By Sumit Nagia, Vodafone World of Difference Program
She is 24 years old. She is young, energetic, and ambitious. She has her feet on the ground and head in the sky. She lives in the city of Hyderabad nearly 15,000 kms from her family and friends. She graduated less than 2 years ago and already has her platter full of challenges. To begin with, she is a Field Manager for IDEX Fellowship Program and ably guides a group of 35 young professionals who have desires in their hearts, dreams in their eyes and want to make it big. She is also a co-founder and Business Development Manager of a non–profit, VOICE 4 Girls.
She is Allison Gross.
Born and brought up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Allison completed her graduation in Business Administration from Emory University in the year 2010. That very year in August, IDEX fellowship program launched by Oglethorpe University and Gray Matters Capital (GMC) was being piloted with an initial count of 11 fellows. Having already worked for GMC as a Marketing and Communications intern during her college for 6 months, she was offered an opportunity to be a part of IDEX. She latched onto the same not knowing that this is just the beginning of something much bigger.
As destiny would have it, that was the beginning of a partnership among the three budding social entrepreneurs and gender equality advocates – Averil Spencer, Ilana Shushansky and Allison Gross.
The first year of fellowship with IDEX changed their lives and in return has altered and will bring an alteration to lives of hundreds and thousands of girls and young women. The gloomy picture of numerous under privileged girls who are being discriminated on the basis of gender and social pressures gave them a reason, a cause to live for and fight for.
“As we visited schools, every girls had so many questions around changes in their bodies, health, and safety, and many confided in us their concerns about family support for their future dreams. We knew we had to do something to raise the Voices of these girls and give them the tools to be strong, independent women.” ~ Allison Gross
They were getting ready to take their chances and were calculating the possibilities to undertake something new.
Now, with the pilot being a success, Nike Foundation has agreed to provide an additional grant this year. Also, as the footprints and size of VOICE 4 Girls are bound to grow, the need of managing it efficiently is enormous. The VOICE Team, Averil, Allie, and Ilana plan to reach 3600 girls during May 2012 across 110 schools and to reach 100,000 girls by 2016.
Thus, VOICE, as the name suggests, has become an expression of many underprivileged girls who wish to make a mark of their own, but unluckily have no resource at their disposal to find their way to success. VOICE 4 Girls has done it for these girls earlier and shall keep on doing it for them in the future.
The dream Allie and her two fellow colleagues started, is surely getting converted into a reality, gradually and steadily.