In Boyle Heights, Young Women Are Learning to Be Leaders

ENTITY empowers with career and life skills that make a difference

Jennifer Schwab woke up one morning in her mid-30s with a realization. “I said, ‘I’m finally personally and professionally satisfied for the first time in my life,'” she remembers. “But why did it take so long?”

Thinking about the hard-won wisdom gathered along her journey to that point, she wondered if there was a way to share what she had learned with younger women, so they could make smart choices earlier in life. From there, ENTITY was born. Schwab pivoted from the corporate world to launch a program offering mentorship, education programs, and an online publication aimed at women from 17 to 24.

“Especially in the workplace, I didn’t have other women who could help show me the way in my twenties,” Schwab says. “It became my purpose to help women in that age group.”

EntityMag, the project’s media arm, now reaches around 15 million people each month with articles about career, personal growth, self care, healthy relationships, and profiles of inspirational women. Much of the content would be at home on any site or magazine that targets young women (articles with like “What Cocktail Are You, Based on Your Zodiac Sign?” or “How to Tell If He’s the One”) but that’s all part of the strategy, because mixed in—and often featured more prominently—you’ll find “The Perfect Way to Navigate Salary Questions During a Job Interview,” and advice for coping with mental health, layoffs, harassment, and other serious concerns.

Sharing knowledge about handling hardships is also central to the curriculum of ENTITY’s signature program, ENTITY Academy. The six-week program brings young women from across the country together in ENTITY’s Boyle Heights headquarters (a building which, in a bit of historical irony, was erected to house a chapter of the all-male secret society Knights of Pythias) for workshops and mentorship sessions with business leaders, but in Schwab’s mind, the most important thing they can teach isn’t how to build a portfolio or write a résumé, it’s helping individuals develop a strong sense of self.

“Inevitably these women are going to encounter setbacks out there, so we focus on the need to teach resilience. That way, they won’t be blindsided or derailed when negative scenarios occur,” she says.

She also hopes to impart a sense that mentorship is important at every phase of a person’s career and life. According one study, 63 percent of American women in the workforce report they have no one in their life they consider a mentor, and Schwab hopes programs like hers will inspire more women to seek out mentor-protégé partnerships.

“Women who are in a position to mentor to younger women need to be proactive about reaching out and paying it forward,” she notes. “We need to offer what we’ve learned to help other women who feel like they have to bootstrap on their own.”

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