About the PowHERful Foundation

Our Mission

The PowHERful Foundation gets young women to, and through, college. We provide financial assistance, mentorship, and wraparound services to help our scholars achieve their highest potentials.

We reach an even broader audience through our Summit series, where we bring day-long conferences to major cities across the country for young women.

Who We Are


There was the father who lost his grip on his little boy in the Indonesian Tsunami and the Japanese fearful of radiation poisoning. I was haunted for years after seeing the homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I still visit the orphaned children of the Haiti earthquake. I remember the faces of the few survivors I met and push away memories of the thousands who did not. There was so little I could do to help.

Or was there? Those who dedicate themselves to rescue often tell the Starfish Story. When I heard it, it drove its way into my heart.

Countless starfish have washed ashore on a beach and are dying off. A little boy is picking them up and tossing them back into the ocean in the hope they’ll survive. A man walks by and asks him why he’s doing something so futile.

“There are hundreds,” he points out. “What difference will it make?”

The boy picks up another starfish, throws it into the sea and says: “It will make a difference to that one.”

I wanted to make a difference. Maybe this was the way. I had met many young women whose life plans had been stagnated by terrible disasters, compounded by generational poverty — some were just down on their luck. I could help one of them, do my part, and maybe launch a successful young woman into a brighter future. Then they could go off into the world and help others.

In 2017, Starfish became PowHERful to better reflect the empowerment we provide young women all across the country. Welcome to the PowHERful Foundation. I hope you’ll join us.

Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond at the 2016 PowHERful Foundation Gala
Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond at the 2016 PowHERful (Formerly Starfish) Foundation Gala

What We Do


The PowHERful Foundation exists to provide hardworking young women with the resources necessary to succeed.

For reasons beyond their control, many young women of color from low-income families are less likely than their middle-class counterparts to attend and finish college. This makes it tough for them to get well-paying jobs, maintain healthy lifestyles and enjoy full societal and civic participation. What many of these young women do have, however, is intellect, resilience and spark.

We’re here to get these young women out of the shadows and onto the road toward their dreams.

Renée Joslyn.
Executive Director

PowHERful Donors

Endless thanks to our generous sponsors and funders.