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White House recognizes Merced educator as Champion of Change

Annie Delgado, coordinator for the Lift While You Lead Summer Empowerment Program, welcomes families to a completion ceremony at UC Merced on Thursday, July 7, 2016. The program taught Merced middle school girls lessons on body image, bullying, building healthy relationships and leadership.
Annie Delgado, coordinator for the Lift While You Lead Summer Empowerment Program, welcomes families to a completion ceremony at UC Merced on Thursday, July 7, 2016. The program taught Merced middle school girls lessons on body image, bullying, building healthy relationships and leadership. bcalix@mercedsun

The White House will recognize a Merced educator this week as a Champion of Change for a summer program she leads that helps middle school girls develop their leadership potential.

Annie Delgado, a women’s studies teacher at Golden Valley High School, runs the Lift While You Lead Empowerment Program. During the summer program, girls learn about body image, bullying, building healthy relationships and leadership. Delgado monitors their grades and behavior throughout the school year and as they continue to high school.

The White House on Friday will recognize Delgado as one of 10 Champions of Change from around the country for developing and supporting after-school and extracurricular activities that create opportunities for girls from marginalized communities. The Champions of Change program features individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

The White House Council on Women and Girls found that girls from marginalized communities face challenges accessing extracurricular and summer enrichment programs.

The girls who have participated in the Lift While You Lead program raised their grades, improved their school attendance and had less discipline-related issues.

The program also requires the students to participate in one extracurricular activity each school year and complete 250 hours of community service during high school.

The first of two groups of girls who are in the program currently have an average GPA of 3.53, up from 2.86 when they finished seventh grade, Delgado said. Plus, they’re in band, color guard, book clubs and more.

Delgado said she found out about the recognition last week and plans to attend the White House event on Friday. She shared the news with the first group of girls who went through the program and are now freshmen in high school. “It’s an incredible opportunity for the program to be recognized on a national level,” she said. “It really speaks to the girls’ commitment to the program.”

Parents now are approaching Delgado asking about the program for their daughters.

“I hope there are more and more people who see the value of investing in young people in the community,” Delgado said.

The Lift While You Lead program also collaborates with Merced City School District, UC Merced and Educational Employees Credit Union.

Friday’s event will feature remarks by White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Beverly Bond, CEO and founder of Black Girls Rock.

The event will be live-streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live at 8:30 a.m. PT on Friday.

Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477

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