Dr. Courtney Robinson started the Spark Change Project to empower girls of color and help them find their voice so they can become who they want to be. The project helps girls become leaders who advocate for their communities — even before lawmakers.
Dr. Robinson shares, “We want to hear that Spark Change girls are everywhere. They are in healthcare, they’re in education, they’re in government. They are making a space for themselves and creating space for other people.”
Meet Dr. Courtney Robinson: leadership mentor
Dr. Courtney empowers black and brown girls to get involved with local law policy.
Dr. Courtney Robinson: As a sixth grader or as a seventh grader, as an eighth grader, my own identity was challenged in so many ways. I grew up in predominantly white schools. So I often wasn’t clear about my own racial identity. I grew up at a time where there were true boundaries placed on who girls could be and who they could become.
I’m originally from Texas, born and raised, but moved to Washington, D.C. when I was 18 years old to go to undergrad at Howard University, and then moved back to Texas. And when I moved back to Texas, I really started to explore my family history. I wanted to go back to grad school. And so I began doing work around what was happening in the juvenile justice system.
The Spark Change Project is designed for girls of color to find their voice, and who they want to be and become. Excellence and Advancement Foundation — our mission is to disrupt the relationship between race, schooling, and incarceration.
With Girls Empowerment Network, they are laser focused at ensuring that girls have self-efficacy. And then we just started talking about “Why don’t we partner? Why aren’t our organizations doing something together?” We hired five girls. Those five girls are considered our peer facilitators. Those facilitators are really the ones who are navigating all of our activities. So they hosted a town hall. They hosted Advocacy Day. They will host a camp. And our big goal was for girls to testify for the legislature in 2023. But these girls were so fantastic, so extraordinary, that they actually testified this year.
(One of the peer facilitators speaks from behind a podium to the Committee on Public Education.)
Girl 1: Thank you, Chairman Dutton and committee for allowing student voices to be heard today. I’m a student at Thomas Jefferson High School, and I’m here today in full support of SB-179.
Girl 2: Good morning, committee. I appreciate the opportunity to speak in support of Senate Bill 179 today.
Dr. Courtney: We want to hear that Spark Change girls are everywhere. They are in healthcare, they’re in education, they’re in government. They are making a space for themselves and creating space for other people.
If we raise women to be as powerful and as dynamic and feel like they can do anything that men can do, and if we help people of color realize that the systems that continue to hold them in place, can actually benefit them, and they can change those systems, and they can be powerful, and as wonderful as people who are not people of color, how can we not have a better world?
(The peer facilitators stand together and hold up handmade motivational posters.)
Girl 3: I love Dr. Robinson.
Dr. Courtney: I think faith is probably the biggest thing because faith is hope for what we do not see. And so when we’re uncertain about what we don’t see, but we’re hopeful, the possibilities are still there. And so I just have a lot of faith that we can be better —