Wrapping Up A Year of Thanks

We’re getting ready to open our fifth cycle in January to nominations. Before we do, we want to take a moment to share our achievements in 2018 and our priorities for 2019.

Building Students’ Confidence

Students at the end of their first year with JMB Award answer a survey to help us understand our impact.

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2018 accomplishments: Survey responses show being part of the JMB Award community increased 100% of our students’ confidence in their ability to advocate for themselves at college, find the resources they need, and make informed decisions. The same survey revealed two-thirds felt the experience left them with a better understanding of their finances.

2019 priorities: Identifying partnerships and programs for building out our financial empowerment curriculum.

Read more >>

Turn #GivingTuesday into #GivingToiletries

Have you checked the cost of toothpaste or tampons recently? If you have, you know they and other toiletries add up to a hefty receipt. All of these items are needed by our young women and, frankly, finding the necessary money can be a struggle.

That's why between now and November 27 we invite you to turn #GivingTuesday into #GivingToiletries. Our goal is to reach this day with nine toiletry kits filled for our girls on the go.

3 Steps >>

  1. Review our Target registry list: tgt.gifts/GivingToiletries

  2. Look for our most-wanted items and items that fit your budget. You may also purchase a Target card or make a donation and let us take it from there. Your $75 gift will purchase a complete kit.

  3. Purchase and ship. Your items will come direct to us. You can also arrange for an in-store pickup and avoid shipping charges. To do so, make sure to select “Add an alternate pickup person” and enter “Fran Melmed” when asked for full name and “info@jmbaward.com” when asked for email. Our store is Philadelphia SE, 1 Mifflin Street, Philadelphia, 19148.

Following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday invites individuals to indulge in giving back.

Yours in indulging.
JMB Award

JMB Award Summer Service Project Helps Women Against Abuse

Community service is an elemental part of what we do at JMB Award. Our nominated students must have a track record of giving back to their community, and we hope they keep giving back on their own time. It makes sense that we couldn't wait to create an opportunity for us to give back together. 

That happened this past weekend when we held our first summer service project! Refathun Momo, our 2015 recipient, and Fran Melmed, our founder, designed a day in partnership with Women Against Abuse, an organization providing physical, legal, and political support to women and children escaping situations of domestic violence. 

We started with a hike along Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Valley Park followed by a picnic, and then the work began. Together we stuffed nearly 50 individual bags of items for the women and kids before we participated in a Women Against Abuse workshop on speaking up for ourselves without putting others down. 

Thanks to ALL donors who helped us fill the bags without draining our budget!
Dana of Dr. Philip Springer's office holds kids toothbrushes for our bags. 

Retreat Offered Time to Hang, Time to Learn

Our second annual summer retreat proved an irresistible and inspiring mix of learning, bonding, laughing, and growing. 

Awardees and their mentors gathered in July for a day packed with impressive guest speakers. We were treated to sessions on:

  • Mindfulness and guided meditation with local instructor, Ji Sun Chong
  • Budgeting and credit basics with Single Stop's Paula Umana
  • Career navigating and networking with Karen Lewis from Drexel University
  • Moving from immigrant to entrepreneur with the CEO of ROAR for Good, Yasmine Mustafa
  • Finding our voice and our narrative with Philly Slam League's founder, Matt Kay

"It was relatable and gave me confidence and inspiration to overcome struggle," remarked one awardee about hearing Yasmine's story. Another shared how the financial session "answered so many questions I have, and it was great being able to hear advice and answers from so many people." 

Awardees weren't the only ones who benefited from the day's content. The day "made me feel more comfortable addressing self-care with myself!," shared one mentor while another admitted "I didn't want to do the slam poetry when I saw it on the agenda and I didn't want to do it as we started. Now that we've done it, I'm going to incorporate it into my routine."

Our retreat is designed to build skills and connections to draw from throughout the school year. We feel certain we met our objective.

Welcome, 2018 Class!

We are thrilled to introduce you to our 2018 class. Please join us in congratulating and welcoming:

Treasure Sankoh, the graduation speaker at William L. Sayre High School, Treasure heads next to Community College of Philadelphia.

Serina Franco, a rising senior at Kensington Health Sciences Academy who dreams of being a nurse practitioner. 

Davina Loibman, a graduate of Mastery Charter - Pickett who's attending Penn State in the fall. 

Symone Johnson, a nominee from Camp Sojourner and graduate of Mastery Charter - Thomas. Symone's committed to Bloomsburg University.

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Women's History Month Quiz

Women's History Month came into being, officially and in the U.S., in 1987. (We all know women have been making history long before and since then.) Originally recognized for a week, Women's History Month now runs the month of March. 

