RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s described as a sisterhood — a sisterhood at that Zanaziah Jones, Nailah Daley and Mackenzie Fennell were initially nervous to join.
“For me, Coach Cooper was outside of our cafeteria. From the first interaction you could tell she was somebody that you wanted to know what she had going on,” said Fennell.
She’s referring to Tatiana Cooper. Cooper is the founder and president of the non-profit organization Saving Adolescent Girls Everywhere, also known as SAGE.
“It’s community, and that’s the most important thing. So much love, but more importantly we are authentic,” Cooper said.
The organization focuses on mentoring teenage girls.
“We focus on professional development, academic success and we focus on social awareness,” Cooper explained. “So we do have a lot of facilitators come in and show them different opportunities they’ve never explored.”
Cooper started SAGE in 2018 while living in Baltimore, Maryland.
“Growing up in Chicago I didn’t have a lot of representation that looked like me,” she stated.
She said she quit her job as an engineer to work with young people.
Eventually she expanded the organization to Raleigh in 2021 after moving to the area.
“We have a waiting list of over 100 girls. Post pandemic, it’s really hard to get these girls off their phones and reconnect with society,” Cooper said.
In order to help reach more teen girls, SAGE is planning its first-ever gala.
“The gala is definitely a fundraiser to support our programming needs such as scholarships, being able to travel,” Cooper explained. “We do want to implement a lot of college tours.”
“I’ve definitely come out of my shell since I’ve joined SAGE. It has been really fun and great,” said Zanaziah Jones, who recently became a member. “I just feel like a new me.”
The gala will take place Saturday, November 18th at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.