New York City resident Hetal Jani and Ashburn, Virginia’s Shreyaa Venkat have been selected as two of the 2019 Women of Worth Honorees by L’Oréal Paris for their outstanding work in founding and running non-profits that help communities.
Jani is the founder of SPEAK Mentorship. The non-profit advances diversity in leadership through college and career preparedness, mentoring immigrant girls on cultural identity, career trajectory and gender association.
Venkat is the founder of NEST4US which works with communities to provide volunteer and leadership opportunities, focusing on reducing food waste and feeding the hungry.
The two Indian-American women are among 10 women in the country to receive the prestigious Women of Worth award this year, for her charitable efforts that bring to life the L’Oréal Paris mission of uplifting and inspiring self-worth in others.
Starting Oct. 15 and until Nov. 15, the public can visit www.WomenofWorth.com to vote for one woman to become this year’s “National Honoree” and receive an additional $25,000 to support her cause, for a grand total of $35,000, a press release from L’Oreal said. Each Honoree will also automatically receive $10,000, along with support via national paid media, educational and training opportunities, and a large-scale platform to share her story, the cosmetic house said.
Being witness to a situation of one of her South Asian students facing family pressure to marry, Jani saw the need for mentors to guide girls through the cultural struggles that limit the social integration and academic achievement of immigrant youth.
She founded SPEAK Mentorship to give schools the additional support to effectively reach immigrant girls. The organization’s unique approach develops girls’ intersectional identities, focusing on topics such as individual career aspirations, cultural identities and gender association.
Since 2015, SPEAK has impacted over 100 girls, their families and a network of more than 200 volunteer mentors in the U.S. In 2017-2018 alone, SPEAK made 57 mentoring matches and conducted over 400 mentoring sessions with 75 girls, 94% of whom identify as immigrants. SPEAK also launched a virtual Speaker Series with 31 speakers, alongside SPEAK Empowerment courses, which have been delivered to hundreds across the world.
Sixteen-year-old Venkat is a senior at Broad Run High School with passion for community service and volunteering. She is an active board member of various clubs and organizations, where she provides a wide range of volunteer opportunities for youth and teens in the community. Shreyaa already has over five years of volunteer service under her belt and has spent over 1000 hours giving back to her community, according to details provided on the non-profit’s website.
Venkat is an academic honor roll student, a travel soccer player, a 3rd degree black belt, a certified soccer referee, a kathak dancer, and an assistant instructor at CJR Martial Arts.
She has received numerous awards, including that from L’Oreal Women of Worth. They include among others, Outstanding Youth Volunteer Team from Loudoun Cares; 2019 Virginia House Joint Bill No 699 Commending Outstanding Service; 2019 Governor’s Youth Volunteer of the Year; 2019 Indian American Youth Achiever; and 2018-19 United Nations Ambassador Award; 2018 Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Community Service; and 2017/2018 Presidential Environmental Youth Award Recognition.