We're celebrating the women who have motivated and influenced us and inviting you to join in. Tell us who inspires you? Who helped make you who you are? What woman, real or fictional, do you draw upon on a rough day or during a rough patch?

Submit your answers to our quiz and then follow along on Facebook. We'll be posting answers throughout the month of March.

Name *
Name
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Love Series: Nina McPhaul, Recipient and Mentee

At JMB Award, we're fostering a community of love and support that lasts beyond a single day. We asked members of our community to share why they love JMB Award. These are their stories.

When Fran called to ask if I would apply for the JMB Award, I thought it was a scam and I was ready to hang up. She assured me it wasn’t, and we laughed about it as I searched through my emails to find the application to assure myself it was legit. I quickly sent essays I had been working on and hoped that I was the “girl with grit” they were looking for. I hadn’t realized how much that phone call would impact my life.

 Photo: Art + Life Photography

Photo: Art + Life Photography

Honestly, I applied for the monetary aspect of the award because I thought I already had too many mentors. It took me only a few months to realize how much more valuable the relationships were than the generous travel stipend I received. They have taught me that one can never have too many mentors, too big of a network, or too much support.

I so deeply appreciate the circle of women constantly supporting my dreams. They have opened up doors for me that I didn’t even know were there and have constantly challenged me to take the risks I’d always been so scared to take. There have been so many opportunities that I felt cut off from that they have given me the opportunity to experience.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my beautiful, thoughtful, and deeply knowledgeable mentors Elena and Fran for helping me to grow, and to all of the women who are part of the JMB Award.

 

Help us secure a Double The Love donor match. A generous, anonymous donor pledged $2,000 if we can raise $2,000 by the end of this week. Give today >> 

 

Love Series: Anita Doncaster, Donor

At JMB Award, we're fostering a community of love and support that lasts beyond a single day. That doesn't mean we aren't susceptible to the allure of days dedicated to love. In recognition of Galentine's Day and Valentine's Day, we asked members of our community to share why they love JMB Award. These are their stories.

What I love about being a JMB Award donor can be summed up this way:

  • I love the emphasis on grit. To me, girls with grit are tenacious, creative, and unwavering in their pursuit of their goals—all traits I encourage and nurture in my own daughter.
  • I love the spirit of the award. Out of incredible loss came the opportunity to give girls who have everything it takes to be successful an extra hand, a vote of confidence, and the knowledge that there’s someone who has their back.
  • Finally, I’ve been following the trajectory of the JMB Award, and I’m so impressed by how the scope of the award has expanded to include focus on not just the financial, but also the emotional well-being of the award recipients.

I’m mom to a 15-year-old girl, so supporting the JMB Award is a no-brainer. I can’t wait to see how the award program will grow and add even more value for these girls!

Help us secure a Double The Love donor match. A generous, anonymous donor pledged $2,000 if we can raise $2,000 by the end of this week. Give today >> 

 

Love Series: Stephanie Malsbury, Financial Cheerleader

At JMB Award, we're fostering a community of love and support that lasts beyond a single day. We asked members of our community to share why they love JMB Award. These are their stories.

What I love about being a JBM Award financial cheerleader is working with our young women to build financial literacy and being a resource for their financial questions. Financial literacy is empowering. It increases awareness of one’s finances, which in turn can inform decisions and make it possible to achieve financial goals—whether they are small, like having spending money to go out with friends once in a while, or larger, like planning for a semester abroad.

 Photo: Art + Life Photography

Photo: Art + Life Photography

I love that recipients have a safe space to talk through financial issues one on one, and that they also have group sessions where they can share tips about reducing spending and spending more effectively. It’s great to be part of their exchanges about how to manage the cost of books or explain to friends that an activity is out of budget. Dialogues such as these build awareness and share techniques that allow all of us to improve our financial literacy.

Help us secure a Double The Love donor match. A generous, anonymous donor pledged $2,000 if we can raise $2,000 by the end of this week. Give today >> 

 

Love Series: Jared Epler, Nominator

At JMB Award, we're fostering a community of love and support that lasts beyond a single day. That doesn't mean we aren't susceptible to the allure of days dedicated to love. In recognition of Galentine's Day and Valentine's Day, we asked members of our community to share why they love JMB Award. These are their stories. 

What I love about JMB Award is it recognizes young women who are so driven and have worked so hard not only to change their lives, but to change the communities that surround them.  

I nominate students each year because JMB Award offers them the opportunity to receive a quality mentor and funding to pursue additional educational opportunities. Often people say that our work is changing the world. I believe it is our students who will change the world—and we should make every effort to equip them with every opportunity we can.  

I believe that building a circle of support around us is critical to reaching the success we all desire. My JMB Award student is without a doubt one of the strongest, most empathic, and fiercely driven students I have ever met in my life. I am honored to work with JMB Award to be a witness and conduit to her greatness!

