Ivy Sasu was determined to show her classmates that racial bias doesn’t have to hold them back. Her principal and the Community Foundation were eager to help.

With a $7,500 Racial Equity grant, Ivy and Leominster High School (LHS) launched the “Celebrating the Success of Women of Color” speaker series to present successful women of color who "represent their ways to thrive as changemakers, aspire as competent communicators, connect as critical and creative thinkers, and so much more."

The series is intended to allow LHS students to meet “women of color from different backgrounds who have experienced struggle, racism, hardship, and ultimately achieved success. These women will share how they overcame, adapted, and thrived in our society today.”

The series kicked off with a bang with Northeastern University Women’s Track and Field Head Coach Tramaine Shaw, who offered an unvarnished look at her path, along with clear-eyed insights about the challenges ahead for women of color and practical advice about navigating them.

The grant was one of eight awarded by the Community Foundation on the recommendation of our Racial Equity Fund Advisory Committee. The grants were supported by the Racial Equity Fund established to help nonprofit organizations advance racial equity through youth empowerment, social justice, awareness, education, training and other approaches that empower communities of color.

The fund is already having an impact, thanks to Ivy and Leominster High School. Over 100 students, both young women and men, attended the talk. Ivy said that Tremaine’s presentation caused her to begin to look at her own life in a new way.

Tramaine Shaw
Tramaine Shaw (Danielle Day/Sentinel and Enterprise)

Media attention garnered by the event (including a feature story by Danielle Day of the Sentinel and Enterprise) delivered an important message to the broader community: that barriers of racial discrimination are still very real and holding back our entire community.

This year’s grants were made possible by support from Rollstone Bank, the George and Irene Wallace Foundation, Enterprise Bank and Fidelity Bank. To support future grants, please donate to the Racial Equity Endowment Fund.

Caption: Ivy Sasu (Danielle Day/Sentinel and Enterprise)