Inspiring girls to reach their highest potential

. June 30, 2017.
Members of Groomed for Greatness, a local nonprofit for girls ages 4-18 aimed at empowerment through exposure, enjoy a field trip to the Toledo Museum of Art.
Members of Groomed for Greatness, a local nonprofit for girls ages 4-18 aimed at empowerment through exposure, enjoy a field trip to the Toledo Museum of Art.

Girls today– from elementary school through high school– face enormous pressure to do well in school, succeed in extracurricular activities and fit in. Even if they have a strong
support system, it’s not always easy for girls and young women to develop a sense of confidence, self-worth and realization of what they can become. Toledo native Michelle McCaster seeks to change that: She wants all girls to understand their potential.

Exposure is key

McCaster is the founder of the local nonprofit Groomed for Greatness which helps provide girls ages 4 to 18 opportunities to become confident and productive members in society.

“Exposure is key,” explained McCaster. “The more exposure the girls have to new people and activities, the more likely they will see their importance in society. I just wanted to inspire girls to reach their highest potential.”

Currently, Groomed for Greatness has 36 girls enrolled and will open up membership again at the beginning of the next school year. All girls interested in joining the organization can participate in an interview process where they meet with the team and share what they hope to learn, which is likely to become their focus. The team at Groomed for Greatness works with many community members and volunteers to lead classes, offer volunteer experiences, and who speak one-on-one with the girls.

Supporting the dream

Those enrolled participate in numerous classes from etiquette to photography, and McCaster makes an effort to bring in community members who can talk to the girls about other interests. McCaster explained that one of the girls wanted to learn how to do taxes. She is only 10 years old, but as McCaster said, “I don’t kill the dream, I just support it…so I’m having my tax guy come in to talk to her.”

The community has become a major support for Groomed for Greatness. The organization has recently partnered with college students at the University of Toledo to help mentor the girls and to become role models. Part of the reason McCaster founded the organization was because she found that many young local women were not attending college. By partnering with the University, the young girls have constant exposure to female students who are working toward a college degree. Additionally, McCaster is requiring all of the girls who are 12 and older to apply for scholarships. Even though some of the girls may be too young to submit their application, the experience will act as practice for filling out scholarships and applications for college when they are older.

Plans for the future

To help girls realize their potential, one of the projects is to create their own business, providing an opportunity to take on the role of entrepreneur. The businesses they create will vary, and products will depend on the girls’ interests. One participant is working on making tutus to sell. The pop-up shop is currently scheduled for this October.

McCaster is also working on developing a series of classes that would introduce the girls to different cultures as a way to help them better understand others and rid society of negative biases. McCaster plans to celebrate Women’s History Month next March with an event at the Collingwood Art Center where girls can speak with volunteers who dress up and play the role of historical women.

Join Groomed for Greatness

Who can join? Girls ages 4-18 years old in the Toledo area.
Why join? To get involved in the community, grow intellectually and socially, and reach your potential.
How can I apply? Visit groomedforgreatness.org or email g4gtoledo@gmail.com.
When can I join? You can apply anytime. Groomed for Greatness will accept new members at the beginning of next school year.

For those interested in volunteering, or for girls who want to get involved in Groomed for
Greatness, visit groomedforgreatness.org.