“Get Engaged (in Your Community) with Tiffany Hanson” is a series exploring community engagement opportunities in Indianapolis.
In 2014, the simple idea to bring like-minded women together to share experiences and “see what happens next” ignited a vision of women uplifting and empowering other women. This vision materialized into a robust foundation for women to support women along their professional journeys, effectively “passing the torch” to one another to spread the spark of success. The foundation expanded to create a lasting investment in the advancement of women, and now Pass the Torch for Women Foundation leaves a legacy for future generations through mentorship and the other important work they do.
Executive Director Samantha Burke eloquently shared, “Mentorship is a beautiful reciprocation of pouring into someone else’s cup and having the result of your own cup being filled — an overflow of wealth of knowledge and inspirational transfer between two people that lead us all to be better leaders, better people.”
HOW PASS THE TORCH FOR WOMEN FOUNDATION HELPS
Pass the Torch for Women Foundation cultivates a space designed for women to grow through fostering new relationships, developing new skills, and building the confidence to use them. Their team has built a community where women create opportunities for each other — together.
Through their formalized mentoring program, the Foundation serves those who are entering the workforce, making a career pivot, or are midway through their career.
“As the catalyst needed to invest in our community, mentorship allows us to lift one another higher than perhaps we ourselves have been lifted before. It has been an honor to watch the transformation of lives through our program and we invite everyone to the Foundation to serve as a mentor and/or mentee,” Burke explained.
Their mentee base is composed of Project Grow students and alumna. The Project Grow program invests in college students who identify as women, historically serving single mothers, first generation college students, immigrants, and those from marginalized communities. Through the Project Grow program, the Foundation has served over 1,000 female college students to date.
Lachelle Norton participated in the 2022 Project Grow program and is also a student and an entrepreneur.
Norton shared that the support she gained through the program helped her to understand the importance of building a professional network, especially for someone who was starting a new career or business. She explained that the program has helped her intentionally consider and narrow down decisions about her long-term career goals. “This program has given me the ability to know what I want when it comes to my success,” Norton shared.
“Sometimes it brings me to tears that God put in place an organization like this to help women like me to believe in myself again and there is a purpose for me in this life,” Norton added.
MEET AKILAH DARDEN, PASS THE TORCH VICE CHAIR AND LEGACY LEADER
Akilah Darden serves as the vice chair for the Foundation’s board of directors and also as a Legacy Leader. Darden explained that the mission of the Foundation is important to her because she didn’t have the support and guidance of a mentor early in her own career.
Darden now runs her successful construction management company, has published a children’s book about women in her industry, is committed to uplifting and growing supplier diversity initiatives, and has recently won several awards, including being named an Indianapolis Business Journal 2021 Woman of Influence.
With these accomplishments under her belt and responsibilities on her plate, Darden still intentionally makes time to give back by helping other women through her service with the Pass the Torch for Women Foundation. “Being able to encourage, empower, inspire, and ignite one’s greatness by assisting other women through adversities and most importantly cheering them on to reach for their full potential is super gratifying and fills my cup,” Darden shared.
In addition to fostering mentorship relationships, Darden shared a list of ways in which she’s seen the Foundation and the direct support of mentors help women in Indiana during her years of service:
- Connecting mentees with experts in the fields where the mentee needs assistance.
- Supporting renters as they become homeowners with a payment plan to be debt-free in 10 years.
- Providing assistance for bills and necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Connecting mentees with access to affordable housing and reliable transportation.
- Locating food and shelter when needed.
- Assisting with college tuition payments.
- Helping entrepreneurs through their journey from launching to thriving, and anywhere in between.
And this powerful cohort of women needs your support to continue on with this important work.
PUT A RING ON IT - WAYS TO GET ENGAGED
“Donations and engagement from community members help ensure that our programs can flourish and continue to extend the work of our mission to every woman looking to grow her career,” Burke explained.
So, how can Mavens like you get engaged?
- Donate your time as a mentor.
- Darden highly recommends volunteering to become a mentor, citing her own success to encourage more to consider it. “If I could be honest, it was because of my mentees that I stepped out into entrepreneurship. They’ve inspired me so much. The more I talked to them, encouraged them … I turned around and had the same talk with myself.”
- Visit the Volunteer Mentors page to learn more about how you can get involved and how to join the programs or contact the team directly at email@example.com to get started.
- Recommend a mentee.
- Provide financial support.
- Consider a donation to the Carla Perinne Perry Scholarship fund, Need Based Fund, or the General Fund.
- Mark your calendar for Nov. 17, 2022, for the signature Pass the Mic event, an annual in-person celebration that honors the stories of Indianapolis community members who “pass the torch” to others and ignite change.
- Quality connections, delicious food and cocktails, and treats from local women-owned businesses will be ample, with a keynote speech delivered by celebrity chef Tanorria Askew and entertainment provided by DJ Gabby Love, artist Ashley Nora, and many more!
- Find information about tickets to Pass the Mic here.
You also won’t want to miss their annual spring event to celebrate International Women’s Day! Keep up with their special events and programming by subscribing to their newsletter. You can also check out their Torch Talk podcast series and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
All of our content—including this article—is completely free. However, we’d love it if you would please consider supporting our journalism with an Indy Maven membership.