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The merchandise has been going quickly — to the point that taking the time to think about purchasing one of the vintage items, rather than immediately adding it to one’s online shopping cart, may very well mean seeing “SOLD” (to someone else) listed in the interim. 

This scenario has been the case with The Janet Jackson Archive posted on The RealReal, a site dedicated to the buying and selling of luxury goods. The archive primarily includes T-shirts from her past concerts such as “The Velvet Rope” tour as well as tour-related baseball hats, scarves and handkerchiefs, with all proceeds going to Oakland’s Girls Leadership

In operation for over 13 years, the nonprofit organization focuses on teaching K-12 girls to exercise the power of their own voices and promotes social and emotional learning (SEL) as a foundation for leadership development. Jackson personally selected and reached out to Girls Leadership based on her interest in the organization and its work in gender and racial equity.

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As Girls Leadership co-CEO Takai Tyler says of Jackson, “She’s this very obviously world-renowned, powerful Black woman, who can also then still speak to the challenges that she faced in her own life. So the fact that she saw the work that we were doing and that she was able to both personally understand the importance of it and then provide support for other girls was, for me, the most significant and heartwarming [aspect].”

Girls Leadership, in its effort to meet the needs of all girls — particularly those who are routinely marginalized — offers a variety of programs to ensure that they are well-equipped to express themselves and develop their leadership skills. Such program offerings extend to girls’ families and other influencers, such as teachers.

Cofounder and co-CEO Simone Marean explains, “We start doing that work in kindergarten, when usually the power of their voice is really strong. And so in elementary school, we’re working with girls and families and schools on preventing that loss of voice and confidence that so many girls experience around adolescence. In the middle school and high school years, we’re teaching girls and families in schools to be aware of the impact of gender norms and gender expectations and teaching them the skills to push back against those cultural pressures that reward girls for giving up their voice and their confidence.”

Simone Marean, left, and Takai Tyler are the co-CEOs of Girls Leadership, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland. (Photo courtesy Chloe Jackman)

The programs — including professional development for educators, family-based workshops for K-8 girls as well as girls-centered programming — correspond with Girls Leadership’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), with the ultimate aim to welcome all girls and value their leadership abilities.

As Tyler explains, “The DEI statement on our site is embedded in everything that we do as an organization, whether we’re talking about the staffing, the board representation, the content and the materials that we provide in our workshops, our training, as well as our having a more expansive definition of what it means to be a girl and recognizing that young people can self-identify.” 

She continues, “On a larger level, gender expectations impact all young people. And so because most of our classrooms are coed classrooms, our curriculum can be used in those environments as well. Not just in all-girls schools or all-girl environments.”

In connection with its mission to teach girls to exercise the power of their voices, Girls Leadership promotes four key values: authentic communication, courageous growth, equity and play. (Photo courtesy Girls Leadership)

Jackson personally selected Girls Leadership as a donation recipient based on its far-reaching and important focus on girls’ confidence, leadership and, more generally, personal growth throughout childhood and into adulthood. In connection with her donation, she gave this statement:

“The sooner we can teach our girls how to speak up for themselves and to stand up for one another and in what they believe in, the better position they’ll be as they get older. Women need to support one another more from Day One and that starts when we’re younger. We owe it to the younger generation to teach them, so they make fewer mistakes than we did.”

Jackson’s message and her archive proceeds will surely have a positive impact on Girls Leadership’s DEI initiatives and programs — and, correspondingly, on girls themselves.

How to help

To learn more about Girls Leadership programs, workshops and professional development opportunities, go here: https://girlsleadership.org/programs/.

To purchase an item from the Janet Jackson Archive to support Girls Leadership, go here: https://www.therealreal.com/flash_sales/the-realreal-x-janet-jackson-5313.

To donate directly to Girls Leadership, go here: https://girlsleadership.org/donate/.