Social-emotional learning, self-esteem, and service are the pillars of the Hance Family Foundation Self-Esteem Rising programs that spread worldwide the legacy of three young girls from Floral Park.
When the foundation started in summer 2009, founders Warren and Jackie Hance funded scholarships to honor their late daughters – Emma, Alyson, and Katie – who died in a car accident at ages 8, 7, and 5, respectively.
“Family is really at the core of everything we try to do,” Warren says. “This foundation was created to honor how our three girls lived.”
Thirteen years later, the foundation’s Self-Esteem Rising programs – Beautiful Me, Raising a Beautiful Child, and Empower Me – have reached more than 130,000 individuals at more than 7,000 schools and facilities around the world, says Kate Tuffy, the foundation’s education director.
After the Hance sisters’ tragic death, many students were grieving the loss of their friends, says Tuffy, who worked at the school the sisters attended in Floral Park. After some time, Tuffy wanted to shift the conversation toward how students could learn a positive lesson from the Hances. So she approached Jackie and Warren with the idea for a foundation program that would teach confidence and volunteerism to young girls.
“That’s what [Emma, Alyson, and Katie] brought to the world,” Tuffy says. “They were exceptionally kind and inclusive; they were the girls that reached out to others.”
During the first session in 2009, Jackie gifted each of the 50 participants necklaces with three heart charms. Years later, the foundation receives photos of young women graduating high school and college wearing the necklaces, which have become a symbol of the program, along with notes about how the program has empowered them in life – lighting a way forward for both themselves and the Hances.
“We have [so many] boxes of notes and testimonials of how effective the programs have been,” Warren says. “It’s humbling to hear what the participants have gotten out of it.”
And recently, the Judge Baker Children’s Center released a study that reaffirms what the foundation has learned anecdotally – that the programs truly help young people feel more confident and make a positive difference in their communities.
In May, the foundation opened a storefront on Tulip Street in Floral Park, where people of all ages and backgrounds can attend Self-Esteem Rising sessions free of charge. The foundation teaches its curriculum to leaders around the globe and welcomes anyone who is interested to reach out to them.
For more information, visit hancefamilyfoundation.org.