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Shoulders-to-Stand-On Program Readies Girls for Post-Secondary Education

Destiny is a junior at Neenah High School and is participating in the Shoulders-to-Stand-On program. Grants from within the Community Foundation help provide girls from low-income families opportunities to successfully pursue post-secondary education and to remove barriers that could prevent them from reaching their goals..


  By Michael Voet, executive director of Life Tools Foundation Inc.

The seed for the Life Tools Foundation’s new Shoulders-to-Stand-On (SSO) Program was supported by grants from within the Community Foundation via the Bright Idea Fund and from Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region, specifically their Girls’ Grantmaking Project.

Michael Voet

Michael Voet

Each year the Women’s Fund gathers a group of teenage girls from the Fox Valley to examine the needs of girls in the greater Fox Valley region, determines a funding objective, and then awards $10,000 in grants to qualified organizations to achieve those goals.

This year, the Girls Grantmaking Project prioritized access and opportunities for post-secondary education.  Using this framework, the team at the Life Tools Foundation created the SSO program.  The goal is to provide 50 or more high school girls in the Neenah and Menasha areas from economically disadvantaged families with the academic and life skills they will need to successfully pursue their post-secondary educational dreams.

Beth Voet, board member of Life Tools Foundation (Left), and Julie Keller,Women’s Fund Executive Director

Early in October, the Life Tools Foundation, in partnership with Neenah High School, began providing one-on-one academic tutoring, ACT test prep assistance, and life skills mentoring (organization, perseverance, daily accountability, confidence, etc.), to a group of high school girls selected for the program.

Life Tools Foundation tutors have been working on campus with Neenah High School girls on a variety of STEM subjects including Chemistry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and ACT test prep. The tutoring has also included the development of critical life skills that will allow these girls to successfully pursue their post-secondary educational dreams.

Kristin Mahoney, a seasoned guidance counselor at Neenah High School, has been instrumental in identifying girls who qualify for the program, as well as handling the logistics of student schedules and tutoring blocks.

Mahoney is very pleased with the results of the program to-date and shared a quote from a junior at Neenah High School who is benefiting from the tutoring: “Knowing that I can meet with someone each week to get help with my classes has been super helpful.  It is also very encouraging to know I am preparing for the ACT in a way that I would not have been able to without the program.”

The Life Tools Foundation is hoping to expand the program later in January to include Menasha High School and St. Mary High School.


You can make the Bright Ideas burn even brighter by adding your support.  Check out our current Bright Idea Fund results from 2019 – 2020!

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