BRAVE Girls Leadership Hosting Fundraiser Luncheon

Meaghan Davis, the founder of the West Hartford-based nonprofit BRAVE Girls Leadership, wants more people to know about the organization's mission.

She'll attempt to do that on Dec. 2, when the group hosts a fundraiser luncheon at the Elmwood Community Center.

BRAVE, which gives young women and girls a chance to achieve self-empowerment, was founded in West Hartford in 2013. There are currently five BRAVE programs in town, located at King Philip Middle School, Sedgwick Middle School, Duffy Elementary School, Smith STEM School, and the University of Saint Joseph.

BRAVE currently serves more than 300 students, with approximately 50 percent of them living in Hartford County.

But the key to the fundraiser, Davis said, is handing over its reigns to the college members of the group.

"It's their voice," Davis said. "That's so important. One thing that makes BRAVE unique and makes it so successful is that we give students agency and power and responsibility and ownership over these projects. It increases their incentive to buy in. That helps them become self-empowered and become their best self and become leaders."

At the luncheon, guests will hear from all levels of BRAVE. Panels made up of student members ranging from elementary school students to college students will discuss their different experiences with BRAVE. Davis hopes this will help acclimate outsiders to the mission.

"We want more people to know what BRAVE is," Davis said. "The students are going to be at the center of this. It's organized and run by students, which is something BRAVE does regularly and something we're proud of."

One of the students involved in running the luncheon is Nicole Ware, a senior at UConn. Ware, an intern with BRAVE, has been charged with planning the luncheon.

"It has been an amazing learning experience," Ware said. "Not only I have learned what it takes to plan a fundraiser like this, but also that I was capable of doing it."

Ware said BRAVE has been an empowering experience.

"BRAVE has given me the opportunity to push my limits and try new things," Ware said. "I feel safe and comfortable when I am in a BRAVE space. BRAVE does amazing things for the world and it just feels really good to be a part of an organization that genuinely cares."

Also part of the process is Emma Whitmore, who is also a UConn student.

"Working on events for BRAVE is always a great experience and this event has been no exception," Whitmore said. "I have learned about what it takes to make an event like this run and the importance of being involved. We are, as an intern team, making this event happen and without the valuable work of each and every one of us, it would not happen."

Mar Amador, another UConn student, is part of Whitmore and Ware's team.

"This has certainly been a huge learning experience," Amador said. "I have never been behind the scenes of an event like this before. It's really cool to see everyone's hard work coming together."

Davis said the money raised at the luncheon will benefit BRAVE in a few ways. It will help take care of the nonprofit's day-to-day operations and will also support student programming, mentor programming, workshops, and service learning projects. Members of BRAVE recently traveled to the Dominican Republic, and Davis wants more BRAVE members to have that chance.

"It's important for everyone to understand in more depth where the money goes," Davis said. "The impact on students is powerful."

Luncheon tickets can be purchased online at girlsarebrave.org.

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