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Ulta Mentoring Program Empowers CIS Girls Group

Think back to when you were in middle school, navigating the trials and tribulations of adolescence.

Did you have a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult? Someone you could turn to in the school building when you needed support? Did you have a space where you could explore life beyond graduation? A person or experience that broadened your horizons and motivated you to keep learning?

Positive relationships and college/career readiness are two of the five basic principles that our team at Communities In Schools (CIS) of Chicago believes are difference-makers for young people; and thanks to partners like Ulta Beauty, our team is able to amplify our efforts to create major impact for Chicago youth.

At one CIS partner school on the West Side, CIS Student Supports Manager Latonya Booker facilitates a middle school girls’ group called “Just Us Gurlz.” Each week, the group members discuss strategies for growing their self-confidence – and ways they can lean on each other and Ms. Booker for support.

When Ulta Beauty was interested in providing a girls-empowerment and mentoring program for CIS students, our team knew Ms. Booker’s girls’ group was the perfect fit. Here’s a look at the three-part Ulta Beauty experience and its lasting impact.


In the first session, Ulta’s team visited Ms. Booker’s classroom to meet with the middle schoolers. They spent time getting to know the girls so they could lay the groundwork for developing positive relationships that are fundamental to Communities In Schools’ model.

Students took turns reflecting on what self-care means to them and how cultural norms and the media impact their perceptions. Then, Ulta volunteers shared their insights and advice on how to prioritize self-care as one way to develop self-confidence. Students also learned about how each Ulta team member got where they are today and were able to ask questions about what it’s like to work at Ulta, sparking excitement about second session.

Students sit in circle with Ulta team


In the second session, Ulta’s team focused on career development and professional pathways in the retail and beauty industry. First, in a larger group, students were asked to think about retail jobs that come to mind when they visit a store. The Ulta team then shared other jobs that aren’t top-of-mind but are just as important to success in retail businesses.

Ulta’s team members then met with students in small groups to share their own career journeys – the jobs they held before Ulta, career setbacks they experienced along the way, and what they enjoy most about their current roles. Students were asked to think about their career aspirations and share their hopes for their future. One volunteer sharing her career journey was an alum of the school, and the girls loved meeting an Ulta team member they could connect with personally.

The session closed with the Ulta team sharing product samples made by Black beauty founders. The students really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about brands and test products.

Students and Ulta team members smile


The program culminated with a field trip to an Ulta Beauty store. Students were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the store and learned more about how Ulta creates an empowering experience for everyone that walks through the store doors.

The visit concluded with a guided shopping experience with an Ulta team member to look at and learn more about products they were interested in.

According to the Ulta team, “positive well-being unleashes possibilities,” and Communities In Schools of Chicago was thrilled to partner with them in empowering our students to succeed in school and in life.

Students visit Ulta store



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