Summer Session 2014 -- our 8th Consecutive -- saw far and away the highest attendance in our history, with 60% more girls than our usual average of 30 to 35 participants ages 6-14 signing-up. This simply illustrated what we already know -- that the clamor for girl-centered enrichment and development programming in our rapidly-growing and -changing community is on the increase.
That especially holds true for our promising but vulnerable middle school girls. Their feet need to find healthy pathways if they are to negotiate the risky adolescent years successfully and enter upon young adulthood ready to enter into vocational or collegiate training with minimum encumbrances.
We couldn't have done it without the support of our community partners. Longtime ally Eastside Preparatory School opened their doors to us, providing the extra facility space which the larger number of girls required. Some of our Summer Session interns and volunteers were also Eastside students. Other organizations from the YMCA to the Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation provided access to athletic, artistic, and literacy programming. Thanks to all of you!
If we do say so ourselves, what a program we had! Girls took advantage of well-rounded spectrum of activities ranging from swimming to creative writing workshops, gardening, exciting field trips, STEM-related digital programming and other Information Technology classes, math games, mindfulness exercises, learning the habitat requirements for their favorite animals, team sports, and stage plays.
The hallmark of our approach to youth development is personalized attention. Here again, with a record-breaking 51 girls for Summer Session 2014, our community did not let us down. Eight collegiate and high-school interns and volunteers stepped forward to support our 6 program staff with the fine-grained mentorship that only a low (1:4 for Summer Session '14) ratio of participants to program personnel can deliver. That's not to mention the stellar contributions of our parents, who did everything from make lunches and stage costumes to taxiing carfuls of girls for our several field trips.
Speaking of that, our girls enjoyed these special excursions to:
Field trips are a perenniel favorite . . . we find that some of the more economically-challenged and immigrant-background girls have simply not had many chances to get out of their neighborhoods to see what the Greater Bay Area has to offer. Yet we have seen how young hearts and minds can open when they do have such experiences.
Positive self-image building, multiculturalism, and counteraction of negative stereotypes about women and girls is another cornerstone of our approach, and Summer Session 2014 was no exception. Guided mindfulness exercises, group discussions, review and critique of cultural signals, personal sharing and testimony, and artistic explorations, along with mentoring from high-achieving, culturally-reflective women, are the means by which we accomplish this. And we could not have failed completely in this, because it was the girls themselves who asserted that a Talent Show should form the centerpiece of our Annual End-of-Summer Celebration in late July would be an appropriate way to wrap-up our summer. As-always, staff, volunteers, and parents pulled out all the stops to ensure that the Celebration would be a success.
Our parents, community leaders, donors, volunteers, and other supporters were therefore treated to a variety show that didn't disappoint, featuring renditions of famous show tunes, dazzling costumes, distinctive solo performances, and more. What struck us, as it always does, is how girls who might have begun with us as shy introverts can literally 'take the stage' and present themselves in no uncertain terms to a crowd of familiar and new faces in ways that would have been impossible for them before. Yes, the term 'heart-warming' is a bit of a cliche' -- but it certainly applied in this case, and we couldn't have been happier about the strong note that was struck by the Talent Show to end this year's Summer Session.
Now of course, we're off and running with our School Year 2014-2015 Program. We're implementing more STEM-learning for our girls with mentoring from Palo Alto's prestigious Castilleja School computer-savvy high school students, continuing our Parent Education workshops, and delivering our balance of academic, artistic, athletic, positive socialization, and just plain fun activities.
But it is good to stop every once in awhile and reflect back on how our organization and community came together to make our biggest Summer Session ever the success that it was. Thanks again to all of our logistical, in-kind, financial, and moral supporters!
“Never A Dull Moment” seems to be the best description of things here at ‘g2W’ recently. No sooner had the dust settled on Spring Semester 2014 than 35 girls ages 6-14 galloped in to partake of Summer Session 2014, our 7th Consecutive. They're finding a program which is informed by new levels of parental input, and which ranges from poetry writing to gardening to basketball to regional nature & science field trips. And a new emphasis on literacy enhancement through love-of-reading activities
During the past semester and now into Summer Session we’re continuing to place special emphasis on targeted services to middle-school girls. This age-group, on the cusp in so many ways, is vulnerable yet receptive to the kind of mentored programming that can keep their feet on a healthy path through the turbulent adolescent years.
But all the girls whom we serve deserve a full measure of age-appropriate activities and mentoring from caring older youth and adults. Individual attention is a hallmark of our approach to youth development.
The Latter Half of Spring Semester 2014 featured:
As if that weren’t enough, we’ve been grooming new Board Members, and happily were able to make a large matching challenge grant of $30,000 from regional funding powerhouse the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. We’re so grateful that our community stepped forward to match, dollar-for-dollar, the $30,000 put up by an anonymous donor operating through SVCF’s ‘Silicon Valley Gives’ fund campaign. Not only dollars but publicity and hence greater community recognition comes with the matching award, which we received in May.
With fresh wind in our sails, a new Program Director, and new levels parental input and involvement, we feel ready to deliver a stellar Summer Session 2014 and be ahead of the curve for roll out a successful School Year 2014-2015 program.
