Power By Girls: A Mission to Close the Gender Gap

Tia Hawthorne is a 16-year-old high school junior from Chicago, Illinois. She and her sister Tawny Hawthorne co-founded the international nonprofit organization, Power By Girls, an initiative dedicated to creating environments where young womxn can develop their passions and foster their entrepreneurial spirit!

Co-founders Tawny Hawthorne (left) and Tia Hawthorne (right) standing in front of a vibrant pink wall.

Pictured above: Co-founders Tawny Hawthorne (left) and Tia Hawthorne (right)

What inspired you to start your organization?

I started Power By Girls in July of 2019 with my sister, Tawny Hawthorne, who now goes to Syracuse University. We started Power By Girls when we noticed that there was a large gap in male and female leaders and founders (17% of startups have female founders and they get less than 2% of venture capital dollars). After seeing such alarming statistics on our television while getting ready for school one day, we knew we had to do something. Starting this organization wasn’t an easy task, but we began simply by creating our organization's email address and a spreadsheet with people we planned to reach out to. We crafted our mission statement and created a “mood board” for goals we wanted to accomplish with PBG. That mood board has since changed, but the general idea is still very effective!

17% of startups have female founders and they get less than 2% of venture capital dollars.

How has Power By Girls been able to educate and equip young womxn with relevant entrepreneurial skills?

PBG Connect is a community-based meetup that allows young womxn to connect with those who are like-minded to learn and grow!

Every PBG Connect has the underlying theme of entrepreneurship, such as providing empowerment opportunities (panels from university students, keynote speakers who are successful female founders, etc.) and collaborations with the community itself!

We plan activities that startup founders would typically put on like finding the problem that they are trying to solve, creating their business plan, creating a landing page, etc. Under the interdisciplinary initiatives that PBG plans (ie: Entrepreneurship + Tech), we are able to touch on many different topics and allow for maximum growth for our attendees.

What was the most difficult/time-consuming task you faced while planning your business education conference?

We definitely faced challenges in time management and sponsorship for our initiatives, meetups, and makeathons. Finding community partners was fairly easy - we decided that we wanted to create a space where we not only uplifted the voices of the young womxn in our community but also highlight other female founder organizations and initiatives!

Time management is a large part of planning anything successfully, and that aspect does not go away when planning community-based events. We definitely managed this by using Google Calendar and Notion (the best platforms to ever coexist within one time period) and making sure to delegate! In terms of finding sponsors, we really had to utilize LinkedIn and employ a method called "professional stalking" - using connections to find other connections and finding websites that had similar values and missions to ours. Overall, we have overcome a lot of obstacles, and my best advice would be to just keep going.

Overall, we have overcome a lot of obstacles, and my best advice would be to just keep going.

What is The Network? How does The Network function as an entrepreneurial mentorship program?

The Network is actually in a revamping phase! I can’t say too much just yet, but it is going to be a mentorship program for young womxn with an entrepreneurship mindset everywhere by connecting with professionals in various fields. Stay tuned!

What is the key to successfully raising awareness about your organization both online and offline?

Using social media to your advantage! That is by far one of the easiest and most effective ways to spread awareness about a non-profit. Everyone uses platforms like Instagram, and the non-profit scene is large there. DMing organizations with similar mission statements for partnership, Instagram takeovers, and/or helpful advice is something that we do time and time again!

How are you able to effectively secure sponsorships with brands to fund your initiatives?

Securing partnerships is hard, but not impossible! To secure partnerships with brands to fund PBG initiatives, I always exhaust all of my resources - LinkedIn, Instagram, and websites of organizations you’ve heard of - are all great places to look for partners and sponsors.

What are some of your future goals with Power by Girls?

PBG is forever changing and growing, and we have a lot of goals that come with that evolution. One of my goals with Power By Girls is to highlight more inspirational womxn in all fields who execute the entrepreneurial spirit. I actually can’t wait to see how that comes about and what ideas my team has for that mini initiative!

The acronym "PBG" written out three times, stacked on top of each other. They are block letters. The middle "PBG" is a solid pastel pink while the top and bottom "PBG" are white with a pastel pink outline.

What was a challenge you faced as a youth-led organization? How were you able to overcome it?

Another challenge I faced as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of a youth-led organization would be delegating! I’m what some would call a perfectionist, and that does translate into all aspects of my life. However, when running an organization with team members as great and talented as mine, it’s important that I work with everyone and make sure that everyone’s voices are heard and ideas come to fruition.

Why is it so important to diversify the business field by garnering the interest of more females & non-binary individuals?

Before I answer in my own words, here are some of those statistics from earlier: 17% of startups have a female founder. Female founders get less than 2% of venture capital dollars, and womxn of color receive less than 1%. There are fewer female CEOs than male CEOs named John. Those numbers alone are the reason why I started Power By Girls, and why it is so important to diversify the business field. Womxn have been viewed as the extension of a man for far too long, and a rise in female leaders will allow us to break away from that narrative once and for all.

Womxn have been viewed as the extension of a man for far too long, and a rise in female leaders will allow us to break away from that narrative once and for all.

What advice do you have for people who want to start their own organization?

Don’t start an organization because others are doing the same. Your organization will take a huge time commitment, so make sure you’re passionate about the topic. Your enthusiasm will ooze out of your work, and those are the types of leaders who will disrupt the spaces that typically aren’t made for them.

What are your favorite songs?

This is such a difficult question to answer, but I love anything SZA, Summer Walker, and Travis Scott! Those aren’t my favorite songs, but that’s as close as I can get to a favorite song! Music is something that I listen to every day, so a favorite song is SO hard!

Media courtesy of Tia Hawthorne


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