Charlene Tarver is the founder and executive director of the Women’s Economic Institute, Inc., and convener of the Black AZ COVID-19 Task Force. Tarver has extensive experience in strategic planning, public policy, and project development. She brings a diverse background in working with governmental, non-profit and legal entities, women’s organizations, and communities of color— uniquely positioning her to conduct community and economic development. Tarver has also led campaigns for South Phoenix Healthy Start (focused on infant and maternal mortality), Oakland 2000 Ready to Learn (the mayor’s initiative on early childhood development), and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
With 20+ years’ experience in business law, contracts, and tax planning Tarver formed government, private, and community collaboratives and held CDBG and federal contracts with two major metropolitan cities to drive local small business development, job growth and job creation for small to mid-size companies. She is adjunct faculty in the Business program at Maricopa Community Colleges and a board member of the Phoenix Industrial Development Authorities, which works to identify national and global bond financing opportunities, while driving economic growth through their First Time Home Buyer Program, micro-lending, and community re-investment initiatives.
Tarver is also Founding President and CEO of the Phoenix Metropolitan Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., where from 2015 to 2019 she led the chapter’s strategic initiatives in health, education, economic development, and civic engagement. She is credited with establishing the organization’s infrastructure, programming, and corporate partnerships w/ Arizona State University, Equality Health, Microsoft, Arizona Community Foundation, and Wells Fargo.
Tarver holds a Legal Masters (LL.M.) in Taxation and a Certificate in Employee Benefits Law (CEBS) from Georgetown University Law Center; a Juris Doctorate from the University at Buffalo School of Law; and a Bachelors in Sociology from New York University.
From barriers in education to a gender based pay gap that widens with race, women of color are significantly underrepresented in America's economic landscape. That reality has become even more apparent with the onset of COVID-19.
In addition to being amongst the nation's most educated, Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, starting businesses at six times the national average, with many earning less than $28,000 annually.
“While it is true that educational advancement provides an important pathway to opportunity in America, it is also critical to understand that wage differentials amongst African American women persist across every level of education. In other words, education is not a conduit to fair pay.” Nor is it a conduit to equal access to capital or opportunity for women entrepreneurs. -The Black Women’s Roundtable 2015 Report
In addition to policy, advocacy, and technical assistance the WEI offers two six-month long mentoring programs providing personal and leadership development training to cultivate, inspire, and empower young women and girls ages 14-24, and technical assistance and business development for women entrepreneurs of color ages 20-40.
To learn more about our small business incubator program or the Young Professional Black Women's Mentoring Initiative click the link below.
Women and girls (especially women and girls of color) live at or below the national poverty level, are less likely to escape the poverty their born into, and are severely underrepresented in C-suite and executive level positions; often lacking the mentoring, leadership, and professional development critical to advancing their career and entrepreneurial endeavors.
According to reports from the Brookings Institute, Equal Pay Today, the National Partnership for Women and Families, and the National Women’s Law Center:
A. A Black woman high school graduate fails to earn as much as a white male dropout with a 9th grade education or less ($30,450 vs. $32,675).
B. Black women w/ Bachelor’s degrees earn about $10,000 less than White men with an Associate’s degree ($49,882 vs. $59,014).
C. It would take nearly two Black women college graduates to earn what the average White male college graduate earns by himself ($55,804 vs. $100,620).
D. More than 4 million family households in the US are headed by Black women. And 35% of all family households headed by Black women live below the poverty level. This means that more than 1.4 million households headed by Black women live in poverty.
The lack of accessibility to viable career pathways economically stunts minority communities, leaving professional Black women trailing their white male and female counterparts at alarming rates, despite their educational attainment. Wage differentials and career inequities also result in increased unemployment, underemployment, employment at poverty level wages, and wealth inequality; fostering a cycle of multi-generational concentrated poverty and limited access to home ownership, quality healthcare, and healthy families—all of which make for strong healthy neighborhoods..
At The WEI we believe women have better opportunities for economic equity and wealth equality when they pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors, create jobs, gain better financial management skill, and build stronger networks.
At the WEI we confront systemic racism, poverty, and racial inequality through policy, technical assistance, and programs focused on economic equity, job readiness, educational achievement, and entrepreneurism—positioning women and girls of color for long term success by improving their dignity, economic opportunity, and overall quality of life.
According to Black Enterprise, Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the nation, starting businesses at six times the national average. However access to capital, influential networks, mentoring and ancillary business, legal, and financial services are daunting challenges facing Black women entrepreneurs. The WEI is designed to encourage policy and a solutions-based approach to economic development training for women professionals and entrepreneurs of color.
Our 2021/2022 programming will:
1) Provide an environment for quality learning, leadership, and career development;
2) Identify and develop internship pathways that connect mentees to opportunities to build employable skills;
3) Provide participants with self-development reading materials;
4) Conduct emotional intelligence-based programming for women ages 14-40;
5) Conduct conversational intelligence-based programming for women ages 14-40;
6) Conduct quarterly salary negotiation trainings;
7) Conduct individual personality and emotional assessments (i.e., DISK and Passion);
8) Conduct a community presentation of graduates for sponsor recognition, project branding and community engagement. (Target 100+);
9) Host a leadership summit for women of color (Target 100+);
10) Host a Black Women’s Equal Pay Forum; and
11) Participate in the Congressional Black Caucus; providing mentees an opportunity to take a deeper dive on national and global policy issues impacting low-income and marginalized communities of color.
Mentoring and training initiatives (for ages 14-40) advance our mission and vision to create pay equity, opportunity, and economic sustainability for all women and girls while skillfully addressing the race and gender income gap through job training/readiness, improved interpersonal communication skills, internships, and identifiable pathways to entrepreneurism through professional development, technical assistance, and strategic alliances.
Black Women's Equal Pay Day is the number of days Black women must work into the new year in order to earn what their white, non-Hispanic, male colleagues earned last year. In 2018 Black women had to work eight months into 2018 (August 7, 2018) to have pay equity. See the 2018 Forum video below.
The Mentoring Initiative (MI) provides monthly workshops, peer-to-peer and formal mentoring, an annual women’s leadership summit, targeted professional networking, and support in board placement. MI offers a roadmap to viable employment, higher income earning potential, a sense of inclusion and visibility, and mentoring opportunities that broaden the spheres of influence and affluence of young professional women of color ages 20 to 40.
Youth workforce readiness and academic achievement is best accomplished through programming focused in self development, emotional intelligence, conversational intelligence, and college preparedness.
The Entrepreneur's Incubator and Roundtable is an interactive forum where women entrepreneurs of color work together to create synergy. Through collaborative classroom-based programming women entrepreneurs learn and discuss best practices, expand their networks, and seek resources and information critical in developing their business products and services.