Girls With Impact

Jazmine Alvarez, 14 of North High School and CEO of Gear for Soccer, speaking about her Girls With Impact Academy experience. "It impacted my confidence a lot. I was able to tell myself that I could do it. I could really make something happen if I worked hard. Having my family's support, they have really helped me," she said in a news release.

Metro Denver area families looking to get their high-school, or middle-school, aged girls a leg up in the workforce have an opportunity this weekend to attend a free boot camp from the nonprofit Girls With Impact Business Academy.

The half-day boot camp is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Westminster High School, 6933 Raleigh St., Westminster CO 80030. Slots were still open as of Wednesday.

“We are partnering with schools and community organizations to bring what really is a program that can change a young woman's future,” CEO and founder Jennifer Openshaw said in an interview.

The boot camp gives participants a taste of what academy courses offer including creating a business plan, marketing, finance, “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and other “critical skills for success.”

“Girls With Impact really sets them up for success,” Openshaw said. “We are on a mission to put 10,000 young women through our program and turn them into tomorrow’s business leaders.”

The boot camp covers topics like presenting yourself in an interview, building a LinkedIn profile, “the power of creating impact projects” — all to prep girls for college and their first jobs.

Girls who complete the three-hour program will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Openshaw started Girls With Impact in 2016, and the nonprofit has since put thousands through the academy’s curriculum. She has “launched or built five new organizations, authored three books, and provided financial tools to some half-million consumers,” according to her biography on the Girls With Impact website.

Openshaw has preached her message of equipping young women with these skills for years on shows like “Money Expert” for KCBS-TV and as host of ABC Radio’s Winning Advice. She has also been a columnist for Dow Jones’ MarketWatch.

“Colorado is really important because there’s a lot of Latinas and diversity,” she said. “Companies there, like elsewhere, really need smart, female talent. We’ve already engaged with over 50 Denver and Colorado-based organizations and school districts.

“We’ve got 1,000 scholarship seats to fill.”

Financial services and tech companies are especially looking for talent in the Colorado market, she said. 

The 10-week academy classes are online, so “they can do it from their bedrooms, the car or the beach.” There’s still availability for the second, five-week summer session, which starts Aug. 8.

The students “bring an idea to life,” either as a business, a nonprofit organization or a project, Openshaw said.

“She gains some resume material,” she said. “And she will radically improve her confidence, her public speaking and leadership skills.”

With financial backing from U.S. Bank, students with family incomes below $75,000 receive a full scholarship. For families making more, the classes cost $249 — “cheaper than a swim lesson,” she said.

They get a $50 grocery card upon completion.

“We know from our own research that over 50% of Gen Z'ers (16-25 years old) want to be their own boss,” Openshaw said. “They want to run their own companies and 70% of them want to personally drive innovation. This is a way for them to learn how to do that early on and get a huge advantage in their career." 

City Editor

Dennis Huspeni is a 30-year newspaper journalist who is the City Editor and covers metro Denver business.

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