Why Powerful Beyond Measure?
Many exceptional girls in under-resourced U.S. communities lack opportunities to access their full potential. These girls are too often defined by their communities rather than by who they could become as individuals. Powerful Beyond Measure (PBM) works with these girls, chosen for their leadership potential and desire to better their communities. PBM’s immersive, cross-cultural program enables girls from the SF Bay Area, who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to travel, to journey to Africa to see a bigger world beyond their communities, and to gain the self-knowledge, confidence, and skills they need to affect social change with concrete action.
How does PBM Work?
PBM begins with pre-trip curriculum. Working together, participants dive into deep work to explore identity and build sisterhood with one another. They’ll learn about African history, Swahili language, and begin to develop the capacity-building skills necessary for their Community Action Projects (CAP).
We bring our young leaders from the Bay Area to Africa, where they live and learn alongside their African sisters. Through complete immersion in a “culture of encounter”, participants explore issues of identity, self-esteem, and leadership from a global perspective. Traveling to Africa allows PBM participants to deepen the identity work initiated in the pre-trip sessions to a global level through peer-to-peer workshops.
Upon returning home our young women are supported in activating their own leadership through their Community Action Project (CAP). The CAP advances each young woman’s leadership identity through a project they will design and implement within their communities—building their own efficacy and developing their practical skills.
Once young women have participated in Powerful Beyond Measure, they are part of our team forever. We stay available to our alumni and connected by asking them to take on various leadership roles for current and future PBM participants. The goal of our developing alumni program is to foster a continued sisterhood between all of the young women leaders who participate in this transformative experience.
In the US, notions of identity, value, and self-worth are often closely linked with race. Many Powerful Beyond Measure participants are young women at risk of internalizing negative messaging from society regarding their value and their abilities.
Taking Powerful Beyond Measure to Africa allows the young women to imagine a larger identity for themselves no longer limited by the color of their skin or their gender identity.
PBM’s African partners are committed to investing in the female experience and empowerment with an emphasis on the African tradition of storytelling. Story exchange teaches brave vulnerability, and relatability. By learning from and participating in the African tradition of storytelling with their African hosts, Powerful Beyond Measure participants learn new ways of relating to themselves and their experiences. PBM participants gain new perspective on who they are through the shared stories of their experiences. They take that new perspective and power home with them.
The Sustained Impact of PBM
PBM believes that sustained community change must come from within. We invest in our girls to be that change. Upon return from Africa, our girls are supported by PBM and local partners to put into action their ideas for community change, through a Community Action Project (CAP) of their own design. Whether their plans are starting a club in high school, joining student government, or presenting workshops for younger students at rec centers, teachers, or church members, the journey of our PBM girls continues long after they return as they use their leadership skills and passionate voices to become leaders in their communities.