September was a rough month.
The news of Ruth Bader Ginsberg passing away and the court ruling on Breonna Taylor’s case left many feeling disheartened and frustrated. In a year that has given us so many hardships, we were feeling the weight of it all.
Having worked in the nonprofit sector, specifically in the racial equity space, I learned that to be resilient in emotionally heavy work, one must recognize and feel both the celebratory moments and the extremely difficult ones.
So while it had been a difficult month, I was grateful to celebrate a really good moment.
On Thursday, September 24th, Segment was invited to attend the Glow Up Awards, a night to celebrate New Door Ventures and the accomplishments of their Bay Area program participants.
Earlier this year, Segment and New Door launched a new partnership to support young folks pursuing economic mobility and independent adulthood.
Over the past few months, our team provided career development opportunities through mock interviews and career roundtables. On this night, we were honored to join their Glow Up Awards as sponsors and supporters.
A small and mighty team of us came together to show up for this momentous occasion. We had all been involved with the partnership in different capacities, so we were invested and ready to meet their broader community.
Also, what a wonderful reason to get all dressed up during months of quarantine! After a 30 minute hangout, the ceremony was about to begin.
We were first greeted by New Door Ventures CEO Omar Butler. He was streaming from New Door’s Bay Area headquarters, a space typically brimming with activity among team and community members before the pandemic. He started by describing “glow up” as a transformation and an opportunity to grow, rise up, and mature.
Like many nonprofits, New Door Ventures faces significant challenges due to COVID-19. Yet, in his team and community, he saw a transformation that would enable them to rise above these challenges through inner strength and resilience. All the more reason to celebrate the accomplishments of their program youth.
The night then went on to acknowledge three incredible Glow Up award recipients. These young folks had joined New Door Ventures to seek educational and career growth opportunities, and they demonstrated strong values and commitment in their journeys.
The first recipient was Brenda.
She shared her challenges with maintaining eye contact, being extremely shy, and speaking with confidence.
Through New Door, she participated in workshops and coaching centered around communication skills. She then landed an internship at the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, where she leaned into her discomfort and pushed herself to overcome these challenges in a customer-facing capacity. She excelled and was ecstatic to share that she had landed a full-time job with them.
Looking to the future, she expressed her interest in learning more about architecture. See Brenda’s story here.
The next Glow Up Award recipient was Christian.
I was deeply appreciative of Christian sharing his story. Coming from an unsupportive environment and not feeling like he was ever good enough, he joined New Door Ventures in the hopes of finding guidance and direction.
On-screen, he was joined by Imani, his case manager, who spoke of the importance of mentorship and a support system that reminds you that “you are strong.” Learning about his interests and skills, Imani connected Christian with the Crucible in Oakland, where he was able to build on his existing construction skills.
In a heartfelt moment, Christian’s father came on screen, expressing how proud he is of his son, who now attends college and wishes to become a mental health therapist.
See Christian’s story here.
Towards the end of the night, we heard about the last Glow Up Award recipient Jenn.
She made an amazing impression on the New Door Ventures team and joined them as a senior intern. She showcased strong adaptability, supporting the organization with numerous responsibilities, including workshop coordination and payment processing.
She recently accepted a full-time role in New Door’s Evaluation & Learning Team, to continue to support youth programming.
See Jenn’s story here.
Something that is important to mention: Jenn’s Glow Up Award was named in honor of Joshua Duckworth, a New Door youth who recently passed away. Space was held at the event to remember Joshua’s life and celebrate the impact he had on others. This moment was another validating reminder that we need to recognize the big wins and hard losses.
On this night, New Door Ventures exemplified how a community can come together to do both.
During the evening, I also enjoyed hearing from Dr. Akilah Cadet, Founder of Change Cadet, an Oakland based diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging consulting firm. She shifted the focus to prevalent issues we face in our country, including racial injustice.
She acknowledged the challenges communities of color face in today’s climate. She spoke to her experience navigating predominantly white spaces as a Black woman. She reminded me of something that we’ve been sharing a lot at Segment. We all have a responsibility to be more vocal and active against racism in all its forms. In her words, it sometimes means not just being an ally but “becoming an accomplice.” It means actively dismantling systems of oppression and racism.
Lastly, she addressed a harsh reality. BIPOC youth are extremely vulnerable in today’s world. There is much work to be done to ensure this community feels safe and valued.
As the night wrapped up, Dr. Cadet’s last message about BIPOC youth stuck with me. We have a great responsibility when it comes to racial equity and justice. That’s why organizations like New Door Ventures are so important.
They are on the frontlines, working directly with disadvantaged communities and looking to those with the power to join them. It’s us against a system that is inequitable and unfair. So it’s up to us to disrupt that system and push for a future where every young person has the tools and resources they need to be successful.
Congratulations to the New Door team on an incredible event and to their youth award recipients. Thank you for allowing us to celebrate this moment with you. Y’all should be extremely proud of all that you have accomplished!