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The 5th Annual Day of the Girl Buffalo to take over the Buffalo Museum of Science on Saturday

Plus, Q and A with Zandra Cunningham, CEO and Founder of Zandra and The Zandra TLC Foundation

The Zandra TLC Foundation in collaboration with the Buffalo Museum of Science is hosting the 5th annual Day Of The Girl Buffalo on Saturday, October 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The annual event was created to inspire area girls to lead a healthy lifestyle and to offer access “to girls, regardless of income or background, to STEM & entrepreneurship education and a variety of careers opportunities.” Buffalo Rising is a proud media sponsor of this inspiring free event, “which now serves more than 300 local girls and families, is the biggest STEM, wellness, career, arts, networking and entrepreneurship summit for girls in our community and has had tremendous results.”

Also, debuting at this year’s event will be a parent engagement lounge. Adults and guardians will have the opportunity to attend mini-workshops, and connect with community events and organizations.

The foundation was created by Zandra Cunningham, the teen founder and CEO of Zandra, a natural skin care line that looks to inspire. In fact, 10% of all net profits are donated to support girls’ education. An international speaker before age 15, she has been featured on Black Enterprise, NPR, Seventeen Magazine, Girls Life Magazine, INC, USA TODAY, Nickelodeon, The TODAY Show, The Harry Connick Jr. Show and ABC Nightline. Zandra was the youngest graduate of the University At Buffalo CEL program, as well as a TEDx speaker.  

The Business of Being a Girl | Zandra Cunningham | TEDxYouth@Buffalo

The Zandra TLC Foundation is a 501(c)3 was established in 2016 to “expose, empower, and inspire Girls ages 7 -18 with an emphasis on underserved communities to see beyond their current situations and expose them to new possibilities in career choice, health, wellness, STEAM and more.” The stated mission is to “provide entrepreneurial education, experiences, mentorship along with networking opportunities and access to programming that will enhance the lives of young people so they can become change makers within their families and community.”

Q & A With Zandra Cunningham, Founder/CEO of Zandra and the Zandra TLC Foundation

J: This is the 5th Annual Day of the Girl, What inspired you to start this event?

Z: I was inspired by my connection to the Girl Rising Campaign. I came to realize when I was 13 years that there are girls in the world that still were being denied basic rights. I was shocked that girls were made to have kids and get married at just 14 years old. Here in America we have all this access to opportunity, education, and rights and I wanted my friends and youth in my community to understand that we should not be wasting our opportunity because there are girls in other parts of the world that are fight and literally dying to have what we have.  

So the summit was born. Every year we grow, we touch even more girls and families. Not only do they come to learn about the injustices girls face in other countries, but they also come to connect with each other and learn about all the amazing opportunities within their own community they could be taking advantage of and about wellness, art, STEM and career options that my have never considered.

J: As a female entrepreneur, how does it feel knowing that you are inspiring other women and girls?

Z: Knowing that I could inspire just one person to be better, think higher of themselves and their possibilities or situation is amazing! I think it’s one of the most beautiful feelings in the world is being able to help someone, help someone. Its’s a cycle, if I inspire you , you will fell good enough, confident enough to inspire her and she will inspire her. That’s how you create real change. Inspiration leads to creativity, action and community. There is so much negativity in the average girls environment, my messaging with both my products and programming is intentionally fighting that force.

J: What do you want the community to know about the Zandra TLC Foundation?

Z: I want the community to know that The Zandra TLC Foundation is here for girl by girls. I am giving to the community and youth what they need from a teen/ kids perspective. So often organization mean well and do amazing things but sometimes what might be missing is the voice of the young person they aim to serve. I want to be that voice. The Zandra TLC Foundation was created to expose, empower, and inspire Girls ages 7 -18 with an emphasis on underserved communities to see beyond their current situations and expose them to new possibilities in career choice, health, wellness, STEAM and more. We know that girls have the power to change their families, communities and impact the world. The Zandra TLC Foundation promotes quality programming that helps create social and economic change through education and entrepreneurship.

J: What’s the best way to get involved in Day of the Girl? How can the community help?

Z: Show up! Come see the beautiful faces of happy girls that will one day run the world. The community can support our efforts by volunteering, we are feeding 300 girls and their parents. we would love to provide the girls new exciting experiences and also opportunity. If you are connected to a community organization that has the goal to build , support and inspire girls in any way, we would love to invite you to partner. Come set up a community table and let the girls and parents know what you do. If you have items to donate to the girls gift bags, that would be amazing! Lastly, if you know any young girls that need to know that they are amazingly gifted and that there is nothing they can’t do, bring them to the Day Of The Girl Buffalo Summit.

J: I understand that in addition to running your company, you also go to school full-time? It can’t be easy to balance both. How do you stay organized? any advice?

Z: Yes, school is a top priority for me as I look toward college. I attend the most amazing Buffalo Academy of Scholars and because it has a non traditional entrepreneurial focus, I have a lot of flexibility which is perfect. That flexibility allows me to travel for speaking engagements, host workshop and run my business. Oh and I am totally a teen too so, I go to the mall, movies and chill with my friends too. The only difference is I have to schedule everything! If its not scheduled it doesn’t happen. So I would say prioritize based on what is truly important to you and your goals. I break my goals down yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily. I only do things that are inline with my goals and everything else is optional.

J: That’s great advice, that I will certainly use! Congratulations on having your company’s products featured in Buffalo’s new Whole Foods? Are we watching the rise of your brand to the next level?

Z: Yay!!! I know I am so so excited. I am totally leveling up! I have a few very exciting retail partnership on the horizon. Like I have huge plans for all my companies and I will not stop until girls and women across the globe are touched by and have experience the Zandra brand.

J: That is super excited and we are so excited to see what you do next. Can you give us any hints?! What’s next for your company, Zandra?

Z: Growth! I want Zandra to help create real social change in the world. The better Zandra does the more lives we can impact, the more girls we can educate and inspire, which leads to greater communities and families.


A big thank you to Zandra for taking time out of her busy schedule of going to school full-time, being CEO of her own company, and planning her foundation’s largest fundraiser for the year this week. In case you need further proof of Zandra’s amazing ability to inspire, below are the result’s from the 2016 Day of the Girl Event Survey:
97% of girls feel motivated to do well in school.
96% of girls feel engaged in their own learning.
95% of girls feel they are equipped to make healthier choices.
95% of girls say DOTGB helped them plan ahead, make career choices, and feel optimistic about their future.

Looking for more inspiration?! Zandra co-authored the soon to be released book, “KidCEO,” that includes her launch story, as well as other youth entrepreneurs who are looking to change the world.

Day of The Girl Buffalo 2015

 

Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is a WNY native, born and raised in the Lincoln Park area of Tonawanda. She has been involved in local politics from an early age and is currently a Tonawanda Democratic Committee Member. As an avid equestrian and animal-lover, she trained and re-homed over 40 horses. For over a decade, she was an event planner with the law firm, Hodgson Russ LLP, and now owns her own marketing and event management company. She has worked with international and national organizations on large and small scale events. Jessica writes on politics and local events, as well as working with Buffalo Rising as a social reporter.

View All Articles by Jessica Marinelli
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