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Women of Worth: L’Oréal Highlights Community Changemakers

Published August 13, 2023
Published August 13, 2023

L'Oréal's famous tagline "Because you're worth it" extends beyond uplifting consumers through cosmetics, thanks to its Women of Worth initiative. The program gives $25,000 to 10 nonprofit leaders who work continuously to address issues in their communities. Now in its 18th year, with 180 previous honorees, L'Oréal has revealed the outstanding names behind its 2023 Women of Worth. BeautyMatter takes a closer look at each honoree:

Shrusti Amula is a high school student and the founder of a youth-led nonprofit organization, the Rise N Shine Foundation. Amula's charity is dedicated to reducing food waste through composting and food recovery programs to benefit the environment. Amula began her climate activism at the age of seven when she taught herself the dangers food waste can pose to the environment. By 12 years old, the pre-teen had created a composting program that was adopted by her state for use in schools. To date, Amula has prevented over 100,000  pounds of food waste from being incinerated, and instead composted. In recent years, Amula has extended her work to food recovery in schools and businesses, with many more schools adopting her composting system, set to reach 209 by 2024. The honoree also partners with food redistribution companies and has donated over 150,000 meals to food-insecure communities.

Judaline Cassidy founded Tools & Tiaras in 2017 to show that girls' jobs do not have to be gendered. Working as a plumber in New York City for the past 25 years, Cassidy fights for equity for women in the male-dominated construction trades. Named as one of CNN's 2020 Champions for Change, Cassidy has empowered girls as young as six years old through the Tools & Tiaras weekend workshops and annual summer camps. Tradeswomen teach these workshops and focus on the skills needed to work in a such careers, designed to alter the "women's work" narrative, teaching young girls that they can seek out any career they wish to.

Cass Forkin is the founder and Chairwoman of the Twilight Wish Foundation, an organization dedicated to making the world a better place for older people, one wish at a time. To enrich the lives of seniors, the organization grants wishes and facilitates connections between generations. Forkin says she founded the nonprofit "after a near-death experience as a child and realized the best we can do in this world is to love all others unconditionally." Through the Twilight Wish Foundation, Forkin has made over 5,000 seniors' wishes come true, including helping war veterans receive public thank-yous for their services in WWII.

Sophia Kianni is an Iranian-American social entrepreneur, activist, and student, as well as the founder and Executive Director of Climate Cardinals. Kianni's charity is the world's largest youth-led climate nonprofit, with over 9,000 volunteers in 40 countries. The activist created the nonprofit when she  was in middle school, realizing the alarming lack of climate change awareness among her Iranian relatives. Through Climate Cardinals, Kianni translates climate resources into varying languages, making them understandable worldwide, and has previously worked with names including Greta Thunberg to organize climate strikes in high schools. The charity now works with Google,  piloting AI. tools to automate its climate translations, which has led to over 500,000+ translated words in over 40 languages. Kianni's translations have been used within the United Nations Development Programme, making her the youngest United Nations advisor in US history.

Estefanía Rebellión is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Yes We Can World Foundation. The female-run nonprofit works to give children quality education, mental health support, and a safe space regardless of their location, legal status, or economic background. The charity was founded due to Rebellión's experience as a refugee child from Colombia, where she realized there was an apparent lack of child-friendly spaces in refugee camps. Through the nonprofit, Rebellión and her team have built four new schools, funded three school buses, donated over 3,000 school backpacks filled with supplies, and helped over 3,100 children gain a safe education. The Yes We Can World Foundation has now expanded beyond schools and launched a resettlement program throughout the US to give continued support to incoming refugees and migrant families.

Toyna Sandis is the co-founder and President of Possibilities at Free2Luv, an award-winning youth empowerment nonprofit that aims to fight the youth suicide epidemic and mental health crisis. An Emmy-nominated producer, published author, and branding specialist, Sandis uses her knowledge and skills of the entertainment industry to transform the lives of under-resourced and marginalized youths. Free2Luv's services range from free creative journals to art programs and mentorship schemes. As a result of the success of the nonprofit, Sandis has earned Lifetime Achievement awards and been honored as a top nonprofit for 12 consecutive years.

Sonia Su founded Kits to Heart with a mission to "bring smiles and solidarity to those affected by cancer." The nonprofit was created after Su was diagnosed with lymphoma at 24 years old, and received a care package from a former patient who was also receiving treatment for a similar illness. After this act of kindness, Su promised herself that once she was well again, she would pay this kindness forward by doing a similar thing on a larger scale. Su provides care packages for those suffering with the help of over 5,000 volunteers, including nontoxic skincare, comfort items, and other small luxuries. At present, Kits to Heart has distributed over 6,000 cancer care kits, as well as launching the Art for Cancer Wellness Program that addresses the issue of loneliness during cancer, providing tools to help patients, caregivers, and oncology healthcare workers cope.

Mariya Taher is the co-founder and director of Sahiyo US, a nonprofit that fights to end female genital cutting (FGC) in Asian communities that have been previously unrepresented. Taher grew up in a society that practiced FGC, and in her graduate school years, she studied the topic for social work, leading her to write publicly on the issue. The more Taher shared about her experience, the more survivors came forward to tell their stories, leading to the creation of Sahiyo US. The organization also provides training to educate FGC survivor service providers throughout the US, teaching them how to give culturally specific care to survivors.

Samantha Wettje founded the 16 Strong Project to become a voice for youths whose mental health has been impacted by adverse childhood experiences. Wettje created the nonprofit after growing up with a parent suffering from addiction and mental illness and feeling she had no way to explain her situation, often leaving her feeling alone. The 16 Strong Project aims to help those experiencing similar challenges by educating young people on adverse childhood experiences, making sure they know how to recognize their situation, prioritize their mental health, learn coping skills, and have a trusted person to confide in. The organization provides free educational materials to schools across the country, having already reached 200,000 young people in over 25 states.

Stephanie Woodward is the co-founder and Executive Director of Disability EmpowHer Network, a nonprofit run by women for women with disabilities, teaching them how to develop their highest potential and be confident. Woodward created the charity to provide strong role models for disabled women after she felt there were not many presented to her as a child. After originating as a volunteer-only organization, Disability EmpowHer Network is now a fully formed nonprofit that has helped over 45 disabled girls and women with paid work opportunities, provided 120 other women mentors, and presented leadership development programs.

To further promote the honorees, L'Oréal has partnered with Warner Bros. Discovery's Courageous brand studio to create a storytelling campaign that highlights each Women of Worth's journey and achievements. The visual stories will be pushed through Warner Bros. Discovery digital sites and apps, as well as targeted ads.

As well as receiving their $25,000 grant, each Woman of Worth will receive business mentorship and increased visibility for their nonprofit through L'Oréal's social networks nationwide. For the first time in the 18 years of the initiative, L'Oréal partnered with GlobalGiving to establish the L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth Fund, which allows consumers to donate to benefit all 10 of the honorees' nonprofit. The decision to include donations from consumers sets this grant program apart from others in the industry by further promoting the businesses founded and managed by these extraordinary women—inspiring consumers to do things beyond the norm and uplift others in the process.

"It is with great pride that we welcome ten more incredible changemakers into the L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth family, now 180 women strong. By championing female nonprofitt leaders and their selfless work, we hope to inspire people to tap into their own sense of worth to create positive change," concludes L'Oréal Paris USA President Ali Goldstein.


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