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Charlene Tarver is the Founder and CEO of The Women's Economic Institute, Inc. The WEI's key mission is economic sustainability and income security...
Charlene is an author, professor, non-profit executive, and former practicing attorney turned public policy advocate, and most recently an emerging land developer.
"Economic sustainability is rooted in jobs and housing. Did you know the fastest growing homeless segment in this country is Black women (40+) and families with small children? We can change that." Charlene Tarver
In 2015 Tarver Founded the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (Phoenix Metropolitan Chapter); 2017 she launched The Women’s Economic Institute; March 2020 she convened the Black AZ COVID-19 Task Force on the precipice of a newly burgeoning global pandemic; and in 2021 she launched the CNY Black Women's EXpo. In 2021 Tarver also acquired 1.3 acres of commercial land from the Greater Syracuse Land Bank and commenced an urban revitalization project in her hometown of Syracuse, NY. In a word, Tarver is a rainmaker (a person whose influence can initiate progress or ensure success) and her mission, simply put, is to ensure women, girls and communities of color have access to critical information, resources, capital, and opportunity in order to drive income security and economic sustainability.
With 20+ years’ experience in business law, contracts and tax planning, Tarver is an entrepreneur, influencer, policy advocate, and innovator experienced in government, private, and community collaboratives. Tarver 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 taught intellectual property at Summit School of Law, served as adjunct faculty in the Business Program at Maricopa Community Colleges, and served as a board member of the Phoenix Industrial Development Authority's board, 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 holds an LL.M. in Taxation and a Certificate in Employee Benefits Law (CEBS) from Georgetown Law; a Juris Doctorate from the University at Buffalo School of Law; and a BA in Sociology from New York University. She is the proud mother of identical twin girls and speaks frequently on the topics of women and wealth, pay equity, and urban economic development.
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 one year-long and one six-month long mentoring program providing personal and leadership development training to cultivate, inspire, and empower BIPOC women entrepreneurs and girls ages 14-24. The WEI also provides technical assistance and office sublet arrangements for women entrepreneurs.
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.
The Young Women's Mentoring Initiative (YWMI) provides monthly workshops, peer-to-peer and formal mentoring, an annual women’s leadership summit, targeted professional networking, and support in board placement. YWMI 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 BIPOC Women's Small Business Development Incubator and Roundtable provides an interactive forum where women entrepreneurs of color work together to create synergy. Through collaborative classroom-based programming women entrepreneurs learn best industry practices, business and financial planning, and marketing strategies. A 12 month program designed to help women owned businesses expand their networks and seek resources and information critical in developing their business products and services.