Models Ebonee Davis and Kenya Kinski-Jones Team Up to Support Foster Girls


Last night, we attended a day of empowerment by the Ticket to Dream Foundation and Project Glimmer in support of the 2,000 foster girls that will be graduating high school and college nationwide this year. In the U.S., foster kids’ futures are considered to be “at risk” and the stats are alarming. Less than 50% graduate high school, less than 3% will earn a college degree, and 1 in 5 will be homeless within a year of aging out of the system. The event, which was attended by model/activists Ebonee Davis, Kenya Kinki-Jones, and Gracie Carvalho, celebrates such an important milestone that most girls in foster care aren’t able to reach. To sponsor the cause, Select World and the Lions Model Management teamed up with Project Glimmer, which was founded by Sonia Perkins.

Perkins became involved with the San Francisco Fire Department’s toy drive, and noticed that there was a lack of similar programming and outreach for teenage girls. She thought it unacceptable to be forgotten on your birthday or during the holidays, so she set out to acquire local donations of beauty products and jewelry to give to underserved girls in her community, with the idea of making them feel worthy and confident. It was the beginning of Project Glimmer, which has since exploded into a nationwide charity that has donated around 230,000 gifts in over 40 communities since 2010.

Back to last night’s festivities: Four of the graduating foster girls came together to film an PSA campaign to empower other foster kid graduates to keep pushing for their dreams the way they did. Ad Agency Select World donated their facilities and manpower for the photos, while the new grads were treated to pampering from professional makeup artists at Glamsquad. This was all followed by an uplifting panel discussion.

“If I can help even one young woman by sharing how I found more inner confidence it’s worth it,” Cavalho said. “I want all the graduates to know that they can do anything they set their mind to.” Kenya Kinski Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones, echoed the same sentiments, saying that her greatest motivation was encountering courageous women like the foster grads. “These girls are an inspiration to us. I look up to all of them.” She grew up in a household with six sisters, she understands how far love and encouragement between women can go. “I think it’s so important for them to see that their community supports them,” she said, “they’re all in these transitional periods. I want them to feel loved.” Of all the graduates there, she said a woman named Latrice Cole inspired her the most.

Latrice left the foster care system at age 18 and, against all odds, was able to attend college. She graduated with flying colors, even earning honors. She plans to attend graduate school in the fall, getting her degree in social work, and she has big plans for her post-grad life. “I really want to work with the foster care system. Either in child advocacy or foster care,” she said. Well on her way already, she completed an internship for one of the participating charities and will go on to work for them as a coordinator. “Share your life experiences, what you’ve learned that’s worked. And what you learned that didn’t work. Grow together, so that you can mentor someone else, and they can mentor someone else. Words of encouragement are ultimately the most powerful.”

Ebonee Davis feels the same urge to pay her success as a model forward. “I feel connected to this cause because I want to be a role model, and to give the representation that I didn’t have when I was growing up. I feel it’s an opportunity to reach back and give what I wasn’t given,” she said. During the panel discussion, she recounted moving to New York with 0 in her pocket. In her first apartment she slept on the bare floor unable to afford a mattress. Every agency she asked went to for work as a model slammed the door in her face because they already had “a token black girl.” She held steadfast to her dream. “Passion is the greatest fuel for life,” she said. And so is learning from your failures. Davis cites that she found comfort in knowing it was O.K. to fail. “Being able to talk and share your story…that’s what’s missing right now,” she says. “And diverse narratives.”

“Don’t underestimate anyone, women in particular,” Kenya added. “We need to all be given the same platform. We need to get rid of these societal norms, and expectations that we carry.”


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