One Keene State College student has taken on the challenge of creating and running her own nonprofit to inspire high school girls to become entrepreneurs.
Last spring semester, junior and triple major in chemistry, physics and geology with a minor in astronomy, Briae Robillard, without going through the college, created the nonprofit called Project InspiHER, in hopes that she could create confident young women who want to become entrepreneurs or business owners.
“By the time [the girls] are 18-years-old, they already have one business down and if they want to build up on that they can,” Robillard said.
This organization allows high school girls, when they are sophomores to seniors, to learn how to run a business, manage a website, advertise, get customers and use effective customer service, Robillard said.
Project InspiHER is targeted towards schools that have a low graduation rate and students who may not be “good academically,” but who are better with hands-on projects outside of school, explained Robillard.
Robillard said she and her volunteers got into contact with a principal from one school, “We were turned off from that one high school…Just because there wasn’t necessarily a need for [Project InspiHER] and we’re looking for a need and something more local to really make a difference.”
Project InspiHER is currently reaching out to more local businesses and entrepreneurs within Keene, but is closing a deal with a connection in Massachusetts, Robillard said.
Robillard said, “I really want to bring it to the Keene community because this is where I spend most of my time and I want to get other Keene State students involved.”
KSC first year and criminal justice major, Scott Brim, joined Project InspiHER last spring semester when Robillard sent out a Facebook post to the Carle Hall residents page, describing what she was trying to do, what the nonprofit represented and was able to get in contact with her.
On the topic of peer pressure, Brim talked about his high school experiences and said that teenage girls are “at risk” more than teenage boys when it comes to that sort of pressure.
Brim said, “If I can just help one person feel better about themselves, help put them on a track to a better future, you know to me it would be worth it.”
KSC junior Lisa Russo, who is majoring in English with a minor in writing, joined Project InspiHER around the same time Brim did.
Russo said Robillard came into a Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) meeting, which Russo is a part of, last year and inspired Russo to join because she advocates strongly in being “a big sister/brother” to this specific group of girls who need someone to be an “extra support system.”
Russo’s goal is to let these girls know that there is someone out there who wants them to succeed.
Brim and Russo feel that Project InspiHER is, as the name suggests, inspiring and that more Keene State students should seek information about this nonprofit.
“I would definitely encourage anybody to at least ask [Robillard] about [Project InspiHER], to try and get involved if they are interested, have her describe it to them,” Brim said. “I think they would see this as being a noble cause that she is trying to get across.”
To a question about why she created Project InspiHER, Robillard said, “I just really want to teach [entrepreneurship/business] to other people because I just love motivating others to get them excited by pretty much saying, ‘Hey you can do this, you can be a girl-boss.’”
Robillard said by Jan. 2018, she hopes to have Project InspiHER’s website up and running.
Caitlyn Doherty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org