As we close out Women’s History Month, it is timely that we shine our spotlight on the work of the Alice Paul Institute (API), a 2020 Impact100 SJ general operating grantee. API is located in Mt. Laurel at Paulsdale, a National Historic Landmark that is the birthplace and childhood home of suffragist and equality activist Alice Paul. Their mission is to honor the legacy of Alice Paul’s work toward gender equality through education and leadership development. The organization is committed to positively impacting the ongoing, intersectional struggle for gender equality.
API offers leadership programs for teen girls and civic engagement programs for men and women of all ages that connect history to current events and issues. Their signature teen program is the Girls Leadership Council (GLC). They also educate the public about the life and work of Alice Paul through fun educational and character development programs for K-12 students and provide lesson plans and curriculum support for educators. There is also an array of public programs, from tours of Paulsdale to author talks and film screenings.
The Impact100 Grant
When API received their Impact100 South Jersey grant, they were planning to expand programming by upgrading technology to offer online and virtual options. The timing of the grant couldn’t have been more helpful as we were in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $42,000 grant allowed API to very quickly pivot to online programs. Not only did they continue to serve the regional community, but they expanded their reach beyond their goals. In 2022, API served 12,500 individuals across the country! This incredible number includes 67 teen girls participating in GLC as far away as Colorado and California , 447 school group and Girl Scout participants, 30 Lead Away youth, 200 teens in the APPLI programs for college and career exploration, and public programs for all ages.
The Difference API Makes
Their impact on teen girls across the country is powerful as they explore topics beyond history and women in politics. They cover contemporary issues such as race and gender equity, maternal health and mortality, beauty standards and body image, mental health, and “period poverty”. The GLC examines the issues that affect our society and our future, and seeks to be a part of the solution to the problems facing many marginalized individuals. One GLC member, Haila Desai, shared her feelings about the program. “GLC cultivates a safe environment for all members. After two years of being in GLC, I have found a place to be myself and talk about issues that I have encountered in society as a woman.”
The educational programs have provided important support to teachers and community programs like the Girl Scouts for many years. Amanda Schwartz, School Counselor, Somerdale Park School shared, “The Lead-A-Way program has helped our sixth grade students access their inner leader and enhance their natural leadership abilities. Our students were inspired by the lessons API brought in about female leaders in history. The Lead-A-Way program helped give some of our students the confidence to step out of their comfort zones and get involved in our school by joining Student Council, applying for NJHS, or joining some of the other awesome clubs we offer.”
Even volunteers have accolades about the value of API to the community. Volunteer Mary Kimport: “Especially at this time in our nation’s history, I believe any endeavor that seeks to educate and advocate for voting rights and equality is a most worthwhile endeavor. And when so much of this work is directed toward young people, the endeavor is that much more important. The Alice Paul Institute is of course just such a place. I’m proud and honored to be part of the volunteer team, and look forward to helping as much as I can in the future.”
How You Can Get Involved
There are many ways Impact100 SJ members can support API beyond the check. Members can volunteer in a variety of capacities at Paulsdale. Check out the opportunities and sign up here. Attending their programs and events throughout the year is personally enriching and it supports their mission. You can also follow API on social media or sign up for their email alerts to stay abreast of their activities.
API hopes to continue growing their national footprint while also expanding the ways they can serve the local community. They strive to become a more valuable community resource by partnering with other organizations and programs in the region who can use Paulsdale as inspiration and for programming.
We look forward to visiting API in the near future to tour Paulsdale and enjoy the bucolic setting where Alice developed her values and returned for rest throughout her busy life as an activist.