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Five Women Who Represent Five Promises

America's Promise Alliance

At America’s Promise Alliance, a big part of our work involves advocating for the five promises that we believe help children and youth achieve adult success: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to serve others.

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships team at America’s Promise decided to celebrate prominent women in history who embody each of these promises. While there are many more who could have made the list, here are five women we think of when we think of the Five Promises.

Caring Adults: Alma J. Powell

Alma Powell

Mrs. Powell, the board chair of America’s Promise, is the ultimate caring adult. Through her leadership, Mrs. Powell ensures our alliance continues working to provide all five promises to every child.

Safe Places: Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells-Barnett fought back against racial discrimination by writing articles about lynching and other injustices under the name “Iola.” Along with writing a pamphlet about the exclusion of African Americans from meaningful roles at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, she also started women’s clubs, founded the Negro Fellowship League, and became involved in the suffrage movement.

A Healthy Start: Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright-Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman founded the Children's Defense Fund (CDF). Their Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

Effective Education: Annie Mansfield Sullivan Macy

Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller

Annie Mansfield Sullivan Macy was the outstanding teacher of Helen Keller. She is sometimes overlooked, as people only remember the student and think nothing of her amazing teacher. Just as Helen Keller overcame amazing challenges to learning, Annie Sullivan overcame amazing challenges to teaching.

Opportunities to Help Others: Wendy Spencer

Wendy Spencer

Wendy Spencer is the former CEO (2012-2018) of the Corporation for National and Community Service. While there, she administered AmeriCorps and other programs to engage millions of Americans in national service. She launched new partnerships and created the annual Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service, where 2,786 mayors and county officials express gratitude to and need for national service volunteers.

Learn more the Five Promises here. For a list of other historical figures important to the work of America’s Promise, check out Youth in the Civil Rights Movement.


Editor’s Note: Updated March 2018