Embrace Her Legacy Academy: National Institute for High-School Girls



Our National Institute 2023 is no longer accepting applications. Please return to this page in early 2024 to apply for our next cohort.

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Our Embrace Her Legacy Academy is a virtual social-emotional, personal development and leadership development program offered to young women ages 14-19. The institute is targeted to girls who demonstrate strong leadership and academic ability. With small cohorts of 10-15 students, we equip these young women with the tools needed to achieve success in self-confidence, personal development, career, education and leadership. We’re currently accepting applications from young women nationwide!

The Embrace Her Legacy Academy educates young women to learn how to use strategies for personal self-acceptance to overcome a lack of confidence, examine negative thought-patterns, embrace authenticity and relinquish perfectionism in order to elevate self-esteem to maximize education and professional opportunities. 

Our goal is to ignite a powerful and emotionally healthy relationship with self while using that as the foundation to realize personal and professional goals. Because of our intimate group size, each student gets the individualized attention that she deserves in a psychologically safe space.


We will focus on the elevation and transformation of:

  • Your self-image
  • Your confidence
  • Your purpose and personal mission 
  • Your ability to think positively 
  • Your relationship with yourself and others
  • Your education, career and lifestyle goals 
  • Your ability to confidently talk about your strengths 
  • Your decision-making, leadership and negotiation skills 

​Our curriculum is an intensive series of personal development and leadership development classes virtually offered over 2-weeks every summer as summer enrichment program or 10-weeks in the Fall as virtual after-school program. The program also offers students the opportunity to enhance their professional networks by connecting students to industry leaders who will serve as guest instructors for select classes.

Students will get to learn how to say “good-bye” to living with fear, not feeling good enough, or dealing with negative people in your life who don’t understand you. The program has been almost unanimously voted as a “life-changing experience” from program graduates. ​Our goal is for every girl to learn to defeat her “inner saboteur” and live out a purpose-driven legacy. 

Got questions? Contact us at hello@embraceherlegacy.com



By understanding the importance of having an affirming environment for cultivating a healthy self-esteem for girls, Embrace Her Legacy intentionally exposes our students to positive role-models who are industry leaders throughout the program who serve as guest instructors providing inspiration, insight and mentorship opportunities. For example, some former guest speakers who have participated in our programming include education guru and Black Girls Rock Change Agent Award recipient Dr. Nadia Lopez, and nationally renowned financial-literacy expert, Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche.

All students in our program also gain the opportunity to be personally mentored by our founder and lead instructor of our programs, Maria I. Melendez.

1 in 4 female students report that their greatest challenges in attending college are confidence, motivation, or support.
Therefore, Ms. Maria makes herself available to help students through the college and career readiness process along with personal development coaching. She has dedicated her life to personally mentoring young women in need of support and guidance. ​Students with a mentor are: 130% more likely to hold leadership positions + 55% more likely to enroll in college.




Our environment is one of sisterhood dedicated to giving young women the opportunity to connect. We have a proven track record of instilling confidence in young women during the challenging teenage years where parents may be encountering distance from teens.

Low self-esteem in teenage girls is a problem. 7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way (including their looks, performance in school, and relationships with friends and family members).

The challenges in self-esteem grow significantly during teenage years for girls especially. This gender gap, forming in adolescence, occurs as boys tend to have higher self-esteem than girls since girls are more vulnerable to the exposure of ongoing and digitally enhanced “beauty standard” messages that are proliferated throughout the media.

Social media has also influence self-esteem in teenage girls tremendously. The number of teenage girls out of 100,000 admitted to a hospital for self-inflicted harm was 62% for older teen girls and 189% for preteens girls since 2011. Suicide is up 70% for older teen girls and 151% for pre-teen girls since 2011. These patterns point to the rise of social media influencing Generation Z. (Social Dilemma documentary, 2020) 

Furthermore, if a girl has experienced being raised in a critical environment, been verbally or physically abused, ignored, or teased, met with unrealistic expectations of constant perfectionism or has been considered unattractive by peers then it is more than likely that she will suffer from low self-esteem.

