Each year, 15 young women graduate from the Female Leadership Academy (FLA) program of ACT for Women and Girls in Visalia, which started in 2003 during a Women’s Foundation of California event. The Female Leadership Academy (FLA) brings together a diverse group of young women activists who are leading efforts to improve their communities.
Participants get hands-on training on everything from reproductive health and writing editorials to lobbying and leadership training. But most importantly, they gain access to a wealth of knowledge while training to be lifelong leaders of their communities. By engaging these young women to become advocates on behalf of their communities and women and girls everywhere, ACT is training the next generation of advocates for women’s rights.
The true impact of this program though is best spoken through the words of FLA graduate Korri Faria, who spoke about the impact FLA made on her life during FLA’s 5 year anniversary event:
I participated in the Female Leadership Academy my senior year of high school – and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect timing. For so long, I had thought I knew the career path I was going to pursue, but it was undeniable that my heart wasn’t fully in it. The passion just wasn’t there.
I remember after every FLA meeting walking out feeling SO empowered! It was always a little harder to fall asleep those nights and a lot easier to get out of bed the next morning as I couldn’t wait to share what I had learned or to go out and try to make some microscopic difference in the world that next day!
When I went off to college, I found myself reflecting back on the experiences I had in the Female Leadership Academy. The thought of all we accomplished within those 8 months still astonishes me today. The impact we made on one another, on our friends and families and on our community is something we all should be very proud of!
Graduating from the Female Leadership Academy was more significant to me then my high school graduation. I graduated from the academy feeling prepared, accomplished, but most importantly I felt like an-overall better person.