Subject: [EDEQUITY Grantees Dialogue] Opening Statement by Diana Melvin
Exploring Your Options: The Road to the Future (abstract)
First, I want to thank the WEEA Center for the invitation and opportunity
to be a part of this EDEQUITY panel discussion. This is my first time to
participate in this type of dialogue. I'm excited to learn from and share
with all of you.
I am the project manager for Exploring Your Options, A Women's Educational
Equity Project in the State of South Dakota.
We are in our second year of activities. My primary focus has been, for
the past 12-15 years, providing classes and counseling to pregnant and
parenting young women and single parents.
Exploring Your Options is a collaborative project of South Dakota Women
Work! and Southeast Technical Institute. SD Women Work! is a nonprofit
organization dedicated to empowering women from diverse backgrounds and
assisting them to achieve economic self-sufficiency through job readiness,
education, training, personal and professional development, and employment.
Southeast Technical Institute is a two-year, Associate of Applied Science
degree granting institution whose mission is to develop and provide high
quality technical education.
The SD Women Work! network is a comprehensive statewide system encompassing
preschool through postsecondary education located at ten sites across the
state. The network includes K-12 school districts; a community education
center; alternative high schools; post secondary technical institutes;
career learning centers; a special services cooperative; and a tribal
college. For purposes of this project, South Dakota is divided into four
service delivery areas based on population: southeast, northeast, central,
and western. Network personnel are located strategically within each
The project has three primary focuses: 1. to strengthen educational and
career opportunities for women and girls who experience multiple forms of
discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, limited English
proficiency, disability, socioeconomic status, or age; 2. To provide
support services and activities to assist pregnant and parenting students;
and 3. To empower local school districts, Bureau of Indian Affairs' and
tribal schools, and other educational agencies to create gender-equitable
and harassment-free learning and teaching environments.
Economic and educational disadvantage are prime criterion for choosing
participants. The target population is elementary, middle and high school
age girls, including pregnant and parenting teens, school dropouts,
alternative school students, and other at-risk youth; single mothers; and
displaced homemakers. Emphasis will be on serving Native American and
other minority women and girls. The project also serves classroom
teachers, counselors, school administrators, and support staff, including
personnel of Bureau of Indian Affairs' and tribal schools; parents and
Expanding Your Options will provide a variety of educational and career
opportunities for women and girls who experience multiple forms of
discrimination. Activities range from workshops on creating equitable
classrooms to hands-on non-traditional workshops, from entrepreneurial and
sexual harassment prevention training to equity climate self-evaluations,
from support for parenting teens to development of life action plans. To
enhance sustainability and replicability, project personnel will develop
train-the-trainer models for educators, parents, and community partners to
ensure equitable school, community, and workplace environments.
For more information contact:
800 East Dakota Avenue
Pierre, South Dakota 57501
Phone: (605) 224-3189
E-mail: <email@example.com >
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