Education has the power to break the cycle of poverty. Those words encourage the groundbreaking nonprofit She’s the First to fulfill its mission to sponsor scholarships for girls in low-income countries, helping them to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school.
Last week, Viacommunity, the social responsibility umbrella for Viacom, hosted the She’s the First Awards Ceremony during the nonprofit’s fourth annual Leadership Summit in New York City. More than 150 high school and college students from 35 states convened at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters to celebrate their shared goal to raise funds and awareness for education equality.
“We are so grateful to Viacom and Viacommunity for aligning its commitment to education with She’s the First,” said She’s the First founder Tammy Tibbetts. “Just like Viacom, we are committed to seeing more youth worldwide reach their graduation milestones.”
The She’s the First campus leaders are responsible for fundraising on their campuses and in their communities. This school year, they raised more than $115,000 in scholarship aid. From running marathons and hosting cupcake bake sales, the students always find new ways to take action. This ceremony highlighted all of their hard work with awards like Student Leader of the Year and Chapter of the Year, among others. Many students in attendance were visiting New York for the first time, so they were completely surprised to see the She’s the First video streaming on Viacom’s Times Square billboards all night.
“The She’s the First Campus Awards Ceremony was beyond our wildest dreams,” said Tibbetts. “When our students saw #STFSummit on the digital billboard, they were reminded that anything is possible with hard work and a unified voice. They knew that Viacom believed in their potential to fulfill our audacious mission: To be the generation that ends education inequality. We are enormously grateful.”
This partnership launched when Viacom’s Scratch invited Tibbetts and She’s the First to Viacom for a “speed consulting” breakfast to help the growing nonprofit with their communication and marketing strategy. That breakfast two years ago grew into the support of the Awards Ceremony, an event rooted in community that champions millennials to make a difference as global citizens. It was an emotional night for many because the event was missing the presence of the spirited Rebecca Draper Townsend, Founder of the Immaculate High School chapter in Connecticut.
“During the Award Ceremony, students were inspired by the excellence and dedication of their fellow chapters, and, in particular, we were able to present a very meaningful award, the first-ever Rebecca Draper Townsend Student of the Year Award, in a setting that did justice to the lively, sparkling flash Rebecca was in our lives,” said Tibbetts. “We lost Rebecca in a car accident earlier this summer. Her parents joined us for this reception to honor Rebecca’s memory by recognizing a student leader who upheld her enthusiasm and dedication to the cause. The founders of our Uganda partner school, where Rebecca’s chapter sponsors a girl named Joy, were also present to present Rebecca’s family with a photo of Joy and to share firsthand accounts of the difference Rebecca made on others in her short lifetime.”
She’s the First and the legacy of Rebecca Draper Townsend prove that one person can have a profound impact on others, the community and the world.
See more photos from the event here.