If our future is dependent on the youth of today, the Madison community will have many strong women leaders in the years to come. Teenage girls from the Elver Park Neighborhood Center teen program are celebrating a grant award from the By Youth For Youth program for their “Black of Beauty” submission. This award will create a space for teens to come together, celebrate Black hair, learn hair design, and build community.
The “Black of Beauty” program has three main goals: explore and learn about Black hairstyles; practice braiding and design skills; and build community through weekly club meetings. To do this, the group will host different hair stylists once a month to teach new hair design skills. Other weekly meetings will be used to practice the skills they have learned, come together, and strengthen friendships.
“Three teens designed the proposal and helped write the By Youth For Youth grant in January. We are so proud of this group of teens,” says Jenna Stoughtenger, teen program coordinator.
The teen center will be partnering with Dear Diary, a program run through the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute. Dear Diary currently provides mentoring services at the EPNC teen program. Partners from Dear Diary will implement the Black of Beauty initiative with the youth. “The Dear Diary directors and mentors, Yanna and Andrea, are incredible and we are so lucky to have them facilitate this with the youth,” Stoughtenger adds.
EPNC youth have been planning a hair care and design group in the teen program since August 2019 during its Youth Advocacy Council meetings. The teen program serves middle and high school students who live in the Elver Park neighborhood. Students who live in this neighborhood attend four different middle schools and three different high schools. The center provides a space to come together after school and participate in academic and social clubs.
By Youth For Youth program is sponsored by the United Way of Dane County, City of Madison Community Development Division, Dane County Youth Commission, and UW-Madison Extension Dane County. The program is led by Dane County high school students.