Who We Are
Polished Pebbles, an Illinois Gold Star rated mentoring program, is a Chicago-based mentoring initiative that increases the communication skills and employ-ability of young women for the future workplace. Polished Pebbles helps girls ages 7-17 become effective communicators at home, school, and their future careers. The organization currently serves 500+ girls and young women per school year in Illinois, Indiana, and Texas. Since our inception in 2009, Polished Pebbles has worked with over 1,500 African-American and Latina girls and provided over 500 mentors to girls in more than 40 sites throughout Chicago. These sites include Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Housing Authority communities, and University of Chicago Charter Schools. Polished Pebbles has also built partnerships with businesses such as iHeart Radio, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, ThoughtWorks, The Chicago Sky, and the University of Chicago.
Our successful model has allowed us to expand nationally piloting programs on the college level at Duke University where we provided young women with a safe, identity affirming space, mentors, professional relationships, and fellowship with other women of color.
Chicago girls are increasingly affected by violence, without equitable access to the attention, programming, aid, and social support provided to boys.
Girls of color are especially vulnerable to childhood trauma, sexual violence, and sexual trafficking that divert them from the school and into the juvenile justice system. These risks are barriers to girls future success in the workspace.
why we matter
Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program is the only girls program in Chicago that brings an innovative group of stakeholders to the table to beat the odds and provide real opportunities in careers in tech, retail, the trades, engineering, and the non-profit sector. Girls of color in Chicago experience the same poverty, violence, and trauma as boys, but have far fewer programs designed to address their specific needs and life experiences.
Our unique strategy combines these elements into one continuum of programming that starts when girls are 10 and ends with us supporting them in new employment and/or higher education or trade school.
We have a network of more than a dozen corporate partners who provide workplace job shadows, mock interviews, financial education, mentoring, and a network of women leaders in Chicago’s leading corporations. Polished Pebbles is the only mentoring program or youth job readiness program in Chicago that can boast of our talent pipeline that starts in elementary school and accelerates through college or post-secondary training, all underpinned by our proprietary anti-violence, social emotional, and communications focused mentoring
What we do
meet our team
Led by our founder and executive board members, our leadership charts the course for the future of Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program. They support and set the tone for the programs and events that we offer to our girls, help to establish relationships with our corporate partners to develop unique career exploration opportunities, and execute their commitment to our organization and the girls and families that we serve with action.
Kelly Fair, Founder and Executive Director of Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program is a passionate advocate for girls and young women. She’s a social entrepreneur, author, public speaker, training specialist, mentor, and expert on community engagement.
Kelly is a sought-after speaker for mentoring, communication skills, girls’ development and job readiness, professional leadership development, and social entrepreneurship. She’s a dynamic storyteller, communications expert, and relatable voice with the keen ability to penetrate the hearts of women with her honesty and expertise. Through her authentic conversational speaking style, she connects across socioeconomic statuses, intergenerationally, and cross-culturally—making her a phenomenal speaker or training facilitator in a conference setting.
Her ability to “polish pebbles”, helping young women and girls shine, has brought her recognition from Bank of America, ComEd, Verizon, Google, Duke University, Du Sable Museum of African American History, Social Enterprise Alliance, and more.
Since launching Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program 10 years ago in Chicago, Kelly’s signature communications and job readiness programming has expanded from elementary age girls to include high school, college programs, families, prominent women leaders, and to sites in Northwest Indiana, Dallas, Texas, and North Carolina.
Kelly has been featured in Ebony magazine, The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, The Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Woman magazine. Her book, “They’re All The Same Girl”, about her journey working with girls and building her highly regarded girls mentoring program, is available online.
Kelly has presented keynote remarks and participated as a panelist at local, national, and international events. Book Kelly Fair | The Mentor for your next keynote speaking engagement, conference or event panel. For rates and availability, email Sonya Lewis at email@example.com.
For more on Kelly,
kellykaefair.com | @kfairthementor