Statistics are percentages categorizing the “norm” of a particular phenomenon or happening. Statistics tell us that African American women are the most educated, that certain neighborhoods across the nation are an unfortunate cess pool of violence, politicians utilize these numbers to boost morale during election years – employment rates are up, homelessness is down.
For many, becoming a “statistic” is negative. Using that phrase points towards ugly connotations and Autumn Williams refused to adorn the statistical definition associated with becoming a teen mom.
“I wasn’t expecting to ever get pregnant in high school. I was really active in sports and actually had a full ride to go play volleyball in college, which was my complete dream,” Autumn explained.
Dreams of being a student athlete quickly vanished upon discovering that she was six months pregnant just a week before she was ready to head to school.
“Life completely changed in a of a couple of days,” she reflected.
After the shock and myriad of emotions tapered down, Autumn realized that she was not alone in her situation and that she could still make an important impact on lives. Initially wanting to attend school for nursing, her desire to help people evolved into helping young women like herself enter motherhood with the necessary skills and knowledge needed to be successful.
While juggling two young boys, ages four and six, a full time Masters course load studying Human Services Counseling, and work, Autumn, a Virginia native and resident, launched the Two Percent Project – a non-profit organization combating the statistic of young mothers completing college before 30.
“I saw the statistics that less than two percent of teen moms actually graduate college by the age of 30,” Autumn said. “Based off my experience, I tried to better myself and go to college. It really spoke volumes to me and made want to start something that can help teen parents reach those goals that are not likely in your favor.”
Currently in the process of finalizing a location in Alexandria, Virginia to house her non-profit, Autumn and her team are fine tuning their services catered to young moms. From options counseling, workshops discussing adoption and abortion, a parenting program, and incentives including maternity clothing and newborn essentials, the Two Percent Project is a safe haven for young parents to receive education on every aspect without judgment and amongst peers.
Relying on her own personal experiences, Autumn is hoping to provide a space where teen moms feel comfortable and understood.
“Visiting other organizations is a lot of why I wanted to start it. My dad took me to a crisis pregnancy center and I really enjoyed it but the counseling was very one-sided,” she explained. “They were all about getting married right away to avoid poverty and my boyfriend wasn’t in the position to provide for us so it didn’t really make sense. I felt like I was doing my own research on education, job and work programs, and other community resources. Realistic options for someone in my position.”
Autumn’s drive to juggle her very full life and the creation of this organization is powered by the community of young women excited to have an organization like this created. Through reaching out to her community, the network of women she’s met serves as a daily reminder of why the Two Percent Project is important.
“I get so much feedback from women who wish there was something like this when they were going through it,” she said. “I just love what I do and hope that we can make this available nationwide.”
Learn more about the Two Percent Project and how you can get involved via their website.