Success is measured by many yardsticks, some of which are universal. Others are very personal units of measure, devised through a lifetime of hard work, dedication to a cause, and the right mix of skills. Chanterria McGilbra learned that success meant more to her than earning a six figure salary. It meant using wealth to build up the confidence of young girls in ways they could have only experienced in their dreams.
San Francisco, Born and Raised
An identical twin, Chanterria grew up in the Bay Area without many material luxuries. One of eight children dependent on a single mother who had suffered two strokes, Chanterria was no stranger to challenge and adversity. Determined to make her way forward, she earned the grades to get her through high school and college, even earning an MBA and several foreign languages.
Through a networking connection, Chaterria connected with a new biotech startup, becoming its very first employee despite reservations about hiring on as someone’s assistant. She liked that the owner didn’t talk money, but rather about helping people. The firm, Ultragenyx, went public in 2014, leaving her flush with cash.
What to Do Next?
Thinking on the thrifty side her entire life, Chanterria decided it was acceptable to indulge herself, just this once. After one short test drive, she fell in love with something that would end up changing her life in a big way, along with the lives of many others. One spin in the Ferrari Spider that Fourth of July weekend changed everything. She ordered her own, custom designing it with a titanium exterior, and chocolate brown suede interior, Six weeks later her beauty was delivered. As it turns out, she was the first African American woman to purchase a Ferrari in Northern California, but the firsts don’t stop there.
At a family gathering soon after the purchase, her nephew reminded Chanterria about an idea she had shared aimed at helping young girls. Stopped at a light one day, in her gorgeous new Ferrari, she noticed she had some admirers. A group of giggling school girls were transfixed, following Changerria with wide-eyed stares as she pulled to a stop in her white Spider. One Latina spoke up, voicing her approval of the new ride, “Miss, I like your car.” That was the moment Chanterria knew her idea was golden, responding to the girls that someday, every one of them could drive one, too.
Chanterria was adamant about finding a philanthropic purpose for her wealth. Recognizing the importance of confidence and leadership skills in a young girl’s toolbox, she considered ways to build self-esteem in those who displayed academic promise, but without the advantages provided by wealth and privilege. One way Chanterria knew to elevate self-esteem was through travel.
Chanterria’s dream took shape, as she created a plan to offer scholarships to worthy candidates. The carefully selected girls would spend five weeks in Europe, learning the language and customs. They would then choose a partner, heading off on their own to a suggested location with a small budget. The girls would be required to spend the next month performing charitable volunteer work, making their funds last the entire time, and relying on each other to make it through the experience successfully. At the end of the program, everyone would join together in Monaco for another all-female rally. These girls, her Prancing Ponies, would then return to their homes, attend their respective colleges, and serve as ambassadors to the program, sharing their experience with high school seniors interested in participating in next summer’s adventures.
If her beautiful new Ferrari could immediately inspire these girls with one glance, what a powerful tool it might be with a little planning. Waiting for delivery of her car, she took a driving course in Italy and fell head over heels in love with racing. How perfect, then, to raise funds for her clever plan to give girls confidence and an experience in one package, to seek like-minded female Ferrari owners. Chanterria then created the first ever all female Ferrari rally, scooping up a clutch of prancing sisters to participate. Applying the generous registration fee to the Prancing Ponies’ upcoming summer trip, the Prancing Sisters made history together, enjoying the ride as much as the friendship and the cause.
The group of Ferrari females lined up for the 350 mile trip from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, with cameras clicking all along the route. A sight to behold, the success of the rally has inspired additional dates. There will be a London to Edinborough rally in 2018, a Beijing to Shanghai trip in 2019, and a return to the U.S. in 2020, perhaps along the eastern seaboard.
The First Cohort
This summer, six girls will board a plane for Paris, France, spending the first week in an intensive class covering language, budgeting, booking travel, and team building strategies. The girls will choose their travel partners for the next four weeks, as they make their way through hotels, airbnb stays, laundry, food, and fun. Some of the plans are still in the making, but the celebration at the conclusion of the program in Monaco will be spectacular. There will, of course be a parade of the girls in Ferraris, and a special Saturday night dinner, the location of which has yet to be set. A yacht perhaps? It would seem only fitting.
The deadline for application to the Prancing Ponies program is February 28. The first, Igochi, has already been chosen, as she readies her journalistic skills for work with a French publication. Interested Girls must submit an application, and undergo a readiness evaluation to ensure they are capable of the tasks expected. Chanterria encourages any girls with big dreams, good grades, and small budgets to apply. The chosen group can expect great things, but then, they will return with a wealth of stories, expertise, and confidence.