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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Jenni Luke, Marshall '94

Stepping Up. Ever since college, Jenni Luke has had a love for social justice and giving back. After earning her J.D. from the University of Colorado, she discovered that law wasn't for her. Now Luke serves as the CEO of Step Up Women's Network, an organization dedicated to connecting professional women with underserved teen girls through constructive afterschool programs ranging from mentorship and confidence-building to college-prep and paid internships.

Since joining in 2009, she has helped the organization garner over 50,000 supporters in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago by partnering with schools where 80 percent of the students take part in the federal free-lunch program.

"When we met [one of our scholarship winners] as a freshman in 2007, she was in a gang, regularly skipping school and was carrying a weapon. Now she's valedictorian, graduating top of her class with a full scholarship," says Luke, who is frequently asked when she is going to bring Step Up to more cities.

Fortunately, this should happen soon. Step Up is looking to continue its growth across the country, by expanding programs in new cities and forming partnerships with more schools.

"Our first class of graduating seniors was in 2010, and 100 percent graduated high school and were accepted into college," says Luke. "It's a young program, we're really looking to grow and that's our biggest challenge—making sure our model is impactful but also sustainable for the long term."