In March of 2019, Sophia De La Cruz attended Youth Impact! Forum in New York with a plan for her project "Girls Here and There." Due to her personal experience with mentors, and her growing awareness of a need for female equitable education and leadership development, she decided to create an international, multilingual mentoring organization focused on female education and empowerment. Inspired by her bilingual parents, her mentees, and a research thesis on barriers to female education, she created a plan to empower and educate girls, connecting them across oceans.
After gaining support and funding for her project at the Forum, Sophia began communicating with various organizations, successfully establishing a partnership with Reborn Outreach in Dominican Republic and the Amani Hope Foundation in Zimbabwe.
Sophia has several years of experience as the president of a mentoring and literacy organization called "Teen Trendsetters", created by Barbara Bush, which connects 2nd grade students reading below-grade-level with peer mentors. She also served as a bureau member at Montessori Model United Nations, where she helped facilitate Middle School conferences. Along with leadership positions, Sophia has benefitted from experience with her own digital mentor. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and is currently developing her Russian through an intensive language program in Moldova.
Sophia De La Cruz - Founder
Melanie Gaige is a senior at Harrison School for the Arts and is bound for Florida State University in the fall. There she will major in elementary education and have the opportunity to intern in an actual classroom in her senior year. Her experience with the Girls Here and There program has helped her establish this career path, and she truly enjoys working with all the girls and helping them define their reading skills.
In addition to GHT, she volunteers with a local theatre program designed for the special needs community. At the end of every semester, the individuals and volunteers in the program put on a free performance for the community. Melanie offers a helping hand to her church as a member of the audio/visual team, as well. She is also an elected leader of the student government at her school. She has lead a successful community and school food drive during the Thanksgiving season and has organized meetings for the student government.
Despite her busy schedule, Melanie still manages to find time to do some of her favorite things: going on nature walks, shopping at thrift stores, and dancing with her friends.