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.