Jared Epler is the director of college counseling for Cristo Rey Philadelphia.

Help us secure a Double the Love donor match. A generous, anonymous donor pledged $2,000 if we can raise $2,000 by the end of this week. Give today >> 

 

Love Series: Rona Buchalter, BOD

At JMB Award, we're fostering a community of love and support that lasts beyond a single day. That doesn't mean we aren't susceptible to the allure of days dedicated to love. In recognition of Galentine's Day and Valentine's Day, we asked members of our community to share why they love JMB Award. These are their stories. 

What I love about being part of the JMB Award board of directors is working with women, both those I've known for years and new young women I am just meeting, to create a program whose every aspect oozes positive energy. Once we figured out how to turn the vision into an actual program, we had the chance to get down to it with real candidates—meeting our finalists face to face in their own schools, retreats, dinners,  card-playing, care packages, financial education, and lots of texts!

Photo: Art + Life Photography

I've loved seeing Fran take this nugget of a half-formed idea and cajole and nurture it into a growing sisterhood network, relentlessly looking for new ways to offer meaningful support. And I especially love knowing that Jill, a woman equal parts fierce and gracious, would be thrilled to see us offering this kind of person-to-person support for young women getting themselves to the next step in their lives.

Thanks, JMB Award, for letting me be part of this ride!

Help us secure a Double the Love donor match. A generous, anonymous donor pledged $2,000 if we can raise $2,000 by the end of this week. Give today >> 

Love Series: Elena Shomos, Mentor

At JMB Award, we're fostering a community of love and support that lasts beyond a single day. We asked members of our community to share why they love JMB Award. These are their stories. 

Photo: Art + Life Photography

What I love about being a JMB Award mentor is empowering my mentee to be the strongest, most confident, and bravest “girl with grit” she can, using my knowledge and past experiences as a guide.

I believe everyone needs someone who is always available to be encouraging, to help you look at personal, academic, and professional situations from new perspectives, and to provide ideas for creative solutions to some of life’s biggest challenges. I love watching my mentee become increasingly confident in the way she problem solves and in the decisions she makes as time goes by.

As a mentor, I know I don’t have all the answers—we couldn’t have been more different in our academic interests and paths in high school and undergrad. But so much of what I have been able to do over the last 10 or so years since graduating high school has been thanks to women who led by example and took time to mentor me in some capacity, who listened to my ideas and provided feedback, and who cheered me on as I pursued my goals. It’s an amazing experience to be able to pay it forward.

On a related note, I love the way that the JMB Award community is a family to all who belong. I am certain that my mentee’s senior year would have been dramatically different without several of the local connections she was able to make because of this outstanding group of women. When I was in high school, we weren’t having conversations about the importance of networking. Now, we can’t thrive without a network. The JMB Award community offers our mentees an amazing springboard to grow, and, as JMB founder Fran puts it, to develop their own “personal board of directors.”

Help us secure a Double the Love donor match. A generous, anonymous donor pledged $2,000 if we can raise a matching $2,000. Give today >> 

 

I Wouldn't Be The Person I Am Today

Two years ago, I was a senior at Science Leadership Academy, figuring out which college or university I wanted to spend the next four years at. Financial aid played a large role in my decision-making process, but finding the school that fit my personality and a school where I could excel was a struggle for me. I was the first generation in my family to receive an education here in the United States and to have goals to attend college. I had no mentorship at home in regards to higher education, and that’s when I came across a scholarship opportunity called the Jill Melmed-Buzzeo Award.

I was one of many candidates competing for this award that offers $2,000 and a mentor who will help guide you through the process of adjusting to college life and making good decisions that will benefit you and help you better yourself. Luckily, I was chosen to be the inaugural candidate, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. 

Going into college my freshman year was the scary part. I didn’t know what to expect, how to adjust, or how to be a responsible adult. I was 18 years old, about to turn 19, when my mom dropped me off in the middle of nowhere at Juniata College. I said my goodbyes and had a “freakout” moment. The first question that came to my head was, “How am I going to get through college?” My mom never went to college so she couldn’t really give me advice on what to expect. But each day got better and easier because my mentor reached out to me and helped me each step of the way when I encountered an obstacle that I didn’t know how to face. 

My mentor has helped shape me into the adult that I wanted to become and was there for me in ways that my parent couldn’t be. Without this award, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Through this award, I gained a mentor, a friend, and someone I consider family. 

-- Amy Chen, 2015 JMB Award recipient

Give a leg up to our 2018 recipients! Help us reach our 2018 fundraising goal >>
 

Amy with her mentor, Fran, at our 2017 summer retreat

JMB Award Secures Fiscal Sponsorship

Starting this month, donations to JMB Award of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia qualify as tax-deductible as JMB Award now operates as a fiscally sponsored nonprofit project of CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia.

