Aug 7, 2017

Girls Inc. Update: Your Investment at Work

While you may not have physically been by their sides, through your support of Girls Inc., you’ve been with the girls we serve every step of the way of their time with Girls Inc. Your generosity lives in each of the girls who turn to Girls Inc. as they navigate the challenges of poverty, peer pressure, and low expectations.

You are present in the research-based, age-appropriate, hands-on and minds-on educational programming tailored specifically to develop their minds. You’re there in the safe, girls-only space, where trusted staff provide emotional, developmental support and healthy, nourishing snacks to ensure girls can leave the stresses and concerns of school, family, and neighborhood at the door and focus on their own education and well-being. Simply put, you’re there for girls, among the specially-trained mentors and volunteers, guiding them through the critical comprehensive whole-girl experience of Girls Inc.

Thank you for investing in Girls Inc. girls. The best gift that we can return to you is the knowledge and trust that your investment is hard at work, and actively fueling the impact that you intended for so many. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Ana, who attended Girls Inc. of Carpinteria for 13 years. Here is her story, in her own words:

In school, I was reserved. I wouldn’t raise my hand even if I knew the answer because I lacked self-confidence and was afraid of sounding like a showoff. I found myself comparing my body to others’ along with media’s portrayal of the ideal female body, which led to insecurities and self-doubt. I was always looking for validation from others. I remember in the ninth grade working on a paper for class on unrealistic beauty standards. As I was writing, I began to worry how this topic would come off to my male peers. I knew this issue deserved more attention, but in the end, I changed my topic.

I let fear win. More than upsetting someone else, I had betrayed myself.

For the last 13 years, Girls Inc. has played a crucial role in developing my self-confidence and self-esteem. Through Girls Inc.’s constant support and motivation, I have blossomed into a confident and radiant girl. The girls-only environment created a comforting atmosphere where I feel secure in my leadership, encouraged to explore non-traditional subjects and safe to discuss my personal struggles. Girls Inc. has a nurturing environment where I feel comfortable discussing problems facing women, such as the gender wage gap, reproductive freedom, and the underrepresentation of women in STEM. In a time lacking security, when my dad lost his job and we lost our home due to foreclosure, Girls Inc. gave me an outlet where there would be no problems and a place that I could go to get away from the hard times at home.

With Girls Inc.’s Eureka! Program, I developed stronger verbal skills and higher confidence in academics, and learned to design a solar oven. The Animal Care Club helped me to be comfortable around animals I had never seen before, and reporting the results of my science fair project taught me the importance of communication skills and data analysis. It wasn’t until I started Girls Inc.’s theater workshops that I learned to accept my body for what it was - strong and powerful - not stick thin and “perfectly” curvy. Our warm-up activities were based on building confidence: the simplest one had the greatest effect on me. We were challenged to look ourselves in the mirror and stand with our hands on our hips. For the first time, I felt empowered looking at my muscles and broad shoulders. I felt strong.

Girls Inc. has enabled me to transform from an insecure kindergartner into a resilient young woman. Girls Inc. helped me realize that I have the right to be myself, resist gender stereotypes and take pride in my success. The concept of Girls Rights at Girls Inc. has empowered me to embrace my identity as a first-generation Mexican-American, and a proud feminist. Girls Inc. has made me feel emotionally safe and empowered, knowing that I can succeed and be taken seriously for the girl I am and the woman I am becoming. I entered Girls Inc. as a shy kindergartener, but I walk out the door as a strong, smart, and bold girl.

Ana recently graduated from high school with a 4.33 GPA and a bright future. This fall, she will be attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, to study political science.  

Your investment supports a variety of positive outcomes for girls all over the country, many of whom have struggled just like Ana.

For every girl that we are able to serve, there are equally many that we have yet to reach. That’s why we are proud to partner with you, as we strive to double the number of girls we serve intensively by 2020,  making certain that no girl has limits on her potential or aspirations because of her gender or background.

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

May 10, 2017

Girls Inc. Update: Your Investment at Work

Every day, across the length and breadth of our continent, girls face barriers that impact their interests, self-image, education, and stifle their potential. Our culture is punctuated with subtle sexism that negatively conditions girls and adversely influences their development. Discrimination knows no border or state line; when there is inequality somewhere, there is inequality everywhere. An obstacle challenging one girl, challenges all girls.

It’s no longer enough to celebrate how far we’ve come; it is crucial to acknowledge the systemic issues at hand and how far we have yet to go to achieve real equality. The women and girls of today are barraged by obstacles in every stage of life. From exposure to childhood poverty, schoolyard bullying, to sexual assault and harassment, domestic violence and beyond; to the overarching national concerns like the inexplicable gender wage gap and the constant debate over healthcare and reproductive rights, women and girls are subject to routinized discrimination at the hands of society at large. 

