Royal Girls Program
Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries – Charlottesville, Va.
- Emerging Leader: Sonia Montalvo
- Grant Program: Emerging Leader
- Amount of Grant: $15,000
- Dates of Grant Term: February 2019 – February 2021
Sonia Montalvo has served as the Young Ladies’ Program Coordinator at Abundant Life Ministries, Charlottesville, Va., since 2018. In this role she works alongside 15 girls in the community to provide services for their academic, spiritual, and social growth. Montalvo attended Elizabeth City State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications studies. During her junior year, she interned with City of Promise, a community development nonprofit in Charlottesville; and then returned following her graduation to serve as a youth supervisor. Montalvo’s passion for serving youth continued to grow and she joined Teach For America Houston Corps (TFA). However, her work with TFA was cut short following the effects of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Montalvo returned to Charlottesville and before joining Abundant Life Ministries, she worked in the Charlottesville city schools as an interventionist and piloted a program for African American and Latinx Middle School girls to explore creative writing.
Abundant Life Ministries’ “Royal Girls Program” is an initiative that helps to foster spiritual, social, and academic development among residents in Prospect, an underserved neighborhood in Charlottesville, Va. The Royal Girls Program provides a safe space for 15 middle school girls to maintain positive self-images, grow deeper in their faith, and navigate any trauma they may have experienced. By integrating creative arts, weekly bible study, and life skills training, the program provides a holistic learning experience for participants. Royal Girls walks alongside these ambitious and resilient girls and strives to push positive narratives that will encourage and uplift them as they mature into young women. As participants become more equipped to overcome life’s obstacles, the work of Royal Girls is also helping to mitigate the range of academic and social disparities that continue to exist in Charlottesville along racial lines.