With Robbie Butler
“Speak Up, Speak Out, & Ask… Yes, You Can!”
Here’s the word from Ms. Robbie Butler: “Dear Ms. Single Mom: Yes, You Can!”
Robbie currently resides in Long Beach, CA and serves as a Commissioner on the Long Beach Equity and Human Relations Commission. She is an avid Lakers basketball fan and loves to rock Kareem’s #33 jersey on game-days because the purple and gold team is her favorite.
Robbie was a teenage single mom, and her foundation’s work offers what many other single moms are missing along their journey. “When I was younger,” she recalls, “we had a village to help with raising our children. No matter what your situation was, young girls had grandmothers and Aunties and plenty of other folks who really did care, who had wisdom, and were there to provide guidance and direction for you and your baby. Now, we’re all distanced. Segmented.”
To fill the gap, or connect the dots as Robbie says, in 2015 she founded the Speak Up Empowerment Foundation, Inc. (SUEF), a 501 [c] 3, which is a Black-led and operated non-profit organization. She describes their mission as “a three-part, responsive, strength-based approach of education, encouragement and empowerment designed to uplift and remind single parents that “Yes, You Can!” when the odds are saying “No, You Can’t.”
“I wanted to create a safe space for single moms to replenish their energy. SUEF has created a comprehensive network of community-based mental and physical health, education, employment and training, housing, nutrition, financial and other resource partnerships and services, mobilized to serve families headed by a single parent, especially those in underserved and under-resourced communities.”
The centerpiece of Robbie’s work today is the Ms. Single Mom Empowerment Forum, a free-to-attend, 100% sponsor-driven annual event hosted in Long Beach, CA each spring to celebrate and empower single moms along their journey. “The empowerment forum is our pre-Mother’s Day gift to the single moms in the community,” says Robbie. “We give the moms the resources necessary to answer this: “How can I save time & money?” and the reassurance that they’re not alone in the asking.”
Approximately 150 to 200 moms attend each year. 2023 was exceptionally special because during COVID the company was forced to reimage its approach and transfer the event into a virtual setting during 2021 and 2022. “This year marks our seventh event, and we were finally all together again in person. The energy in the ballroom was AH-mazing! Everyone felt so good to reunite personally again!” says Robbie.
“What sets this event apart is that the resources we offer are located there in one setting,” says Robbie, “and everything about this program facilitates the success of single moms. We are a conduit of information to the community, a trusted messenger who has proven to be trustworthy and reliable, including how we treat other people’s time.”
The Ms. Single Mom Empowerment Forum event is always held on a Saturday, and the speakers and presenters take care never to exceed the allocated time because the audience has a lot to do on the weekend. This is why we also offer free childcare services to the single moms in attendance.The event’s appeal is cross-generational. “Approximately 25 percent of my audience consists of grandmothers who are responsible for minor children,” explains Robbie, adding that elders will often bring their daughters and granddaughters to share the vision, knowledge, and fun.
“This year, both Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson and Assemblyman Mike Gipson stopped by the event and awarded us a Certificate of Recognition. It’s good to be on the radar of our local politicians and know they support our vision,” says Robbie. As for the future, it’s very bright so you might need a pair of shades.
She adds, “Creation of the Speak Up Empowerment Foundation and the publication of my books came from a desire to help others manage life situations that might otherwise knock the breath out of a person.” She recalls her own challenges associated with teenage parenthood, managing divorce, experiencing the loss of a child, and having to change jobs mid-career – none of that was easy and answers weren’t always easy to find. “My own sense of determination, innovation, and resiliency helped to navigate my journey, but many others need a little ‘extra’ assistance. It often takes a village to bridge the gap and restore a person’s balance, and I want to help build a cohesive unit where single moms can find some of those critical answers, in a timely manner.”
Robbie has worked with various nonprofits, and in a board leadership capacity during her previous corporate career. “This prepared me to ask for funding and other types of support. So I ain’t too proud to beg when needed! We understand the importance of philanthropy to support this important cause. The fact is that there are a whole lot of entities out there with a whole lot of money to give to deserving causes. They are just waiting to be asked. So, I speak up, speak out, and ask because this worthy cause won’t succeed without philanthropic support.”
Please take a moment and go to www.speakupempowermentfoundation.org and donate TODAY to the success of this important effort!