Thanks to all of our in-kind, volunteer and financial supporters – we couldn’t do it without you!
As is customary, first on the schedule is homework! Girls continue to support one another to do their very best as they complete homework assignments. At numerous parent-teacher conferences, which our staff attend at the request of the parents, teachers explain that they have seen significant improvements not only in girls' completion of homework assignments but also in the effort invested in completing the assignments.
Next on the agenda are activities! We continue to highlight the arts, health & nutrition, leadership, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning. Depending on volunteers and partnerships, activities can vary. One of the most popular activities at the moment is through a partnership with a local high school's Programming Club.
Girls in our after-school program are learning the answer to the question What is programming? They are doing so through hands-on workshops on programming lead by a group of dedicated high-school girls. Using age-appropriate and again hands-on methods, our girls will learn how to program a maze. They will do so using Scratch, a programming language for youth ages 8-16 that makes it easy to create stories, games and simulations.
There is nothing better than girls learning from other girls and women. We will be sure to update you on all that the girls accomplish! Thank you to the GlobalGiving community for the support!
Happy Holidays! As we take the time to reflect on all of our accomplishments this 2013-2014 school year, we want to extend our sincerest thank you to the GlobalGiving community for all of the support over the years.
We are happy to share an update on our 2013-2014 school year. This school year thus far we have served 28 girls - 75% are Latina, 11% are Asian-Indian, 11% are African American and 3% Pacific-Islander.
Our after-school program participants continue to prioritize homework. With the support of our dedicated staff and community volunteers, including local high-achieving high-school female students, the girls work through their homework assignments and projects before moving on to other activities. Staff, volunteers and the girls, have created an environment of learning where everyone works together in making sure everyone succeeds.
Once homework is complete, girls engage in educational and skill-building activities. To name a couple examples, on Monday afternoons, music teachers Catherine and Kari lead the music workshop. Girls are introduced to new songs, they learn basic guitar notes and they lead each other by introducing songs they perform. Recently girls performed Christmas carols for their parents and families at our Holiday Celebration, including one of their favorite songs Mary Did You Know?
On Tuesday afternoons, girls participate in Fresh Fest, a class lead by our local partner Collective Roots, that incorporates cooking in conjunction with a nutrition lesson. It’s great to see girls prepare and try food like humus for the first time and say, “Wow, I actually like this!”
As girls continue to push themselves to earn the school grades they work so hard to achieve, to try new activities and to support each other in their journeys, we are grateful to be able to witness first-hand the growth of each of the girls we serve.
Our 2013 Summer Session was lively, varied, and, in short, action-packed! Thirty-two girls, 20 volunteers and interns, and 3 staff members joined together to create a rich variety of hands-on activities and workshops. 91% of the girls are Latina, 3% are African-American and 6% are Asian-Indian.
This year’s summer theme was ‘Self-Development.’ Through it, the girls reflected-upon and explored their self-awareness, personal potential, and identity.
In the first week, girls participated in community-building exercises. Our aim was to establish an atmosphere of trust in which girls could navigate the influences that affect self-development.There’s a lot of pressure on girls regarding ‘beauty’ and physical appearance, and such pressures can make it difficult for girls to find their own authentic values. To address this, the girls analyzed their own definitions of ‘beauty’ and where these ideas come from in society. They reflected on their discoveries through group discussions, journal entries, and a variety of artistic creations, from collages to poetry. The girls also defined the expectations they have for themselves and others. One popular exercise involved creation of ‘Goal Boards,’ where each girl wrote-up her own goals and added them to a community display, meant to illustrate how bettering ourselves involves supporting others.
Field Trips Every Monday and Wednesday morning, the girls took swimming lessons at the local YMCA. They also went on field trips to three different locations this summer: The Chabot Space and Science Center, the Monterey Aquarium, and the San Francisco Exploratorium.
Workshops Lead by Women Professionals Seventeen professional women lead a variety of activities introducing their careers and vocations. Through these high-achieving mentors, our young participants caught a glimpse of many different career options and, more importantly, saw that women are leaders within them. Workshops covered anything from poetry, to renewable energy, journalism, and engineering.
Family Night During our festive family night, each group of girls presented their various artistic, poetic, and other creations with their age-graded summer group. The youngest ‘American Girls,’ in grades K – 2, sang a short song they wrote. The ‘Eaglettes,’ girls in grades 3rd – 5th, took turns reading their goals from their ‘Goal Board’ outlining their aspirations. The ‘Cheetah Girls,’ girls in grades 6th – 8th, read their ‘Just Because’ poems – poems on debunking stereotypes imposed on them. It was most rewarding to witness the pride with which parents saw their daughters take the stage. Our Family Nights let girls see how much their community believes in them – and we don’t think that there’s a better way to bolster girls’ self-confidence.
Our goal was for our participants to leave the summer program with a better understanding of themselves, and with useful tools for self-discovery. Judging by the responses which we saw in the girls over the course of Summer Session 2013, we believe that, with the help of our parents, volunteers, and interns, we succeeded in that aim.
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East Palo Alto,
East Palo Alto,