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The Why I Rock Girls Conference is a first step in interrupting cycles that perpetuate a wide array of issues. With between 80 and 100 girls slated to attend and more than 20 of their parents as volunteers, sorority organizations dedicated to improving and empowering communities (specifically the African American community), and other community supporters, we have a prime audience for educating and empowering new experiences. Our conference is packed with educational and inspirational events, and boasts workshops and breakout sessions that have included trauma informed workshops, a healthy sexuality workshop, a preteen financial management class facilitated by Umpqua Bank, a preteen career development class, a health and wellness class facilitated by Kaiser, a natural hair workshop, a preteen makeup and beauty class with a cultural component to address self-image and body image issues that plague our girls, a preteen hygiene class, a workshop celebrating and promoting girls in STEM, personal stories, testimonials, and career panels made up of panelists who are women of color leaders in Portland. We also conduct pre and post surveys for data collection to assess the efficacy of the conference’s impact on the girls. 

Our conference is celebrating women of color. Its aim is to inspire, motivate, inform, and encourage young girls of color to appreciate their culture, promote positive self-esteem and body images, become familiar with women in Portland who can be positive mentors, and interrupt cycles that have plagued this demographic for years. Young girls of color, and particularly Black/African-American girls have been overlooked and under-resourced for years resulting in over representation in the pipeline to prison epidemic, over representation in school disciplinary systems, over representation in commercially sexually trafficked scenarios, statistically higher percentages of negative body image perceptions, poor health, poor mental health, and so much more. Trauma Informed Oregon recognized our event in a Blog they published to their website both in 2017 and in 2018. Additionally, our event received the Robert Phillips Regional Diversity Award from the Northwest Public Employees Diversity Conference.




  • Increased excitement for learning, excelling academically, and knowledgeable about what it takes to succeed academically and professionally

  • Increased awareness of women leaders as role models and methods to connect with them

  • Increased self-esteem, identity, cultural awareness, cultural and gender appreciation, and self-confidence

  • Increased awareness of career options and the steps to get there

  • Increased motivation to push through adversity, address health disparities, and promote healthy choice making

  • The experience of having a conference full of women who look like them demonstrating career success, academic success, excellence, appreciation for other women, networking, and having fun

  • Over 90% of the girls agreed or strongly agreed that the Why I Rock Girls Conference made them feel better about their skin color.

  • Over 90% agreed or strongly agreed that it made them feel better about their bodies.

  • Over 90% agreed or strongly agreed that it gave them positive images about Being Black and Female.

  • We added breakout sessions last year when in our first year we didn’t have them. The girls enjoyed these the most.

  • The most popular breakout sessions were the preteen hygiene workshop, the preteen makeup class, the girls in STEM workshop, and the natural hair workshop.

  • Additionally we almost doubled our numbers, experiencing a 76% growth from last year in the number of girls who attended. 


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