Getting girls to college

A traveling childhood gave Charmaine Clay a look at living conditions across the country. Now, she’s giving back to help girls from disadvantaged backgrounds develop resilience – and make it to college.

Fidelity Charitable donor Charmaine Clay holds a sign stating, “STRONG.” Her mentee, Jennifer Urdaneta, holds a sign stating, “BOLD.” They’re in front of a backdrop that says “girls inc.”

Fidelity Charitable donor Charmaine Clay, left, and her mentee, Jennifer Urdaneta, at a luncheon for Girls Inc. of Alameda County. The two met through the nonprofit’s mentoring event.

When Fidelity Charitable donor Charmaine Clay was a child, her father’s career as a hospital administrator meant the family moved often – and showed Clay difficult living conditions around the country. Many of her childhood friends had to cope with poverty, often lacking support and mentorship for their educational success.

“I was fortunate to live in a family where both parents were inspired by education, but I still had to learn how to be resilient,” says Clay. “It’s important that we start at an early age to help girls from disadvantaged backgrounds make progress.”

Now retired from a long and diverse career with Wells Fargo, Clay chooses to give to and volunteer with Girls Inc. of Alameda County, a local affiliate of the national nonprofit dedicated to helping girls ages 6 to 18 from low-income households to realize their potential. The program boasts impressive completion rates: In 2019, all high school seniors in their College Access Now program enrolled in college. Most were the first in their families to do so.

“I’m passionate about helping people in my own community,” Clay says. “I’ve always felt that it’s important to give of your own good fortune to help others follow in your footsteps."

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