In politics and the media, women are misrepresented, underrepresented, and consistently discriminated against. Girls Inc. is uniquely positioned to support the girls of today on their journeys to becoming the strong, smart, and bold women of tomorrow; but we recognize that true equality for girls and women is a moving target.

That’s why at Girls Inc., we are dedicated to progress and growth: we have embarked on a strategic campaign which will enable us to better meet the needs of even more girls across the country. We are thrilled to share that over the next three years, Girls Inc. will be increasing the number of girls served by 50%, meaning an additional 150,000 girls will receive the vital comprehensive programming in healthy living, academic enrichment and life skills instruction that inspires girls towards a commitment to hard work and achievement.

Since March 2017, we have disbursed investments of $3.525 million to support the growth of 17 key Girls Inc. locations; these affiliates, which are representative of the whole Girls Inc. Network, have demonstrated readiness for accelerated expansion. We are proud to highlight the following affiliates, who will lead our plans for aggressive growth from plan to action:

  • Tarrant County/Fort Worth, TX
  • New York City
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Greater Madison, WI
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Shelbyville, IN
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Durham, Ontario
  • New Hampshire
  • Tennessee Valley
  • Metro Denver
  • Holyoke, MA
  • Greater Philadelphia
  • Bay County, FL
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Nashville, TN
  • Sarasota County, FL

This is but the first of three stages of marked growth; Girls Inc. will announce additional affiliate expansions in early 2018 and again in 2019. By 2020, we will have invested an additional $14 million to directly support affiliate growth and successfully reached our goal of doubling the number of girls served.

We are excited to deepen our commitment to girls in our existing locations; and additionally, to share our impending expansion into a brand new market. Girls Inc. is proud announce the opening our first affiliate in Chicago. Beginning in the fall of 2017, Girls Inc. will be serving girls in the southside of Chicago, a community of extreme need, through dedicated space in the Martha M. Ruggles elementary school (K-8).

Your investments support a variety of positive outcomes: our critical direct services, which provides research-based, age-appropriate programming; as well as our advocacy initiatives, which drives key policies and legislation aiming provide equal opportunity for women and girls, no matter their background. We hope you take particular pride in our recent achievements; they are a credit to your generosity and would not have been possible without the encouragement and support of friends just like you.

We are honored to partner with you to continue our important work and our shared vision of real gender equality for a better, brighter future for girls everywhere.

Feb 10, 2017

Girls Inc. Update: Your Investment at Work

As a Girls Inc. investor, you know well that women and girls are still limited in our society: systemic barriers exist that interfere with true equality at every stage of their life.

Recent research reported by New York Times suggests our culture inadvertently endorses the awareness that intelligence is an inherently male characteristic. Disturbingly, this incorrect perception affects the attitudes of children from the tender age of 6 years old. By this stage, girls are already indoctrinated with the belief that their own brilliance is inferior to their male peers.

The damage is done in early childhood: girls internalize these messages, damaging their potential, changing their interests and impacting their future career choices.

The study presented children ages 5-7 with two stories about an unnamed protagonist of an unspecified gender. One character was referred to as “really, really smart” and the other was decidedly “really, really kind.” The young subjects were shown four pictures – two males and two females – and asked to guess which might be the protagonist from the stories. What is interesting, is that at age 5, boys and girls are equally likely to associate intelligence with their own gender. However, by age 6, most of the girls indicated that the “smart” person in the story must be male.

The findings of this study, while alarming, are not surprising: and that’s why we’re here. Researchers suggest that early and consistent mentoring and access to successful role models positively increases motivation and stimulates competitive intelligence in girls.

Your commitment to Girls Inc. ensures that our high-impact, research-based programming, educators, and mentors are able to intervene during critical stages of development: from childhood to adolescence. We work to combat the stereotypes and gender barriers, so that every girl grows up to be strong, smart, bold, and most importantly, to know that she is equal as a woman.

As a Girls Inc. donor, you make a significant investment in girls everywhere: to the girls we currently serve, and to the girls we plan to serve in the future through our current strategic plan. We’re proud to share that by March, up to twenty of our local affiliates will be embarking on an aggressive growth campaign. Within the next three years, more than $14 million from our Growth Capital Campaign will be disbursed directly back to those local affiliates that are ready to increase services, to the benefit of even more girls all across the country.

We are excited by this significant progress towards our goal of doubling the number of girls we serve by 2020. We are honored to count you as a partner in this much needed movement to build a better future for girls everywhere.

Together, we will work hard to ensure that no girl puts limits on her potential or aspirations because of her gender.

Warm regards,

Judy Vredenburgh

President & CEO

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