CPO Impact Feature- Community Conversations

Q&A with CPO Impact: Women with Voices Toastmasters Club,
a newly funded grant partner for 2018. 

Tell us about the program and how it became a Toastmasters club. 

Women with voices is an all-women Toastmasters club started by and within a community of women living in subsidized housing. The women came together and identified that public speaking was a skill they wanted to build and were tired of attending seminars and workshops that told you how to get better at this. They wanted to actually practice the skill together. Not only does Toastmasters help build public speaking skills, but it also teaches women how to run meetings, ask for a raise, negotiate, prepare for interviews, and it encourages civic engagement. 

What is a Toastmasters club? 

Toastmasters began at a YMCA in California to teach men public speaking skills. Currently, Toastmasters is mainly used by those already in the corporate field to help them advance their careers. The Women with Voices Toastmasters club is the only Toastmasters club of its kind, serving all women living in subsidized housing.  

Who does the program serve and why? 

The program currently serves women living in CPO or CPO-like subsidized housing. Currently, 95% if people living in CPO housing are female head of households. It is so important that the program creates a space for women to come together and support one another, to lift each other up, and empower each other to do more, that there are no limits to what they can accomplish. If we want to tell their story, we want them to be the ones to do it. 

What is the impact of the program? Both short term and long-term vision. 

Short term, this program will teach participants the skills to give a speech, an elevator pitch in an interview, run meetings, give presentations, and the ability to tell their own stories. Long term, this program will create economic stability as the women will gain skills to have successful job interviews, negotiations, and advance in their careers.  

What outcomes have you seen so far? 

The number of people attending and speaking at civic association meetings in the area where the program is has gone up, many women in the program credit their upward mobility in their careers to the skills they’ve learned at Toastmasters. A woman in the program who attends Columbus State told us, “Toastmasters gave me the ability to speak up in class and share my views.” 

What are your hopes and goals for the end of the year? 

We want to see the women in the program running the meetings 100% themselves. We want women to have higher employment and education as a result of participating in the program and would love to work with their children on communication skills to continue building this skill set to support one another and themselves.


To learn more about CPO Impact, visit their website cpoimpact.org