It started as a required project. But then, it became something that a pair of Pittsburgh women wanted to build on and grow.
Ashley Baptiste, 27, of Clinton and Ashley Hayward, 29, of Pittsburgh were part of a group in Coro Pittsburgh’s Women in Leadership — a training and networking program for those who want to improve the lives of women — who created “Strong Ladies, Advance Your Year,” or SLAYY for short.
SLAYY offered a pop-up shop event in November as a way for single mothers to find needed resources and access them in one place, while there were activities for their kids to do. Plus, it was a way to build a network free of stigmas.
After the event and the leadership program were over, Baptiste and Hayward didn’t want to stop.
“This is amazing. Let’s build on it,” Baptiste said.
So the pair are still working to expand SLAYY’s reach and to collaborate with existing organizations, as well as to add a smartphone app that will connect single moms to each other.
Empowerment from the start
Going into the Women in Leadership program, Baptiste said she wanted to find a way to unite women to socialize and build each other up.
“I wanted to do something with empowerment,” she said.
Hayward said she wanted to work with single moms, adding that she was raised by a single mom for most of her childhood into her early teens and watched her mom struggle with jobs. Hayward said her mom had a great support system of friends to help, but not every single mom has that network.
The two women were in a group that created this:
They partnered with area organizations to provide community college, wellness, financial and legal resources. Plus, there were kids’ activities. Attendees were excited to be there and there was a feeling of “we can make this happen,” Baptiste said.
It was both refreshing and gratifying to see the idea come to life, too, the women said.
After the pop-up event was over, the leadership program didn’t require the women to continue with SLAYY.
But Baptiste and Hayward wanted to continue.
“I love SLAYY,” Baptiste said. She said SLAYY creates a support system where single moms can unit and say, “I’m a part of SLAYY, and you’re a part of this, [too].”
It was after conversations with single moms at the pop-up event, that the duo thought of adding a smartphone app. The app would have resources, but it would also be a way for moms to connect with each other and organize playdates or meet for coffee. It would be exclusive to single moms and get right down to what they need, Baptiste said.
“If you have children, you have a charged phone,” she said.
The app idea is still in its early stages. The pair applied to UpPrize, an innovation challenge to create solutions for problems in the community, but didn’t advance to the semi-finals.
Baptiste said they plan to look for developers and/or students who could create the app starting in January.
And they plan to keep applying for grants, as well as attend workshops by the Forbes Funds, which works with local nonprofits, and work with the network they’ve created through the Coro Leadership program.
Baptiste and Hayward added they are grateful for the leadership program that brought them together. It was a way to meet likeminded women and to discuss ideas, Hayward said, adding that without Coro and the program, SLAYY wouldn’t exist.
It’s an idea that will help improve the lives of others, they said.
“No one wants to struggle,” Baptiste said.