Polished Pebbles is a Chicago-based nonprofit that has served more than 10,000 girls locally and in Jamaica, South Africa, and Kenya. The organization serves girls between the ages of 7 and 17, providing programs focused on professional development and communication. Its programs have shown remarkable outcomes with 95 percent of participants engaging in career development opportunities with support from the organization. Polished Pebbles hopes to continue its work to address inequities in opportunities for Black and Brown girls in Chicago.
Polished Pebbles’ work is guided by a mission to address the “hope gap” for Black and Brown girls. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing issues like social isolation, education access, and mental health challenges. Due to disruptions in learning, many girls struggled to gain skills needed to be successful in the employment market. Polished Pebbles believes effective change requires communication and exposure to professional career pathways so that young girls can envision themselves in ambitious professions. In doing so, Polished Pebbles hopes to disrupt the cycle of poverty and despair in Chicagoland communities, a cycle that limits girls’ potential and increases their risk of becoming involved with the criminal justice system.
The Girls Opportunity Alliance Fund will support Polished Pebbles’ Every Girl is a CEO (EGCEO) Summer Work-Study program. EGCEO is a six-week professional development program that combines workshops and hands-on training to prepare girls for success in the workplace. The program will pay girls for 20 hours each week, and participants will learn and practice how to fill out employment applications, interview for jobs, and engage in professional communication. Polished Pebbles will also collaborate with local businesses, nonprofits, and other institutions to offer shadow day opportunities.
Polished Pebbles began implementing this program in 2019 and has employed 400 girls to date. Girls who previously participated in EGCEO provided overwhelmingly positive feedback. One participant wrote, “The most important thing I learned is that Black women can do anything.” Through this project, the organization will continue providing a life-changing program that inspires young girls of color to discover their full potential as ambitious, capable young women.
Polished Pebbles hopes to shape the next generation of girls who will go on to become leaders in their professions and mentors to other women of color, fostering equitable workplaces where women of color are heard, supported, and valued. To learn more about Polished Pebbles, please visit the organization’s website and social media pages: