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Concrete Queenz

Victoria Craven, July 2023, Hidayah, Bones Love Milk Shredquarters in Huntington Beach

Concrete Queenz is a nonprofit organization founded by a former teacher from Baltimore who was inspired by her experience teaching in South Los Angeles schools. What started in Spring 2022 as an after-school skateboarding club with just 12 participants has rapidly grown into a full-fledged program serving 50 girls across two schools. The mission is to provide a safe, inclusive space where these underserved girls can learn skateboarding while developing valuable life skills like leadership, teamwork, and confidence. Beyond just skating, Concrete Queenz brings in community mentors from diverse backgrounds like artists, influencers, and entrepreneurs to expose participants to educational and career opportunities outside traditional expectations. Through field trips, camps, collaborations with local organizations, and plans to keep expanding across LA schools, the nonprofit aims to empower more girls by combining the transformative power of skateboarding with community support and exposure to new horizons.

Shelly Simon, Feb 2024, Audrey, Animo Legacy Charter Middle School

Hello Audrey, tell us about your background, where you grew up, key moments, and how this project started.

I'm originally from Baltimore Maryland and I went to the University of Maryland College Park where I majored in Public Health. When I graduated, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do so I started working at a youth development program in Baltimore City. I fell in love with the kids that I worked with and I saw how dysfunctional the educational system was in these schools compared to the schools I went to growing up. 

From this awareness, it ignited a passion in me to serve these students by providing them with as many opportunities as I could. However, in my current role, I felt like I wasn't doing enough. I applied for Teach for America and I was placed in Los Angeles and taught for 7 years with Green Dot Public Schools while also getting my Masters's Degree at Loyola Marymount University in Urban Education: Administration and Policy. We now operate Concrete Queenz at both schools that I taught at in South LA.

From my experience as a teacher, I noticed that in addition to educational disparities and lack of resources, there was a lack of opportunity for kids to play and more specifically a safe place for girls to engage in sports. At this point, I had been skating for about 2 years and skateboarding truly changed my life. I wanted to bring that same opportunity and experience to the girls at my school. 

Victoria Craven, Dec 2022, Sparkles and Nani, Wilson Park in Compton
Victoria Craven, Dec 2022, Ariona, Wilson Park in Compton

I started Concrete Queenz in the Spring of 2022 as a teacher led club after school. I had no real idea of how the program would operate or if there would be any interest. We started with 12 girls in the program, and from that point on there was an overwhelming amount of support from the skate community and there were so many girls that were interested in the program. That was really the first time I was really like “Oh, I have something here”. 

In the Fall of 2022, I filed for my non-profit status and that year we had 25 girls in the program and then that's when I knew I needed to turn my full attention to focus on this program. I quit my teaching job in June of 2023 and this was the first year that I started working full time on CQ.

I secured a contract with Green Dot Public Schools, allowing me to expand to another school site. With programming at two schools, we are now working with 50 girls. Last year we received our first big grant from the LA Dodgers Foundation for $25,000 and have since received grants from The Aerie Real Foundation for $10,000, Champion for $5,000, and $4,000 from Skate Like a Girl funded by Nike and Converse.

Victoria Craven, Dec 2022, Mya and Allyson, Wilson Park in Compton
Victoria Craven, July 2023, Audrey and Hidayah, Bones Love Milk Shredquarters in Huntington Beach

For me, some key moments have been watching the girls take ownership of the program and pushing each other to improve their skate skills and confidence along with supporting one another outside of the skate-related activities. Other key moments surround the travel opportunities for the girls. At the end of every school year, we go on a trip to Venice Beach to skate at the park and explore. For many of the girls, it was their first time stepping into the sand of the California coastal shoreline. We also have collaborated with organizations such as the Poseidon Foundation to send our girls to different camps such as Woodward West skate camp and continue to build capacity for girls to engage in other programs in and around the Los Angeles area.

Shelly Simon, Feb 2024, Concrete Queenz, Animo Legacy
Shelly Simon, Feb 2024, Obi, Animo Legacy Charter Middle School

What is the Focus and Mission of Concrete Queenz?

Concrete Queenz is a nonprofit that brings skateboarding and community to underserved girls in South LA. Our mission is to create a safe and inclusive space for girls to learn and practice skateboarding while building valuable life skills such as leadership, teamwork, and communication. We've been able to collaborate with a lot of amazing organizations in our community. We've collaborated with the Compton Cowboys, the Compton Project, Compton isn't Dangerous, and Inner Black Yoga to uplift the positive things going on in the communities we serve. We've also collaborated with the Poseidon Foundation to send our girls to Woodward Skate Camp and are working with Skate Like A Girl to hopefully send some of our girls to their camp at YMCA Sequoia Lake

Victoria Craven, 2022, Compton Cowboys and Concrete Queenz, Wilson Park in Compton

Elaborate on the project's educational component, and how this has improved the lives of the girls who participate.

One of our biggest focal points over the past year has been to bring in people from the community or people who share identities with the girls that we serve to do college and career knowledge. Throughout this year, we have brought people who are doing non-traditional jobs such as makeup artists, influencers, artists who make their own jewelry, or individuals who have their brand work in the state industry. These mentors come and talk about their experiences and struggles and just give advice to the girls. This is something that the girls have been extremely engaged with and we've just seen it make a big difference in terms of allowing them to choose their interests versus doing something that's forced upon them in school.

