Jul 26, 2018

Girls Inc.: Your Investment at Work

We live in a country that systematically shuts girls out of opportunities to grow, achieve, and lead. For girls living in poverty, and girls of color - who experience even greater inequities - the consequences are magnified. In fact, one in six girls in the United States will not finish high school, and girls growing up with financial difficulties are five times more likely to be pushed out of school before completion than their peers who are financially secure. They are disproportionately excluded from the resources and opportunities necessary for success.

Thanks to you and your investments, we are building lasting skills across every facet of girls' lives, effectively changing their future trajectories. Beyond providing the life-changing Girls Inc. programming, I’m proud to share that since 1993, we have awarded $5.91 million in scholarships grants to 781 girls to help make secondary education a reality for those who need us most.

As I write this, Girls Inc.’s newest class of National Scholars are actively preparing for their freshman year of college. It is my pleasure to share the story of Diamond, one of our impressive National Scholars from Girls Inc. of Alameda County, written in her own words. Without your support and trust in Girls Inc., her achievements may not have been possible.

Diamond is from Girls Inc. of Chattanooga, where she attended for 5 years. Here is her story, in her own words:

As a very young girl, I had the perfect life. I lived with my mom, dad, brothers and sisters. Pretty normal, right? That all changed in the blink of an eye. When I was ten, my mother suffered from a stroke that left her paralyzed on her right side. While enduring the medical complications with my mom, my father was incarcerated and sent away. Due to his absence, I can vividly remember times when I had to cook on a gas heater, huddling together for warmth, and having to steal our neighbor’s water from their water hose to bathe and cook: basic necessities of life. My mother then suffered from yet another stroke, leaving her in a vegetative state, effectively separating my brothers, sisters and I, because my father had committed another crime and he was sent away again.

Before I knew it, I was forced into an adulthood for which I was not prepared for.

As the years went on, I encountered bad happening after bad happening. For every bad happening, my boat filled more and more. Slowly I was sinking, struggling to stay above water. Girls Inc. has been one of the anchors in my life that allowed me to stay above water.

I began Girls Inc. in the ninth grade. I was hesitant to proceed with the application because of my transportation issues. At this time in my life, I’d lost so much. I felt like I had nothing else to lose, so I went for it. My first day was amazing; the joy I felt each time masked the agony of the ten miles I had to walk to get home afterwards. Everyone was so inviting and loving that I never wanted to leave. As weeks passed, Girls Inc. discovered that I had been walking home and they started providing transportation to and from the program - even though the application read, “applicants must have transportation.” That alone gave me the motivation to push forward. At Girls Inc., I found a safe, consistent place where I was valued, encouraged, and empowered to go after my dreams.

Being a part of Girls Inc. has produced great benefits for me. I have learned to speak out for what I believe in, even when no one else is doing so. I have learned that no one can validate how I feel or look by their personal standards. Being strong, smart, and bold is what defines my character. Girls Inc. has given me the opportunity to take pride in my beliefs and my success.

This fall, I plan to attend North Carolina A&T State University to pursue a degree in social work with a minor in psychology. The hardships I endured growing up have inspired me to be an advocate for children facing similar circumstances.

Eventually, I want to earn a master’s degree in social work so I have the  knowledge and experience to help as many children as I can lead healthy and successful lives.

Diamond is a recent high school graduate with a 3.8 GPA and a bright future. This fall, she will be attending North Carolina A&T State University, studying social work.

Apr 30, 2018

Girls Inc.: Your Investment at Work!

Girls in the U.S. and Canada today face vast and often intersecting challenges such as bullying, sexual harassment, barriers to academic and career success, limited expectations and stereotypes to name a few. Further inequalities associated with race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability only exacerbate these issues. Girls living in poverty are additionally at increased risk of chronic health and psychological disorders, higher rates of violence and crime, lower rates of high school completion, and limited access to the economic and social necessary to thrive.

At Girls Inc., we understand these real and profound challenges, and focus on comprehensive whole-girl development, so each girl has the resources she needs to grow up healthy, educated, independent - especially the girls that need us most. Our pro-girl environment and and girls-only, research-based, programming equips girls to lead fulfilling and productive lives and become role models in their community.

Girls Inc. is actively providing the critical pro-girl, girls-only spaces which break down barriers, and celebrate the strengths that girls bring to the table, confirming to girls that they are capable. In pro-girl, girls-only environments, girls’ concerns are valued and respected; all leadership positions are filled by girls, allowing for girls to find and use their voices, and develop critical leadership skills. By ensuring a physical and emotionally safe space, together, we are increasing girls’ self-esteem and creating social support networks that sets them up for success.

Our research-based programming concentrates solely on girls and young women in order to address the hardships they encounter every day, while leveraging their capabilities. In doing so, we equip girls with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to improve their lives and reach their goals. In fact, research suggests that girls-only programming has been proven to positively impact adolescent girls’ overall well-being: girls engaged in gender-specific programming demonstrate significant positive outcomes, including: improved problem-solving, conflict resolution, critical thinking skills, anti-bullying, refusal skills and increased levels of physical activity. By focusing specifically on girls from low-income communities, together, we, combat the cycle of poverty, and strengthen communities as a whole.

