Our stellar new Program Coordinator Najwa Yasmeen
Once the dust of a lively Summer Session 2017 settled, we proceeded to gear-up for our School Year 2017-2018 program, which kicked off on August 21st. 'g2W' welcomed back many returning girls from Spring 2017 and Summer Session itself (there's generally about a 1/3rd retention of School Year participants in Summer Session), while introducing several new girls to the program. We also hired a new Group Activity Leader, Nadia, to whom the girls took with speed and ease.
One of the features of Fall Semester 2017's Academic Support was acquisition of a new generation of math and grammar primers and workbooks, along with renewed emphasis on a period of silent, self-directed literacy and math practice. Girls seemed to appreciate and thrive with a focused time where, after initial tutoring and assistance from staff, visiting specialists, and volunteers, a no-talking space for reading, writing, or math practice is provided. Girls reported that this kind of focus especially helped with math practice.
Low-income parents, many of whom have trouble with regular financial contributions, found other ways to contribute, for example by augmenting our nutritional support supplies with foods that meet the high standard for health and nutritional density that we have set. Thanks to all parents and your contributions, of whatever kind!
Speaking of contributions, you regular readers know that volunteers have always been a key part of our programming and hats off to all of them -- Karen, who leads healthy cooking classes; Cari & Katherine, who bring their vocal music program to the girls, and the indefatiguable Maureen, the Librarian Who Knows How (to connect girls with digital books via the San Mateo County Library System through the Kindles on-hand here at g2W).
Staff showed initiative in promoting the program using good old fashioned community outreach techniques -- posting flyers and notices in schools, libraries, clinics, and markets, and talking to parents one-on-one in likely public spaces. They found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, face-to-face engagement remains a highly effective way to generate genuine interest and to spread the word about our programming. We were delighted to have new participants recruited by this laudable staff efffort.
We're now back in-action after the long Holidays lull, and are most pleased to introduce our new Program Coordinator, Najwa Yasmeen (see photos). Najwa holds a Master of Arts degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Education (2015), and among other practical training was a 4th grade classroom teacher with the Oakland Unified School District for two years, where she also on the District's Instructional Leadership Team and Personnel Committe. She's also developed programming for A Black Education Network in San Jose. g2W is glad to have such an experienced and motivated new program leader like Najwa!
With Najwa's help, g2W is forming-up 3 new program elements, set to be rolled-out or piloted over the next six months:
1. Mother-Daughter Nutrition will be offered as an ongoing workshop series, sited at a range of local (more spacious than our own!) kitchens run by sister nonprofits (St. Francis Church Hall, Ecumenical Hunger Project), which will provide families with ideas for affordable, quick, and healthy meals using readily-available ingrediants. The importance of healthy nutrition cannot be overemphasized among low-income, cultural minority communities, where the risk of chronic diseases stemming from inadequate access or knowledge of same.
2. My Story, Your Story is a digital media arts and narrative series for high school girls facilitated by Ms. Van Nguyen-Stone, Founder and Director of our longtime collaborating arts group, Oakland-based Jomi-Jomi. Participants will learn from a set of visiting Bay Area artists recruited with Ms. Nguyen-Stone's assistance to use art in expressing their need for safe and healthy environments in which to grow, learn and have fun. The symbolic art they create will be showcased at the end of the 8-week program. The program is set to begin in April 2018 for a duration of 8 weeks. Girls to Women is developing partnerships with two nearby high schools to site the inaugural iteration of My Story, Your Story.
3. Standing on Her Shoulders will support our community's transition-age young women 18-24. The program is for single mothers, high-school non-completers, or recent collegiate graduates looking to get their feet under them. The program seeks to impart broad-spectrum emotional support, practical problem-solving, and access to further resources. Standing On Her Shoulders will feature: an ongoing series of guest speakers, roundtable discussions, mentorship from our community's women leaders, field trips, and social events to discuss topics like self-care and mental health, effective social skills development, employment-readiness, and financial planning, as well as strategies to address the current housing crisis. Through multi-generational conversations, Girls to Women hopes to provide girls with the life skills they need to succeed.
In short, there's never a dull moment at g2W. We feel that it is our mission and obligation to keep evolving our program for maximum relevance for girls, young women, and their families in a community which is changing rapidly -- demographically, economically, and socially. That said, let us be sure to mention that such work would be impossible without the engagement, of our generous, community-spirited institutional and individual donors and volunteers. Whether it is a check or the gift of time to lead an activity
Expression through the arts is key
Good nutrition through girls' cultural traditions