On The Avenue

Step (Right) Up: Raising Money for Mentorship

Monday, October 30, 2017
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On Thursday, October 26, mentorship nonprofit Step Up raised over $400,000 at its sixth annual Power Hour. The program pairs girls from under-resourced communities with mentors, empowering them to become confident, college-bound and career-focused.

The event was MC’d by TODAY’s Hoda Kotb. “I am in awe of these girls,” she says. “If the world is in this hands, then we’re fine. I see hope. I see optimism. They have every tool. Someone just needs to open up the door.”

Kotb reflected on the first person who opened up the door for her—news director Stan Sandroni, who gave her her first broadcast break in Greenville, MS. “Talent doesn’t matter as much as grit and determination,” she said. “So many people have so many more skills than I do. The only thing I had was that I just kept going,” reflected Kotb.

Founded in Los Angeles in 1998, Step Up now serves about 2000 girls nationwide. “What initially drew me to it was seeing the opportunity to connect communities of women and girls who normally don’t get to connect with each other,” said Step Up CEO Jenni Luke. “[Step Up] goes beyond mentorship and to connect community resources so that we’re building social capital, not just having small mentorship moments. There’s so much potential in that idea.” 

Guests gather for a cocktail reception at the Harvard Club, before a program hosted by Kotb, as well as a silent auction. The event honored Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBC Universal. “She’s one of those people who has climbed the mountaintop in her career, and instead of beating her chest and saying ‘I’m great,’ she’s the person who will lift people up,” said Kotb of her friend. Guests also heard from Step Up teen Serena, a high school senior who has benefitted from the mentorship programs that Step Up offers.

The number of attendees in the packed house “demonstrates power of mentorship,” said Luke prior to the evening’s auction. “And it demonstrates the power of New York to support girls in the city.” Money raised at this year’s event was a 90 percent increase over last year’s. 


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