Our Squad Is Our Greatest Gift

Meet One of 1,600 Women Mentors Making a Difference

Sometimes you meet someone like Celeste Bell who is so inspiring that you think she’s Superwoman. She is a passionate, goal-driven leader and athlete who has lived many lives - and doing good for Play Like a Girl is at the top of her agenda.

Celeste is an HR executive for multinational ad agencies, has been a ladder-climbing professional for various sports organizations including the LPGA, NBA & MLB, and is a record-breaking distance runner who has run 66 full marathons -- across all 50 U.S. states and on every continent. And most raised money to benefit girls we serve, by the way!

Celeste is also a dedicated mentor, leader and former chairwoman of the Play Like a Girl Board of Directors. Most importantly, her impact in the lives of girls we serve is unmatched.

In fact, she will tell you that she didn’t get to where she is today without her own tribe of strong women coaches, mentors and role models who have guided her throughout different stages in her life.

[bctt tweet="“It’s so important to have another voice...to have someone to lean on. Throughout all of my different experiences, there was always one person who I identified and leaned on who I felt wanted the best for me, were open and honest, and wanted to see me succeed.”" username="iplaylikeagirl"]

Because of her own life experiences with barrier-breaking women, Celeste recognizes the importance of strong female leadership and mentors for girls and young women -- especially those in their vulnerable adolescent years.

She uses her role as a Play Like a Girl mentor to help middle school girls build confidence, establish goals and learn to identify and strengthen their own superpowers. This year, she also led Play Like a Girl’s first-ever virtual speed networking event in collaboration with one of her own role models, her boss and glass ceiling-breaker, Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York.

Our greatest gift this year has been the time, support and dedication of women (and a few good men!) like Celeste. Thanks to our partnership with LinkedIn, our girls get to learn from over 1,600 women professionals from across the nation in our free virtual mentoring program, Meet + Mentor.

To the entire Play Like a Girl SQUAD, whether you stepped up as a mentor, donor or partner this year: THANK YOU!

Without you, our programs would not be possible.

Learning in a COVID World

Access to Technology is More Essential Now Than Ever Before

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed -- and even deepened -- the impact of the digital divide among girls across the globe. With the world’s mass transition to virtual learning, access to technology, including hardware devices, software, and WiFi access, has become more important now than ever before.

Students without access to these essential resources have proven to be less engaged in the classroom, thus decreasing educational and career opportunities and deepening income inequities.

At Play Like a Girl, we believe every student should be afforded the same learning opportunities. So, we’re doing something to change that. We’ve partnered with the Frist Foundation and AmazonSmile to deliver much-needed resources, including iPad Minis, laptops and WiFi hotspots to girls in need. Additional funding from partners like Gilead Sciences helps connect these girls with positive women role models and mentors through our virtual mentoring program, Meet + Mentor.

Meet the Watsons

As a mother of three young girls, Angie Watson wants to give her daughters opportunities that she didn’t have in her youth.

“Dreaming was a luxury that we didn’t have," she said. "We didn’t realize you could have a dream and that you could achieve it. We were never told you can be whatever you wanted to be.”

Despite graduating with honors, her guidance counselor told her she couldn’t go to college because she didn’t have her parents’ support.

[bctt tweet="“When I became a mom, especially to three girls, I wanted them to fully believe that the sky’s the limit. I don’t want them to feel limited because of finances that you can’t achieve your goals, because that’s not right and it’s not fair.”" username="iplaylikeagirl"]

Sadly, she said, education is not free, which is frustrating when you’re limited.

“Financially, we’re unable to do all the things I want to be able to do with and for my girls,” she said. “That’s why programs like this mean so much.”

Not only are her two oldest daughters, Dasani and Arianna, participants in Play Like a Girl’s program, but recently, Dasani was awarded a laptop and Arianna a tablet through Amazon’s #DeliveringSmiles initiative.

Although both girls were given school-assigned laptops, the devices are limited and must be given back at the end of the semester. Their new devices will allow the girls to pursue their passions and interests year-round. For Dasani, that means learning how to code and keeping in touch with the study group she started. For Arianna, it’s pursuing her interest in weather science and participating in Play Like a Girl’s virtual Meet + Mentor program whenever she wants.

Access to technology does much more than keep the Watson girls connected to the outside world; it gives them the opportunity to pursue their passions and expose them to new growth opportunities.

“I want to help them achieve their goals," she said. "All I really want for them is to know that they can dream and there’s no limit -- that they can feed their passion and they can be whatever they want to be and that they can be happy and fulfilled.”


You Make Our Work Possible

Your Generosity is Appreciated!

As we approach the end of 2020, we wish to thank all of you - our SQUAD, our dedicated and generous community of supporters — for your involvement in our Giving Tuesday campaign on yesterday.

But you didn’t just show up for us on yesterday. You have consistently given and volunteered and cheered us on throughout this very challenging year. For that, we appreciate you!

Thanks to every one of you for every dollar given, and for every person you’ve encouraged to give. Plus, you haven’t stopped talking about our mission everywhere you go.

In fact, the social media activity around Play Like a Girl has been all the buzz since Sarah Fuller decided to include us in her milestone moment in college football this past Saturday. And you won’t let the momentum die. Thank YOU!

After massive school closures last spring, we quickly developed our first virtual summer camp serving girls across the nation. Despite a $150K budget shortfall, we also proudly discounted our programs 100% with help from donors like you - providing scholarships to every single family during this difficult financial time.

We’ve provided free computers, tablets and WiFi hotspots to girls in need - thanks to the Frist Foundation, Center for Nonprofit Management, and Amazon’s #DeliveringSmiles holiday campaign. And, our furloughed staff of one has recruited over 1,500 women STEM professionals nationwide with the help of the LinkedIn for Nonprofits initiative. These women will serve as mentors and role models to our girls.

The work has continued through the fall with our Play Like a Girl LIVE event series featuring women like former USWNST Captain and U.S. Olympian Christie Rampone and our brand new Meet + Mentor virtual mentoring program.

Our girls have started businessesexplored space at NASA, built mobile apps with Black Girls Code and so much more through hands-on opportunities led by Play Like a Girl members (newly named The SQUAD) and corporate partners.

Your gifts will set us up to do even more amazing things for girls in Nashville and across the nation in 2021. But the impact of your gifts cannot be properly captured here.

So we’re starting High Five, a new monthly impact report that we’ll send to members of The SQUAD (our community of monthly donors) via email to update you on our progress together and remind you just how much your contributions matter.

Join our community today for your copy. High Five will even include stories from the girls you’ve impacted. We hope it makes you smile all month long.

To further express our appreciation, we’ve partnered with a few donors and key partners to help us give back too. Beginning on December 9th, we will be celebrating 12 Days of Giving with daily prizes, inspiration and a grand prize vacation to SoundWaves, Nashville’s upscale resort and water attraction.

Get in on the fun! Anyone can participate. Follow @iplaylikeagirl and use the hashtag #TheSQUADHoliday on Instagram.

Note: This giving season, Amazon will fulfill hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists including ours. You and any Amazon customer can join in the season of giving by choosing Play Like a Girl as your preferred charity and shopping through AmazonSmile, donating an item via our AmazonSmile Charity List, or making a monetary donation to Play Like a Girl by saying, “Alexa, I want to make a donation.”