Empowering Diverse Voices

New program helps Black women put their experiences into words

Towunmi Coker sees a lot of opportunity in education. As the founder of TC Initiative, Coker works to fill gaps she sees in the community, helping marginalized communities gain skills and knowledge in areas like finance, health and economic development.

“So the goal is to empower the greatest talents of Black women and girls,” she says.

TC Initiative partnered with the Africa Centre to receive a $15,000 grant from Edmonton Community Foundation to support its latest offering: the EmpowerHER creative writing and mentorship program. The program is designed to amplify the voices of participants, giving them the words and skills needed to reach their goals.

“What we’re hoping to see is that creatives who are Black girls and women, that they have this platform to grow,” she says. “We give them the information, the tools, the access to materials and resources to make that happen.”

The program includes four weeks of educational sessions, offered in-person or online. Each lesson focuses on a different style of writing — from branding and business writing, to script or proposal writing.

“Some of these creatives, they’re interested in doing podcasts, reviews on social media, publishing a book. Everything entails writing a story. So this program is geared towards giving them that skill, that platform and that educational access,” she says.

The program also includes a mentorship element to help participants build on the skills learned in class. The mentorship gives them the opportunities to work closely with creative professionals. Participants also get the chance to workshop their writing, comparing their progress from before and after the training sessions.

The program also goes one step further to help participants build confidence in their work, while also building connections in the community. Through a literary meet-and-greet event, participants can show off their newly refined skills while connecting with other members of the creative community.

“At the event, each participant can showcase one of their creative works – if it’s poetry, spoken word or whatever creative skill they have – to see the impact of the program,” Coker says. “We’re hoping that through these workshops, we will be able to see more Black women and girls who are smashing it in the creative world.”

This story comes from the Spring 2024 Edition of Legacy in Action. Read the full issue.