EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see the bottom of the article for the North County African American Women’s Association scholarship award list.
OCEANSIDE — An association of professional women has helped young women and girls pursue higher education for more than a quarter-century in North County, overcoming all odds after a year of pandemic challenges.
Based in Oceanside, the North County African American Women’s Association (NCAAWA) was first formed in 1995 when 11 women, majority educators, formed an organization that aimed to provide support for young and adult women. Since then, the non-profit organization has grown to nearly 120 members, focusing on educational advancement as well as health awareness and life skill improvement.
“We empower women to embrace higher education, either through a vocational or academic setting,” said NCAAWA President Linda Berry.
According to its website, the association supports all women in North County “celebrating ethnic and racial pride.”
The association provides two mentoring programs to young women, one for middle school students and the other for high school students.
The “Becoming a Global Citizen Program” started as a pilot mentoring program at King Middle School in Oceanside with partial support from a Staples Foundation grant.
Now, the program is a full-fledged, 10-week afterschool session each semester. The program includes activities that help develop leadership, public speaking, decision-making and etiquette skills as well as promoting overall self-sufficiency.
The association has since expanded its program to include high school students through its “global ambassador” program.
Each year, the association gives out thousands of dollars in scholarship money to multiple students throughout North County. This year alone, NCAAWA gave out $39,500 in scholarships to more than 30 women in June.
“Our students endured, persevered and overcame incredible odds last year,” said member Deborah Matthews.
To fundraise for its annual scholarship awards, each year NCAAWA hosts its Annual Gentlemen’s Gourmet, a competition that men enter for the title of “king of the kitchen” by making their own signature dishes. Attendees choose the winners of different categories ranging from amateur to professional chefs status.
This year’s Gentlemen’s Gourmet will be held at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad on Sept. 25. Tickets for the event can be purchased on the association’s website.
“It’s really a fun time,” Berry said about the event. “I’m super excited because we didn’t have the chance to have it last year.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the association to postpone its major fundraising event, NCAAWA gathered the money it needed to continue providing scholarships this year. Berry said the community’s support was a huge help.
“The community knew our work, they trust us,” Berry said. “We also had a lot of new sponsors, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Watkins Wellness and Wells Fargo.”
A GoFundMe page was also set up to help the association fundraiser last year as well. Berry said the organization received several thousand dollars from smaller donations and nearly $30,000 from the larger, previously noted companies.
“All of our money goes directly to support our programs that benefit the girls,” Berry said.
Every two years, the NCAAWA hosts its Women’s Conference, another special networking event for teen and adult women.
The event includes various workshops with speakers, networking opportunities and a luncheon for attendees. The next Women’s Conference is scheduled for March 2022 and will also be held at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.
“This event focuses on our mission statement,” Berry said. “It addresses the physical, mental and social wellbeing of young ladies and women.”
To learn more about NCAAWA visit www.ncaawa.org.
The North County African American Women’s Association Scholarship Award List:
|First Name||Last Name||AWARD NAME|
|Shaylee||Anderson||North Island Credit Union Scholarship|
|Alexis||Coleman||The Agnes Diggs Scholarship|
|Rosalinda Deziree||Jolivette||NCAAWA Scholarship|
|Shanyce||McCullough||The Every Man Network STEAM Leader Scholarship|
|Lena||McEachern||North Island Credit Union Scholarship|
|Chyann||Peacock||The Every Man Network STEAM Leader Scholarship|
|Anna-Kaye||Powell||North Island Credit Union Scholarship|
|Brianna||Shea||The Every Man Network STEAM Leader Scholarship|
|Ariana||White||North Island Credit Union Scholarship|