This relationship offers us multiple benefits, including bookkeeping, insurance, fiduciary oversight, and operations feasibility assessments through their CultureTrust program. 

It’s more important than ever that each of us support organizations doing work we believe in. We hope we can count you as a member of our community.
 

2018 Cycle Open For Nominations


JMB Award is delighted to open our fourth award cycle. 

We invite you to nominate eligible students within your school or community organization and to share this information with others working with high school students.

Nominations are accepted until March 1, 2018. Upon receiving nominations, JMB Award will contact nominated students to invite them to complete our application process, open until March 15, 2018. All finalists will be interviewed in April or early May. Recipients will be named in late May.

Contact fran [at] jmbaward [dot] com with questions. 

Nominate >>

Revving Up For 2018

It's wild to think we're opening our fourth cycle in January 2018. When we first kicked around the idea of the JMB Award, we practiced controlled enthusiasm. We were uncertain how far our idea would take us and how far we could take our idea.

In the past three years, we've gone from supporting one student each cycle to supporting four. We've added a travel stipend, financial capability building, prep test support—and so much more. Now, looking into 2018, we're revving up! We're crafting a three-year report so we can share our growth, achievements and impact in the categories below. For now, here's a glimpse at what we're working on.

Capacity Building

  • Seeking fiscal sponsorship. We're in the process of securing an agreement to operate under CultureWorks' nonprofit umbrella. That'll allow us to share their exempt status with donors and seek institutional support as well. Through this agreement, JMB Award also retains CultureWorks' HR staff support, marketing and fundraising expertise, legal tools, and insurance. We'll be informed of their decision in January.
  • Planning a strategic retreat. We realize we need concentrated time to discuss and refine our mission and vision. We'll hold a strategic retreat in 2018 to examine our impact to date and to map our desired impact for the next three to five years. 

Mentoring Program

  • Recruiting a diverse, talented group of mentors. In anticipation of granting awards to more students in 2018, we've filled out our mentor slate and recruited mentors from diverse personal and professional backgrounds. These women come from within education, the arts, and journalism.
  • Providing necessary training. In mid-November, we held training to further develop the skills of our current mentors. The focus was on building trust quickly, mentoring across long distances, recognizing our value, and preparing our mentees for summer work and internships. In March, we'll hold onboarding training for our new mentors to acquaint them with our mission and our approach.
  • Applying for technical assistance. The National Mentoring Resource Center provides technical assistance to youth mentorship programs. JMB Award is seeking their support to help us further improve and expand our training, matching, and evaluating efforts. We'll be informed of their decision soon.

Intergenerational Support 

  • Hosting a winter dinner. We're hosting a winter dinner for recipients and their mentors in early 2018. These events give us the opportunity to catch up, share stories, network, and celebrate. At this particular event, we'll return the "notes to self" recipients wrote at our summer event and see how their words of self-encouragement speak to them now.
  • Identifying our community. Through our network we've been able to offer informational interviews, provide employment, help restore medical insurance coverage, and get a leg-up on a coveted internship. For 2018, we plan on creating a process for more systematically identifying our community and the ways they can support our recipients. 

Who Doesn't Love Care Packages?

Remember when you were a first-year college student? So do we!

There's the loneliness. The stress. The desire for the comforts of home, whatever home may mean.

That's why we created the JMB Award Care Package and shipped one to each of our recipients this fall. A virtual hug in a box, the items were collectively curated by our mentors and included the practical and the indulgent. Toward the latter end of the scale was a signature Jill item: Snickers®. Jill marked bad days as "six-Snickers bars days." We included six, but went with the fun size. Moderation, amiright?! 

 

JMB Award Care Package

Summer Retreat

We had a jam-packed agenda for our first summer retreat with recipients and their mentors: 

  • Budgeting basics
  • Transitioning to college
  • Building a strong mentoring relationship
  • Networking and risk-taking

Through it all, personal stories and experiences took center stage.

Everyone had tips on how to stretch a dollar, and those entering their first year of college got additional pro tips on how to afford costly college books and late-night pizza ordering.

Money-saving wasn't the only thing on recipients' minds. Many benefited from a Q&A session with former recipients, especially as they discussed their transition to a rural campus with less pavement and diversity.

When our board joined later in the day, recipients heard their stories of perseverance, taking risks, accepting help, and leaping into the prepared-for unknown. This last session struck the deepest chord with our recipients, many of whom were reassured to learn "our path is not determined" and "everyone hits rock bottom in their life, and it's okay. It's about how you pick yourself back up." 

We couldn't say it better.

2017 Summer Retreat