B.E.E. Club portrait

Members of the B.E.E. Club take a break from a kickball game to pose for a portrait at Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, Georgia, on Wednesday, June 26.  (Photo/Ryan Cameron rac86114@uga.edu)

The Athens Regional Library System partnered with Becoming Empowered through Education Inc., to host a four-day leadership camp for rising senior girls at Cedar Shoals High School from June 24-27. With the completion of the camp, rising seniors will become mentors for younger female high schoolers beginning in August.

The B.E.E. Club is a non-profit organization that was created to provide a safe and supportive environment for high school girls through personal and professional development by teaching life skills, leadership and communications. The camp was led by 2018 University of Georgia graduates Akilah Blount and Jillyan Gillard. 

Blount, program director, founded the B.E.E. club her senior year at Westlake High School in Atlanta. After attending UGA, she believed there wasn’t a space for youth girls to be the forefront of a mentor program, and decided to bring the club to Cedar Shoals.


Akilah Blount, a 22-year-old employee at the Athens-Clarke County Library, poses for a portrait on Saturday, February 2, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. Blount, a University of Georgia alumni, began the BEE Club at the library, aimed at empowering local teen girls. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

“It’s about empowerment,” Blount said. “We’re teaching them leadership. Not just leading at their schools and community, but also becoming leaders in their own lives.”

Gillard, co-program director, shared a similar sentiment.

“Teen girls are often left out of the discussion,” Gillard said. “Creating a space where youth girls can come collaborate and empower one another through peer mentorship, there’s not too many programs that do that.”

Rising senior DNasia Clink attended the camp after remembering how she felt coming into high school with no one to guide her.

"I get to give them something that I didn’t have in high school," Clink said. "I want them to know that it’s ok to speak to other people about your feelings."

During the four-day camp, about 10 senior girls learned the importance of teamwork, relationship building, and conflict resolution, as well as professional communications training in research and analysis, strategic planning, execution and evaluation, visual design, public speaking and media relations.

"I get to give them something that I didn’t have in high school. I want them to know that it’s ok to speak to other people about your feelings."

-DNasia Clink, rising senior

The program is part of the Trauma Informed Library Transformation (TILT) program, which is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Community Catalyst grant.

The ACC Library was awarded the grant in 2018 to create a partnership with the UGA School of Social Work. The two-year initiative includes the establishment of the after-school peer mentoring group, as well as social work internships at the library, and trauma-informed training for the library staff.

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