Craig Chubard, June 2022, Gabby, Venice Skatepark
Shelly Simon, Feb 2024, Iliana, Animo Legacy Charter Middle School

What is your favorite thing about Concrete Queenz?

Skateboarding and having fun.

My favorite thing about being in the Concrete Queenz is that I can be with my friends more and I feel happy to be with them.

The new things I learn.

Everything, I have fun doing the thing I love and I also have fun with the people around .

Being with people. Dayra (7th grade)

The friendships that we all have together and how you guys help us out with the actual skating. Valeria (6th Grade)

Learning how to skate. NaVeah (7th grade)

Skating is just like really inspiring to me and I really want to learn how to do the ramp but its hard for me. Cheyenne (7th grade)

The confidence that it gives me and the strength that it gives me and the environment that I’m in. Mya (7th grade)

Shelly Simon, Feb 2024, Sophie, Animo Legacy Charter Middle School

What do you love about skateboarding?

I get my mind off of things and I just learn how to do tricks. Dayra (7th grade)

It takes me out of my problems. If I have a problem with something when I skateboard it just goes away. Valeria (6th Grade)

I get to ride my skateboard, taking it home to practice tricks and learn new ones.

NaVeah (7th grade)

When I’m on a skateboard I feel like I can't balance myself but I still get back up again and do it again till I can. Mya (7th grade)

Shelly Simon, Feb 2024, Kamiah, Animo Legacy Charter Middle School

How does skateboarding make you feel?

Happy and relaxed. Dayra (7th grade)

It helps me feel calm. Valeria (6th Grade)

Happy. NaVeah (7th grade)

It makes me feel like I could do anything. Cheyenne (7th grade)

Mad sometimes. And joyful when I complete something that I've been working on for a long time like going down the ramp. I keep doing it because if you don't succeed you try again.

Mya (7th grade)

Shelly Simon, Feb 2024, J'Hia, Animo Legacy Charter Middle School

What is the Path Forward?

Our goal with Concrete Queenz is to make sure that our two current programs are running and operating successfully with the hopes that we can expand within Green Dot and serve more students in South LA. One option for our growth model is to expand to our sister high school so we would be able to start with girls in sixth grade and then follow them through high school and support them post-high school either in college or whatever career path they choose. Long-term, those girls come back and mentor and run the program and then they would be the Concrete Queenz staff that take over the program.

To reach our short-term and long-term goals, we must reach our target budget of $200,000. This budget will go to staff salaries, program operations, equipment, and travel, all of which are critical to the long-term success and sustainability of our program.

Victoria Craven, July 2023, Hidayah and Audrey, Bones Love Milk Shredquarters in Huntington Beach

Thank you so much to all of our amazing mentors, volunteers, and donors. We could not do this without you! A big thank you to all of the brands that have supported us since the beginning. 

Arbor Skateboards, Cariuma, Impala Skate, Triple8NYC, GrlSwirl, Indigo Garden, Pura Vida, Keen Ramps, Fat Sal’s, Mamaskate, Sean Davis and Grind Theory, Venice Skateboarding Stuff, Havalina Skate, Gold Coast Skateboards, Yowsurf, Inner Black Yoga, Venice Surfing Association, Downhill Dogs, Area F Clothing, Day Watch, Jart Skateboards, Dogtown Fundraising, Leandre Sanders aka Skate Goat, The Venice Waterfront, The Venice Ale House, Juice Magazine, Bones Love Milk (got milk?), Get Back Necklaces, Unsubscribe, Mad Hippie, Volcom Womens, Poseidon Foundation, Bones, DGK, Electric & Rose, and Kiss Kiss Tattoo.

Curated Playlist from girls at Concrete Queenz for WIG!


Audrey Faison is originally from Baltimore Maryland. She is an educator, skater, and surfer living in Venice Beach, California. Audrey received her Master's Degree in Urban Education: Administration and Policy from Loyola Marymount University. This year marks her 10th year in education. Audrey has been a teacher with Green Dot Public Schools for 7 years and is the Founder and Executive Director of Concrete Queenz, which provides safe places for girls to skateboard and build community. In addition to her work with Concrete Queenz, she also creates skate and surf content, models and collaborates with brands such as Yowsurf, Facebook, Vans, Prime Video, Oakley, Champion, Russell Athletic, Lancome, Volcom, and Lululemon.

Additional Information

Concrete Queenz: website + @concretequeenz

Compton Cowboys: @comptoncowboys

Inner Black Yoga: @innerblackyoga

Photographers + Credits

Craig Chubard: @shotswithcraig

Shelly Simon: @shellyandthesnaps

Victoria Craven: @theprettycultivator

Concrete Queenz graphics Sharlene Perkins by @sharleneartsy

Photos of the two girls in makeup - Audrey Faison, 2022, Dia de Muertos Celebration; Makeup by @officialmakeupgangsta, Animo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School

Group Photos of  Inner Black Yoga session by Audrey Faison, 2022

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