BOLD Work Continues

By Casey Verderosa ’07, February 19, 2020
IC granted additional $1.2 million for its BOLD Women’s Leadership Network.

Ithaca College has earned a new round of funding to continue empowering female scholars through its BOLD Women’s Leadership Network. The Pussycat Foundation, established to honor the legacy of late Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown, awarded the college a grant amount of $1.2 million. That brings the three-year total to $3.5 million in funding for the BOLD program.

“I am so grateful for the tremendous ongoing support of the Pussycat Foundation. The foundation’s deep dedication to Ithaca College and to our BOLD scholars has had an incredible impact on our campus and our community,” said IC President Shirley M. Collado. “This program is near and dear to my heart, and I am proud to see it not only flourishing at IC but also complementing and affirming our commitment to activate bold thinking for a global good.”

The BOLD program, which exists across a network of universities, affords college women leadership opportunities on campus and in communities. Its hallmark “transformation project” brings the scholars together in a collaboration to effect positive social change and foster inclusive environments.

“With these women being empowered to reach their fullest potential, they are sharing that with other students on campus, and that shift has been really inspiring.”

Sam Elebiary, BOLD Program Director

In 2018, the inaugural cohort of scholars at IC chose to implement the Engaging Mental Health in People of Color (EMPOC) program on campus as its transformation project. EMPOC has since become embedded in the fabric of the college as a registered student organization.

BOLD’s second cohort is now working with Ithaca’s New Roots Charter School on Project Embolden, a mentoring initiative between high school and college students. The scholars seek to assist students in planning out their post-high school lives through a variety of pathways, including entering the workforce or going to college.

The third cohort of BOLD scholars is currently deliberating the subject of its transformation project, which it will implement in the fall of 2020.

“Now that we have three cohorts of scholars that have come through the program, we are beginning to see the network of women that it is creating,” said Sam Elebiary, BOLD Program Director. “To have alumnae in the field that are excited to stay in contact with our current scholars and answer questions about their fellowships, plans for graduate school, and eventually their careers has immeasurable positive impact on their experience in higher education. With these women being empowered to reach their fullest potential, they are sharing that with other students on campus, and that shift has been really inspiring.”

A second major component of the BOLD program provides scholars with a fellowship opportunity upon graduation, whereby alumnae may be awarded up to $40,000 for employment at a nonprofit organization that embodies the values of the program.

woman in front of a classroom door

Julissa Martinez '19 is a college coordinator at El Puente Leaders for Peace and Justice at MS 50 Community School in Brooklyn.

Eight IC alumnae are currently in their fellowship period, employed from California to Washington, D.C. and from Vermont to Florida. They are working for organizations whose missions range from advancing sustainability and community resilience to promoting women in film and television to bringing music to students’ lives.

Julissa Martinez ’19 is in fellowship at El Puente Leaders for Peace and Justice, founded in response to a wave of gang violence in the Southside community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 1980s, and whose mission is to inspire and nurture leaders for peace and justice.

“As a college coordinator at El Puente for MS 50 Community School, I provide a college access readiness curriculum to students and their families to give them the space to think about their post-secondary plan,” said Martinez. "I feel as though working in a team of strong women leaders prepared me to work in the professional setting that I'm currently in because being a BOLD scholar really challenged my professional growth from my communication skills, to my ability to work in a team, to learning how to navigate professional spaces as a woman of color."

Candace Cross ’19 is completing her fellowship with the Praxis Project, a nonprofit working to achieve health equity and justice in all communities.

As a health justice fellow, Cross said, “I have done legislative health policy work both at the national and state level, and the Praxis Project is bringing me one step closer to the scope of work I want to continue to do in my career, while also building a network of people doing impactful health justice and racial equity work all across the country. More often than not, policy is written by individuals who do not identify with the communities these policies are going to impact directly, and that has to change. I want to be in a position to be able to bring people from systems-impacted communities to the table and shape health policy that will actually improve their health outcomes.”

This most recent round of funding from the Pussycat Foundation will enable IC to enroll its fourth and fifth cohorts into the BOLD program and continue to afford opportunities for women leaders on campus, which they, in turn, have a strong tradition of paying forward.