Once the low self-esteem exists, subsequent behaviors that can occur are depression, anxiety, anger, hostility, self-deprecation, negative or low expectations, risk-taking, substance use, avoidance and distrust in relationships, low expectations, and fear of change.

In our current climate, it’s more important than ever to assure that there are tools, resources, positive role-models, programs and content to aid with the overwhelming demand to build and protect the overall self-esteem and mental/emotional health of young women of color.

Embrace Her Legacy helps solve this problem through our workshops, programming and coaching for high-potential young women, with an emphasis on serving young women of color. Embrace Her Legacy is committed to increasing self-confidence, social-emotional development and self-worth before anything else, while always striving to achieve confident leadership ability and emotional intelligence for millennial women and Gen Z girls. 

Students Get To: 

  • Build confidence and healthy self-esteem
  • Identify and manage your “inner saboteur” (negative emotions) 
  • Learn how to set healthy boundaries in your relationships 
  • Learn how to design and build your best life
  • Identify internal struggles and negative self-talk to increase emotional strength
  • Qualify to receive our college scholarship (only available for legends who complete our program) 
  • Build on their worthiness, validation, and self-acceptance
  • Overcome perfectionism and embrace authenticity and vulnerability
  • Identify the internal fears and mental roadblocks that stand in the way of you and your desired career and education goals
  • Meet with girls who are motivated and driven like you
  • Meet women and men who’ve been through what you’re going through and can help you get where you want to go
  • Receive recommendation letters for college applications, internships & career opportunities
  • Serve as an Embrace Her Legacy ambassador of our organization at your school 
  • Gain the opportunity to participate in local, national and international program initiatives 
  • Qualify for an internship with Embrace Her Legacy 
  • Gain access to professional mentorship by our founder and other industry leaders in our network.
  • Learn financial success tips 
  • Learn time-management techniques 
  • Master negotiation strategies: We teach you how to negotiate like a boss 
  • Career development secrets
  • Effective goal-setting practices


We use written assignments, lectures, journaling, affirmations, experiential learning, storytelling, and coaching techniques to empower, educate, and equip students. Each session will conclude with custom action-steps for students to actively engage in their overall personal development throughout the course. ​





Our program surveys indicate that:

  • 85% of our students report an increase of emotional/mental wellness and 75% report being better able to manage negative emotions.
  • 100% report improved academic skills. The benefit here is that more young women can achieve academic and educational goals
  • 88% report increase in overall self-confidence. This indicates that young women who complete our program are  more likely to become productive citizens, take on leadership roles and achieve their lifestyle, education and career goals. Our program is one to cultivate a generation of whole, educated and purpose-driven leaders in our communities.



The Embrace Her Legacy Collective is our community of successful, legacy-driven women and men who have donated their time to volunteer and serve as inspirational role models for the young women of Embrace Her Legacy. These women and men take part in our Embrace Her Legacy Academy as volunteer guest speakers. They are industry experts in their respective careers and take the time to speak with our students on topics varying from financial literacy, beauty, confidence, leadership, and more. These women and men serve as positive representations for our young women to see people who look like them succeeding in different careers and embracing their legacy. These are OUR Legacy Makers!