Thanks to your support, we are working diligently towards our organizational goal of doubling the number of girls served intensively by 2020. With your help, it has been possible for Girls Inc. to invest in the promise of our network, and we have measured impressive growth so far: our first group of affiliates - recipients of growth grants in 2017 - have collectively grown a remarkable 41% since their initial awards.

Now, following a rigorous application and review process, we are excited to share with you the second class of affiliates who will continue to grow the network for the girls who need us most:

Girls Inc. of Central Alabama                                             

Girls Inc. of the Central Coast                                             

Girls Inc. of Chattanooga                                                      

Girls Inc. of Columbus and Phenix-Russell                          

Girls Inc. of Fort Smith                                                            

Girls Inc. of Halton                                                                   

Girls Inc. of Kingsport                                                                

Girls Inc. of Limestone, Algonquin, and Lakeshore          

Girls Inc. of Long Island

Girls Inc. of Greater Los Angeles

Girls Inc. of Lowell

Girls Inc. of Memphis

Girls Inc. of Orange County

Girls Inc. of the Seacoast Area

Girls Inc. at the YWCA of Syracuse & Onondaga County

Girls Inc. of Westchester

Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa

I hope you take pride in these significant accomplishments, and the transformational Girls Inc. experience. These well-laid plans were only brought to action through your generosity, your trust in our girls-only programming and pro-girls environments, and your belief in the ability of our network to execute and sustain consistent growth.

We are grateful to work with you to ensure that more girls than ever before have access to the critical resources and skills they need to grow into the adults and the leaders we need for tomorrow.

Warmest regards,

Judy





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Jan 29, 2018

Girls Inc. Update: Your Investment at Work

Thank you for your belief in the limitless potential of girls. Together, we are inspiring thousands of the girls who need us most to grow up as independent, successful adults.

Pursuing post-secondary education is a critical step in achieving true self-sufficiency and the critical financial stability that is required to break negative social cycles and combat recurring systemic issues within families and communities. Your investment in the life-changing Girls Inc. experience is sparking positive developments and achievements every day: 82% of Girls Inc. girls are planning to attend college.

With your help, Girls Inc. has awarded over $5.6 million in scholarships to 758 girls since 1993. Each year, college-bound juniors and senior girls from Girls Inc. affiliates across our national network apply to receive grants, of varying amounts, towards their tuition at colleges or universities of their choice.

I’m proud to share that applications for this year’s scholarships are currently under consideration; and it my pleasure to introduce you to Donna, one of our impressive 2017 National Scholars from Girls Inc. of Alameda County, where she attended for 10 years.

Here is her story, in her own words:

“It is Chinese tradition that all the family wealth would be delegated to a son, for a man was more likely to have a successful future and bring honor to the family. I have been reminded of this every single day. When my younger brother was born, my grandfather nearly burst with joy. Although I felt loved by my grandfather, I felt less desired for something I could not change. It made me feel like less of a human to be female; I was often jealous of the benefits that my brother received for being male.

I realized that almost my entire being was composed of elements that I had pieced together from people around me. I “loved” basketball because my brother and father loved basketball, and I “hated” math because my friends hated math.

That all changed when I joined Girls Inc.

Girls Inc. taught me a concept I will remember forever: the beauty of individuality. The promise of an inclusive, bully-free, environment inspired me to form my own opinions on things that I used to rely on others to decide for me. I was tutoring a fellow Girls Inc. girl in math when my group leader pointed out my excitement in explaining the theorems and algebraic expressions. It was true; there was an unmistakable glee in my voice as I mimicked my math teacher’s lectures. Although my friends did not share the same interest, it felt amazing: I felt like there was a piece of me that I could say was mine and no one could take. Girls Inc. created a chance for me to step out of my comfort zone and develop a voice – my voice. I have also overcome many fears by participating in once-in-a-lifetime experiences like surfing, mountain-biking, and whitewater rafting.

Of all the opportunities that Girls Inc.has provided, the most important is the ability to prepare for my future. I received the most intensive job interview preparation of my life. I utilized these skills to apply for two interactive internships and present myself in a professional manner when networking. I have participated in rigorous preparatory programs at local colleges.

Although I wish for Girls Inc. to guide me through the rest of my life, I know the best thing that Girls Inc. can do for me is to let go of my hand and let me figure out the rest of my future. I will have a successful future; I will bring honor to my family’s name and I will have done all of this because I am a woman. I am the pinnacle of the Girls Inc. motto: I am strong because I have the perseverance to strive for my goals; I am smart because I understand myself well enough to introduce myself without a hitch; I am bold because I can go into this world without worry of rejection.”

Last year, Donna graduated from high school with a 4.4 GPA and a bright future. She is currently a freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles, studying biochemistry.

With your support, Girls Inc. is providing the information, the academic enrichment, and the resources to make it possible for girls, just like Donna, to set and achieve their goals of education beyond high school.

Thank you for being an integral part of our shared journey, as we work together towards a better, brighter future for girls everywhere.

 
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