L’Oréal Paris Announces Women of Worth Finalists – WWD

L’Oréal Paris has revealed its Women of Worth finalists, 10 nonprofit leaders receiving a grant of $25,000 each for their causes.

“This year, we will give $250,000 toward these women,” said Ali Goldstein, brand president of L’Oréal Paris USA.

The company has selected Shrusti Amula of Rise N Shine Foundation; Judaline Cassidy of Tools & Tiaras; Cass Forkin of Twilight Wish Foundation; Sophia Kianni of Climate Cardinals; Estefanía Rebellón of Yes We Can World Foundation; Tonya Sandis of Free2Luv; Sonia Su of Kits to Heart; Mariya Taher of Sahiyo U.S.; Samantha Wettje of 16 Strong Project, and Stephanie Woodward of EmpowHer Network.

“Women of Worth is my most favorite thing that L’Oréal does,” said Aja Naomi King, a L’Oréal Paris ambassador since 2017. “It’s such a powerful initiative, really highlighting women who are working so hard on a grassroots level to make a tremendous impact on their communities.”

The company as a whole was involved in narrowing down the winners from a list of more than 2,000 applicants, double from last year. King was among the final judging panel.

“It felt like such an incredible and yet overwhelming responsibility, because you’re just looking at all these incredible women who are doing so much in their communities while having so little, and they’re all so solution-oriented and work so tirelessly to help people,” said King. “I wanted to do them justice by just being able to really research what they were doing and taking it very seriously to help narrow down this class…It’s always really hard to narrow it down to 10 because there is such wonderful work being done. I think every single person out there deserves to be honored and acknowledged, but we try to highlight the ones that are making an impact in areas that really need extra attention.”

There are three themes that emerged this year, said Goldstein: mental health, climate change and youth empowerment.

“Over time, what’s really become so interesting is each year the organizations that we recognize, in a way, reflect the issues of the moment,” said Goldstein.

Both the executive and King called attention to 17-year-old Amula of Clarksburg, Maryland — the youngest on the list.

“This is a teenager who noticed the amount of waste that was happening not only in her school, but the schools in her community, and she started this program after school to reduce the food waste by creating a youth-led composting at the school, as well as recovery programs to give to those in need,” said King.

Now in its 18th year, L’Oréal Paris has provided millions of dollars to a total of 180 Women of Worth finalists. The company also offers mentorship and works to bring awareness to the organizations. Individuals are invited to learn more about the causes and donate funds at womenofworth.com.

“Essentially, it’s a Women of Worth fund, centralized through [grant-making partner] GlobalGiving, and all the money that goes into that Women of Worth contribution will be divided among the 10 women,” said Goldstein. “Of course, if there’s one organization that you particularly like, you can get directly to that one organization, but we want to make sure that all these women get funding.”

L’Oréal Paris will host a party to celebrate the women, and then it’s onto the next class.  

“We have our big celebration at the end of the year and pretty much immediately after we open the nominations for next year,” she added. “It’s truly a continuous cycle.”

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