CLEVELAND — Bianca Crawford is the founder and CEO of Motivated and Empowered Inc. The mission of her nonprofit organization may be simple, but Crawford’s life has been anything but simple.
“My mom had me at such a young age and other family members, friends, just trying to make it to 18, I lived all over,” Crawford said.
One place Crawford felt safe was at school.
“When bad things were going on, I emerged in school. My mom became abusive, I went to school. I was molested and raped. I took that frustration out in school,” she said.
She has made it her life’s mission to provide safe spaces for young girls growing up in Cleveland. She’s used her story and experience to mentor and support girls with in-school and out-of-school programming.
“The things that you think the boys are doing first is not the case. So it shows it's more likely the girls are the first ones to smoke a cigarette. Girls are the first ones to kind of initiate sex. Girls are the first ones to try to run away from home, right? So if we can kind of combat those issues and kind of work towards resolving them, then you kind of shift the dynamics of the generation,” Crawford said.
This year, she opened the Motivated and Empowered Inc. resource center in downtown Cleveland.
Over 60 girls are enrolled at the resource center, which provides them a space to learn and grow both scholastically and emotionally, and of course to just have fun.
“If they have a passion like I want to do art, so now we need to focus on art with them. I want to do dance, we need to focus on dance with them. I need to work on my education. OK, so now we need to call our tutors and this is what they need to be doing,” she said.
Crawford said she knew exactly what these girls needed, because of everything she didn’t have.
“Everything in the center and then what we offer outside the center was tailor-made to what I experienced in life,” she said.