ESSENCE overview

The ESSENCE little sister program

Our application process for Little Sisters and Big Sisters are currently closed.  Please check back later for any new updates.


The purpose of the E.S.S.E.N.C.E. Program is to create an opportunity for young women of color to intentionally participate in activities and relationships that work to improve on who they are. This involves discussions, workshops, field trips, and service projects that relate to building a positive self-esteem, cultural identification, leadership abilities, and strengthening academic skills and goals.

Structure of the Program:

For three (3) weeks over the summer, ladies of E.S.S.E.N.C.E. will participate in a fairly intense series of workshops, discussions, and projects that work to meet the overall purpose of the program. At the end of this period, they will be inducted into the program that will continue throughout their 8th grade year. At the end of the year, they will participate in the evolution ceremony, which signifies their preparedness to move to the next phase of their lives.

Understanding that change is difficult, the program provides the option for young women to continue in the program through their freshman year of high school. They would continue to work with the same UofL lady of E.S.S.E.N.C.E. to support and guide them through the transition. The program will offer opportunities to demonstrate the skills gained during their first year in the program through leadership roles, workshop facilitations, and self-constructed and implemented service projects. At their second year, they will officially be a graduate of the program.


One of the greatest benefits of being a part of the program is the knowledge they gain about themselves and how it impacts others. This self-awareness will not only delve into topics like body image, relationships, and issues of safety, but also about Black history and culture and how Blacks have contributed to building America.

Besides general self-awareness, they will gain experience. Through role play, field trips, interviews and panel discussions, shadow opportunities, and guided responsibilities; these young women will have an opportunity to be exposed to other successful Black females, and demonstrate a new skill set, and visit places they have not been exposed to before.

Finally, the one benefit that is most important to the participants of the program is that it is fun. The atmosphere is a relaxed one, and even when they are learning, it will be within a social and practical context.