Zonta Club of Newport Harbor opens opportunities for women and girls

The Zonta Club of Newport Harbor, USA, started the Student to Business service project in 2000 and continues today as an ongoing project. The purpose of this project is twofold: to focus on education and equal rights for women and to showcase examples of potential career opportunities open to women and young girls from a low-income area of the community. The club offers an array of companies to inspire them to think beyond what they know and encourage them to think outside their “box” of exposure. The club sponsors five outings for 15 female students whose principal and teachers have chosen to participate each year. Two to four Zonta members act as chaperones for each visit, along with chaperones from their school. Most recently, the girls visited the following venues below.

Chapman University
The campus tour is conducted by university educators who are well-versed in providing guidance and describing the benefits of higher education in achieving future goals. The students are shown classrooms, told of the many areas of education available through the 11 schools and colleges within the campus and living quarters, and informed about opportunities to apply for admittance. Chapman is a preeminent college in the area, and their College of Film is rated #4 in the USA. Having never been on a college campus, several are considering the possibility of attending college, what vocation they would like to follow and the aid available to them.

Home Depot
This national company is an incredible model for hiring and promoting women and providing educational and financial opportunities. Home Depot offers involvement in community service projects, on-the-job training, academic support and financial opportunities. On their last visit, the tour was led by the female store manager and several female supervisors who spent time with the girls discussing career options within the company and the many benefits available while working part-time as a student or full-time as a career. Talking about saving money through the Home Depot company plan was a valuable point for them.

Harbor Justice Center
For 10 years, the club has had the same judge oversee their visit. He values the opportunity to speak and educate these young women on opportunities in government work. He covers the many activities of the court, career descriptions and opportunities, and various salaries. His bailiff and secretary (both women) are present and join in to tell their stories of working in the judicial system. The judge makes the girls feel comfortable in a courtroom by sharing stories about cases he has handled and the value of being a juror if called to serve on a trial.

The city of Huntington Beach.
In recent years, tours have been presented by the police department, the fire department and council members, including the mayor. As Newport is where the students live, it is important to familiarize them with their city and leaders. This year, the tour of city hall offices was led by a female council member who shared her story about why she decided to go into politics, run for office and what she hopes to achieve while she serves. At each office stop, she gave the girls a description of what the job entailed, which encouraged the girls to ask questions about qualifications. A significant highlight was to provide insight into potential summer or part-time job opportunities when they can work or go to school. A special treat was having the girls sit in the city chamber seats of council members in the hall where city hall meetings are held.

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
This trip is offered for those with a creative bent or interest in fashion outside a regular college campus atmosphere. It was an opportunity for the girls to interact with other students already studying the many areas of fashion and design. The Institute offers a 2-year or 4-year degree in many areas, including costume design, journalism, marketing, sewing and makeup. Since the club is in California and close to Hollywood and other art areas, the Institute offers a different road to a successful career.

This program has been very successful and well-received by the parents, teachers and the local community. The club has been recognized at several events because of this program. Since they pay only for the bus transportation and t-shirts with “Student to Business” on them, it can be easily replicated by other Zonta clubs for a low cost. The club estimates that more than 300 girls have benefited from it, and more than 200 Zontians have given back to the community by sharing their knowledge and experience with these girls. The engagements with Chapman and the City of Huntington have furthered their involvement with the organizations in other areas.