting community, both in person, at the summit, & digitally.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

HERlead Fellowship


Join the conversation:

Photo of VOLTS Volunteer Tech Support

I really like this idea, between the recent media, and the overall gender view changes, I think this is a great way to empower others - especially young girls who are constantly influenced by the environment around them.

Photo of Meagan

Great idea! If you have not yet, check out Riley's Way. I was invited to a retreat similar to this last month. It was girls only, and had a lot of the elements which you want to include! It was also their first retreat!

Photo of Stormy Barajas

This is a great idea, I enjoyed reading about this project
I would like to hear more about researching other players in this space and articulate in full detail how this project is different to get a complete sense of how this compares to others. Looking forward and hoping to see this come to fruition

Photo of Tiffany Baltierra

Marciana, thanks for empowering women in such a unique way. Confidence is a skill that is overlooked and not always a priority. Thank you for doing your part