Four simple words of encouragement – Mija, Yes You Can. With just those four words, local newscaster Iris Lopez was inspired to try to help other women in the community.
“Growing up, mija, was something my mom, my aunts, my grandmas would always call me and one thing my parents instilled in me was no matter how crazy your dream is – you can do it,” said Lopez.
As an adult, working in the male-dominated world of TV news, Lopez came across those four words again in an image sent to her by a co-worker. She felt those simple words, “Mija, Yes You Can,” resonated with her so much that they should be shared with others to inspire and empower women of all ages, races and backgrounds.
After creating a Facebook group, then selling T-shirts to spread her message of encouragement, Lopez decided the funds she raised should be put to good use and decided to form a nonprofit. But starting a nonprofit isn’t easy, much less during a global pandemic. That’s where the help of Paso del Norte Community Foundation came in.
“I’ve only volunteered for nonprofits, I didn’t know how to run a nonprofit,” said Lopez. “Mica Short was amazing, she gave us websites, she helped us get the nonprofit started on our own and followed the project. When Paso del Norte Community Foundation was able to accept more nonprofits she reached out. She didn’t give up on us, she believed in us. We started a week before Giving Day and we doubled, almost tripled our goal. It was nice to see that the community and Paso del Norte Community Foundation had trust in us.”
With those funds and funds raised through Mija, Yes You Can t-shirt sales and other fundraisers, Lopez and her fellow “Mijas” hope to spread the message of female empowerment through scholarships, workshops and other events.
“We want to be able to give back to our community and bring all women together, heighten their aspirations and empower them to achieve that,” said Crystal Saavedra, President. “We want to give scholarships – not just to go to college or trade school – but to STEM camps, a summer camp, music, or if there’s any Mijas out there who put their education on hold and now are looking to go back to school.”
While the pandemic has put some of those plans on hold, Mija, Yes You Can will continue, not only to inspire women to accomplish their goals, but to inspire women to encourage other women. The Paso del Norte Community Foundation is pleased to provide the administrative and compliance expertise for Mija, Yes You Can to turn their vision into a reality and help the Mijas achieve their audacious philanthropic goals, in true Mija-fashion.
“It’s turned into a movement that is growing from where I started – it’s exploded,” said Lopez. “People outside of TV news, teachers love the project, single moms, businesswomen. Everyone, all women – no matter their age, race, professional background – are able to bond through this simple phrase.”
For more information, go to mijayesyoucan.org and to donate to the Mija, Yes You Can Fund, visit pdnfoundation.org/give-to-a-fund/mija-yes-you-can-fund.