  • I Am Enough! Break Up With Your Inner Saboteur – Focuses on establishing a healthy relationship with yourself, embracing vulnerability and authenticity while relinquishing perfectionism, elevating your confidence, and overcoming negative self-talk by identifying your inner self-sabotaging voice. 
  • Win the Battle in Your Mind: Dismantling Fear, Anxiety and The Strong “Black Woman” Stereotype – Students learn how to identify dominate negative thought patterns and implementation of positive thought-therapy and affirmations. Part 2: A workshop discussing the stereotype of the “strong Black woman” in social norms, unlearning behaviors of misconceived “strength”, and how that influences how we show up in our emotional wellness and living our legacy, 
  • Slaying My Goals (Vision Board MastHERclass) + Steps to Starting a Business – Students will learn our “goals framework” and engage in proven strategies to effectively define, set, and achieve personal and professional goals. Followed by a workshop on the initial steps to building a business. 
  • Squad Goals: Developing PowHERful Relationships and Embracing the Power of Forgiveness – Students will learn about developing meaningful personal and professional relationships, establish healthy boundaries, networking skills, and how to identify signs of toxic relationships and the power of forgiveness and how it brings freedom. 
  • Annual “Embrace Her Legacy” Panel Discussion – A panel discussion and networking workshop with several esteemed professional women on success, career, personal mission, and confidence.
  • Keeping it REEL: Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with Social Media + Building Your Brand Online  – Students learn how to embrace healthy self-esteem while dealing with the pressures of social media and cyberbullying while learning the dos and don’ts of using social media, including personal branding strategies and building your YouTube page. 
  • Financial Literacy 101: Getting Your Money Right + The Legendary Panel – Our financial literacy course discussing credit, debt, savings, earnings, student loans and more. Followed by a panel of previous Embrace Her Legacy Academy legends. 
  • Negotiate Like a Boss + Build Your Resume Like a Boss Workshop – Students learn graduate level negotiation skills, followed by a resume building workshop. 
  • Laws of Becoming a Fierce Leader –  Strategic leadership principles for students to learn how to lead their lives, organizations, and teams.
  • Girl Boss 101: Becoming the CEO of Your Life & Career – Students learn how to become the CEO’s of their careers and lives as we share some common mistakes in career development. 

*Classes subject to change.


  • Session 1: Mon. July 10th  – 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 2: Tues. July 11th – 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 3: Wed. July 12th – 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 4: Thurs. July 13th– 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 5: Fri. July 14th – 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 6: Mon. July 17th – 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 7: Tues. July 18th – 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 8: Wed. July 19th – 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 9: Thurs. July 20th– 11am – 2:30pm EST
  • Session 10: Fri. July 21st – 11am – 2:30pm EST


Individual tuition fee for each student to participate in the program: $397*
*Full and Partial need-based and merit-based scholarships available*


We will reopen applications for our next cohort in early 2024. 


Virtual via our Zoom classroom.  


The total program tuition cost is $397. Full-ride and partial scholarships are available on a first-come, first-serve basis to aid with program tuition costs. Students will have to submit a short essay and a copy of the latest report card to qualify for a scholarship. It is highly recommended for students interested in applying for scholarships to aid with program tuition costs to apply sooner than later. Program tuition scholarships are both need-based and merit based. 


We’re looking for young women (ages 14-19) who possess the following criteria to apply for the program:

  • Strong academic GPA
  • Possesses leadership qualities and potential
  • Demonstrated communication skills
  • Success and career-driven
  • Passionate about empowering women and girls/gender-equity 
  • Involved in academic or social organizations
  • Previous leadership or teamwork experience a plus
  • Ability to work well with others
  • Goal-oriented
  • Self-motivated
  • Positive attitude


In order to be considered for the program, all interested applicants must complete the application form below. (You can start and resume the application at your convenience). Once the applicant submits her application, one of our dream team members will reach out via email to applicants to schedule a virtual interview. 

Following the virtual interview, a final decision of the applicant’s status will be made and she will be notified via email whether she has been accepted to the program. Once accepted into the program, the applicant has (14) days from the date of receiving their acceptance letter to provide her tuition payment and the signed parent/guardian consent form in order to secure her spot in the program. The tuition invoice will be sent via email and can be paid via debit/credit card or check written out to The Embrace Her Legacy Foundation Inc. 

All accepted applicants, MUST submit our signed Parent/Guardian consent form upon acceptance into the program (unless 18 years or older). The form will be attached to the acceptance email.


Once your tuition payment is remitted, your tuition is non-refundable and non-transferable. We highly encourage students to apply as soon as possible as acceptances are on a first-come, first-serve basis. 


Applications for our National Summer Institute 2023 are now closed!