Bridging the Digital Divide for low-income girls
Especially here in the Silicon Valley, we think it's only right that the girls we serve have access to learning advantages which 21st Century information technology provides. Mobile IT devices, for example, make it easier than ever for girls to take digital information and lessons with them.
But with most of our girls' families being low-income or even below-poverty, they generally can't afford late-model desktop computers in the home, let alone mobile IT devices for their girls. Girls To Women seeks to bridge the 'digital divide' which exists for under-resourced community members by providing IT resources. We've upgraded our computer lab several times in our 9 years, and Girls To Women now has a dozen desktops and laptops, along with a WiFi system featuring wireless printers, cloud-based backup, and high-speed internet.
Thanks to a generous young donor and a savvy volunteer, we're about to expand IT capacity yet again.
Maureen, a retired librarian, already contributes her time and expertise to supporting girls' literacy. Maureen comes in every Tuesday for two hours, and works with each of our girls to develop individualized book lists that take into account their reading-levels and interests.
Meanwhile, Dani, the donor whom we mentioned, is showing philanthropic tendencies at a young age -- she's pledged all gifts from friends and family in honor of her upcoming Bat Mitsvah to Girls To Women! What this means is that we can afford to acquire enough Amazon Kindles so that every girl in our program can have one to use for as long as she's with us.
Maureen has responded by putting her digital librarian chops to work setting up a system where the girls can check-out e-books from local public libraries onto their Kindles. Girls can do this either when they visit the library, or remotely from libraries' websites -- convenient, quick, and easy (see weblink)! The light, portable digital format makes literature that much more accessible and "cooler." Given how popular IT devices are with young people and for that matter just about everyone these days, we think that this will be yet another effective tool for our academic support & literacy programming.
Moving from literacy to the arts, we're pleased to report that celebrated local working artist Judy Gittlesohn is once again leading individual and group arts activities for our girls. They look forward to the two-hour sessions which Judy leads each Wednesday. Judy has a real gift for nurturing arts appreciation and skills in young people, and we couldn't be happier to have her back this spring. The contributions of GlobalGiving donors help to make Judy's and other arts programming available for our girls, and thanks to you all for that -- in our view, hands-on arts education is so valuable for optimum emotional and creative growth of youth (see weblink).
On the arts tip, the 'Words of Wisdom' group arts project which our girls completed during Summer Session 2015 is now on display at Cafe Zoe in nearby Menlo Park. The display shows student artwork from young people ages 6-19, who participated in an international photography exchange, where they explored the meaning of wisdom and the impact it has on each of their lives. Through photography, creative writing and book making, students created self-portraits and their own words of wisdom to share with each other, their community, and young people from different cultures. Words of Wisdom is a collaboration between nonprofit youth development organizations Girls to Women, Streetside Stories, and One Bird.
While we're working on supporting girls' literacy and artistic development, we don't neglect the physical. Low-income communities like the one we serve are at higher-risk for health challenges brought on by substandard dietary and lifestyle choices, and perhaps even more so by limited access to healthy alternatives. We try to address that through a number of program elements ranging from vegetable gardening to healthy cooking and nutritional education, to movement and sports activities that make getting exercise fun. And just this March we completed our 5th Annual Mari Wright Community 5K Fun Run & Fitness Event at one of our local regional shoreline parks. The Fun Run culminates weeks of learning and activities around the benefits of fitness and healthy lifestyle.
Judging by the smiles on the faces of our girls, friends, family, and community participants, the message was enthusiastically received!!
Finally, we just learned that our Founder-Director Patricia Foster has been named the California Woman of the Year for our 24th State Assembly District. Thanks to Assemblymember Rich Gordon for the nomination, and -- if we do say so ourselves -- congratulations Pat and well-deserved too (see weblink)!
Exploring creative horizons
We teach about good nutrition by growing it onsite
Our 5th Annual community Fun Run takes off!