Today we’d like to introduce you to Tedi and Sonya Serge.
Tedi and Sonya, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Sand Sisters was born in 2012 on a beach walk reflecting on what kind of impact we wanted to leave on this earth. Both of us are educators by trade and schooling. We started as an all-girls beach camp and evolved into an after-school program.
In 2016, we filed for our 501(c)3 status and decided to go full throttle and develop Sand Sisters into a social-emotional learning experience for girls, designed to empower children to lead and light our world, by starting with loving themselves first. We want the new generation of females to live a life of self-love and confidence without realizing people can go a lifetime without it.
Our mission is for ALL girls to feel seen, valued and heard… no matter your socioeconomic background. Offering our programming in underserved neighborhoods is at the top of our list for 2019.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We live and breathe our mission. Being powerful women pulses through our blood. We want to make a change in our community, be mentors to girls and families that need us and ultimately be trailblazers for how girls view and talk to themselves. Starting our own business has been 100% self-taught. We have developed a program and movement that hasn’t been done before. Most people make their wealth then start a nonprofit or foundation. Here we are, two sisters and best friends, doing exactly the opposite.
Applying for 501(c)3 status took almost a year in itself to be approved IRS. We had to submit countless documents, create bylaws, build a board, set up our official corporation, etc. We knew it was worth the work because Sand Sisters is a program that we wish we had when we were younger. Getting everything organized and created in order to send to the IRS was a struggle, especially with limited funding and moonlighting to finish the work, since we both were working professionals.
Funding is always a roadblock for a female founder. Then add non-profit to the dialogue and people just think we are “cute with big hearts.” Really people say that! It wasn’t until 2016 when the national conversation moved to female equality and empowerment that we started to feel our impact was supported by our peers and community.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sand Sisters LA 501(c)3 – what should we know?
Sand Sisters LA 501(c)3 is a youth empowerment non-profit, whose mission is to give female youth the tools to build a strong sense of self. We want every girl to feel seen, valued and heard.
We offer a ten week after school enrichment program, summer beach camp and empowerment workshops to children ages 5 – 17. We’ve mentored over 700 girls to date. Our curriculum is based on social-emotional learning (SEL) and is endorsed by L. Edmondson Ed.D.
We have worked in 12 LA schools, City of Santa Monica, Watts Empowerment Center, Mar Vista Family Center, the list goes on and on. We are here to stay and mentor LA’s female youth.
We are known for our tween #GirlPowerful workshops. We do this with sports teams, corporate sponsorship brands, and private friend groups.
We are known for creating a space for girls to be authentically them. Sonya and I are both very different, and through our personalities and talents, we attract different kinds of girls. So in a group, all girls needs are met between the two of us.
This year we started teaching Oceanography at the beach after school. It was a very special 8-week course learning about protecting our environment, the layers of the ocean, and implementing sisterhood on the sand.
We are always going to be the Serge Sisters. People love family-owned businesses, and that is how we intend to stay. As we grow, we are still hands-on developing curriculum, new ideas, corporate connections and impacting the community.
Our hearts explode with social good. We are excited for 2019 and all of the new opportunities that are presenting themselves and all of the new families we are going to meet.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
SO many wonderful people have been a part of our journey — anyone that has ever said, “yes” to us. We thank you.
We have a pretty heavy hitter as our mentor right now. 2019 is going to be our year. We met her because I was sitting on her purse at a networking event. Whoops. ; ) You’ll be seeing us on the Today Show sooner than later.
- Please donate to sponsor a girl to participate in our workshops. $50 sponsors a girl in an underserved community. Here is the link: https://www.networkforgood.org/donation/ExpressDonation.aspx?
- Website: www.sandsistersla.com
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