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. They will partner with the ladies of E.S.S.E.N.C.E. through the Woodford Porter Scholars at the University of Louisville to continue the series of workshops, discussions, and activities that strengthen their core. 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.


Attendance during the summer session is required to participate in the program throughout the year. Excessive absences will be handled through consultation with the participant and the parent.

Transportation is the responsibility of the participant. In some cases, there have been opportunities for carpools, but this is not guaranteed. This is not a residential program, therefore participants will need someone to drop them off and pick them up daily.

There is no cost for participation in the program. There is no application or membership fee. The only cost participants may incur is that related to transportation or food during activities and field trips as well as any souvenirs that they wish to purchase.

Attire should be casual for the everyday sessions. On those occasions that activity will require something more, administrators will be sure to note it in the calendar and send a reminder home with the participant of the expectation.

Dr. Tomarra Adams