Helping BLACK girls uniquely define, discover and become who they are.™
In 2009, Shaleah Laché Sutton launched UNIQUELY YOU SUMMIT, INC. (UYS) a one-of-a-kind annual forum in the greater Philadelphia region where 500 black girls, from 11 to 18 years old, engage in discussion and dialogue that addresses the complexities of being 'black and female' in America. Since its inception, UYS has impacted thousands of young black women and girls through the work of our annual Summit.
Black girls wrestle with very distinct challenges and distractions during their formative years – including preoccupation with their skin complexion, hair texture, body type, and sexuality; navigating depression, emotional stress and trauma; difficulty perceiving long-range consequences of their actions; and weakened self-esteem. "We want to create an experiential dialogue and outreach that aids in eliminating the perception of isolation. Our hope is that by discovering the universality of their feelings and experiences, the barriers to becoming their best and most unique self are removed." Sutton says.
Over the years Sutton has expanded her commitment and vision of empowering young black women and girls by creating new platforms such as Conversations #ForTheLoveOfBlackGirls, peer-led open discussions for high school girls where they are encouraged to discover and use their unique voices concerning the societal and political factors plaguing their communities and schools. For Seniors Only, a two-day special edition of the UNIQUELY YOU SUMMIT (at UPENN’s Wharton School), specifically designed to strengthen, support, and empower 25 graduating high school seniors as they broaden their journey into womanhood, enter college, and ultimately prepare to become agents for change in both their individual and interpersonal lives. The UYS Cover Girl Cohort, a selected group of 12 girls, serving annually as peer-mentors and peer-leaders, representing the organization as the official faces and voices of its programming and initiatives. Our goal is to help them become active, engaged and influential global citizens; who believe they can transform not only their community, but the world. And lastly, the #WhatIKnowNow Series, which features black celebrity panelists, including actresses Teyonah Parris, Sheryl Lee Ralph and SNL Comedienne Sasheer Zamata, examines matters related to the black woman experience.