Photograph of Ann Bancroft with a sled walking through snow in front of a mountain. Text reads "Trailblazer: A Person Who Makes a New Track through Wild Country.


Mercy Ncube, FCCLA, Spring 2023

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In her own words

Mercy Ncube was awarded an Ann Bancroft Foundation award in Spring 2023 to attend the FCCLA Nationals Competition in Denver, Colorado. The 11th-grader from Blaine, MN achieved her goal of placing in the top 10 at this competion. Hear her story below in her own words. 

"Over the the first week of July, I had the opportunity to compete at the National Level in my Entrepreneurship Star Event of a club named FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America). I placed 5th out of 100 participants. I was really excited to both travel with my peers and maximize my potential at the National level.

Out of this competition, I was nervous to compete at the National level with no prior experience against so many people. I was also nervous to meet and connect with people around the nation. Through overcoming my fears, I was able to both succeed in my competition and get out of my comfort zone.

The biggest dream I have as of right now is to attend Duke University after high school. I am proud of how I’ve strived in maximizing my potential and passing it on to my younger siblings. Through my last couple years of high school, I have prioritized my education and upheld an GPA of 3.8 with honors, AP and college classes, that will only go up from here with my motivation and drive that I’ve attained in these years.  I am proud that I have been able to demonstrate my potential and motivate my siblings to be better than me through all I have experienced." - Mercy Ncube

Lauren Skar, Competitive Volleyball, Fall 2018

Written by Petra Lyon (Senior, Breck)

Lauren was awarded an Ann Bancroft Foundation grant in the fall of 2018 to play competitive volleyball at club AAU volleyball. She participated on the club’s top team where she traveled around the country, furthering her technical development and pursuing her dream of playing college volleyball.    

Now, Lauren is a Junior at St. Kate’s where she is playing Division III volleyball while also pursuing a degree. She will graduate in December of 2022 and hopes to travel and work in the environmental education field.  

While ABF helped Lauren pursue her dream, she also is grateful for the important life lessons ABF taught her. One of the most valuable lessons Lauren learned was how to formulate a resume. For the application process, Lauren had to sit down and physically write down her goals and qualifications. Learning how to advocate for herself and organize her achievements into a resume, Lauren has found this quality to translate into her adult life.  

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Lauren was able to take a break from volleyball and spend time with her family when she moved home to do school remotely. Looking back, she appreciates the time she spent at home with her family, along with going on daily walks. Lauren has implicated some of her quarantine routines into her daily life by structuring time to go on walks and enjoy her surroundings. Lastly, Lauren’s advice for future trailblazers is “to always go for it, the worst thing you can hear is no.” 

Sabrina, Youth in Government, Fall 2015


Written by Petra Lyon (Senior, Breck)

Sabrina was awarded an Ann Bancroft Foundation grant in the fall of 2015 for the Youth in Government (YIG) program where she was immersed in government and politics. She participated in the courts for two years and as a lobbyist for two years and proceeded to go to Girls State.  

When Sabrina’s acceptance letter came in the mail, she was ecstatic. Sabrina exclaims that, “I didn’t believe I was deserving or capable of getting a grant at all [before applying for ABF].” From Sabrina’s experience at YIG, not only did she learn the importance of being involved and aware of bills circulating in her own state, but she heightened her confidence and found her voice.  

Now at Anoka Ramsey Community College, Sabrina is completing her AA in Mass Communications and plans to start Mass Communications at the U of M in the fall of 2022. Sabrina desires to work in PR, Marketing to connect with people and help them find their voices just as ABF helped her do.  

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sabrina has continued to display her resilience by prioritizing being empathetic with others and to herself. Sabrina found that staying true to herself was key, a lesson instilled in her from YIG. Sabrina’s final words for any current and/or future trailblazers is, “Other people have their own perception of you—don’t let your self perception stop you from pursuing an opportunity.” 

Image: Collage of girls. Text: "Impact Stories: My self-confidence sky-rocketed because I began trusting my own abilities."


Our founder Ann Bancroft is one of the world's preeminent polar explorers and an internationally recognized leader who is dedicated to inspiring women and girls around the world to unleash the power of their dreams... in other words, Ann is a trailblazer. See the woman above crossing the snow and ice? Yeah, that's Ann!

Our grant alumnae are the young women currently making tracks through this 'wild country' we call the 21st century. Through their grant activity, they have all made strides in pushing themselves to reach their full potential. Which, in our minds, means they are Ann Bancroft Foundation Trailblazers.

If you are a Trailblazer and want to share your story, please contact Lauren Skar, Program Coordinator. 
Click here for more information on our grant programs.

Since 1997, ABF has funded over $2.3 million to 5,300 Minnesota girls in grades K-12. The grants are investments that have an immediate and lasting impact and are about more than giving girls money. For many, it is the first time someone believed in them, heard their dream, and took a stand for them. Each ABF grant opens the window to a world of possibilities, providing a young Minnesota girl an opportunity she may never have thought existed.