Making Connections, Changing Lives- I am PINK
As women break barriers and excel in the corporate world, the competitive spirit of success often negates the concept of sisterhood. For Janae Griggs, however,…
As women break barriers and excel in the corporate world, the competitive spirit of success often negates the concept of sisterhood. For Janae Griggs, however, this notion is not true. With her non-profit organization, ‘I AM P.I.N.K’, sisterhood is the driving force behind her work. Her mission to promote relationships through mentorship, encourages all participants to grow and develop into positive women with a network of sisters to connect with along their journey to success.
‘I AM P.I.N.K’ is a mentorship program for young inner-city girls. Paired with role models and mentors of varying demographics, the mentees are able to connect with these women and realize their own potential. As a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a double major in Women’s Studies and African American Studies, Griggs has always been interested in the plight of women of color. Founded in 2011, Griggs was determined to start ‘I AM P.I.N.K’ after witnessing her younger sister’s friends going down the path of teenage pregnancy. “Instead of just pointing the finger at these young girls that are having babies, I decided to try to figure out what the problem was and create a solution for it,” she explains. This led to the creation of ‘I Am P.I.N.K’. Ironically, the goal for the program was to prevent teenage pregnancies by giving young girls something to do during their free time. However, it evolved into so much more.
“Instead of just pointing the finger at these young girls that are having babies, I decided to try to figure out what the problem was and create a solution for it,”
Based in Detroit, Michigan, ‘I AM P.I.N.K’ does work at Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University. Each Saturday, Griggs and her team of 12 mentors meet for two hours with over 50 mentees. “We take them on field trips and we do different workshops on topics that can range anywhere from self-esteem to career readiness. We also do an annual event where we collect gently used prom dresses, shoes and accessories to donate to girls, free of charge, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go to prom,” Griggs explains. The goal is to make every girl feel valuable and to help them understand that they have the strength to overcome adversities. The situations she comes across with her mentees are often heartbreaking. Hearing stories of molestation, teen pregnancies, and homelessness puts things into perspective. “We’ve pretty much experienced it all in these few years,” she says. Nevertheless, she strives to always remain positive and offer her girls words of encouragement. ‘P.I.N.K’ is self-defined. The mentees are encouraged to come up with their own acronym that individually pertains to them. Griggs describes ‘P.I.N.K’ as “Passionate, Innovative, Never giving up, and Knocking on success’s door!”
When she is not busy with her non-profit commitments, you can find Griggs volunteering with various organizations, constantly networking and making connections. She is a firm believer in establishing relationships and lending a helping hand whenever possible. She plans to expand ‘I Am P.I.N.K’, with an ultimate goal to create a national organization. “My plan is for there to be a P.I.N.K. organization within every inner-city across the US as well as eventually on all college campuses.” With a heart of gold and a focused mind, we do not doubt Griggs’s ability to make it happen.
Interview by: Jean Tatum
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