Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls

by Girls Inc.
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Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls
Bringing the Girls Inc. experience to more girls

As a freshman at Vanguard University on my way to becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner with support from two Girls Inc. National Scholarships, I am so grateful to Girls Inc. and supporters like you for helping me become the confident advocate and leader I am today. As a Latina, I want to help people in my community get the mental health support they need and deserve, just as Girls Inc. was there for me. I found my voice at Girls Inc., and I take that voice with me everywhere I go, from meetings with patients to Congress members.

I remember standing at the chalkboard in middle school math class and intentionally writing the wrong answer to a problem because I did not want to be the center of attention. I thought girls were not supposed to be good at math, and I wanted to blend in. As my grades dropped, I became ashamed. “Who is this girl?” I asked myself as I pointed out every single flaw I saw in the mirror.

When I joined Girls Inc. of Orange County’s Eureka! program in seventh grade, I found an environment where I could take off the mask I wore at school and be my true self. I was surrounded by a group of girls and mentors who accepted me even though we were all very different from each other and came from many backgrounds. The other girls became like sisters as we teamed up for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities, sang our lungs out, and made crafts. I’d only known these girls for days and it was as if we had known each other for years. Finally, I wasn’t alone.

It isn’t easy to be a teen girl. So many of us endure sexual harassment, body insecurities, racial prejudice, and other forms of discrimination. By the time I reached high school, I felt hopeless and exhausted from putting so much pressure on myself to look a certain way, to earn top grades, and to juggle many extracurricular activities. Even today as a first-generation college student, sometimes I question whether I belong. Throughout it all, Girls Inc. has been the support I rely on when I need somewhere to turn. If I’m ever having a bad day, I like to read through my jar of encouraging notes that my friends at Girls Inc. wrote to each other. We still keep in touch today.

Over the years as I got more involved with Girls Inc., I learned how to advocate for myself and others. I now know that when I use my voice and speak up for myself, I am speaking up for many. When my Girls Inc. affiliate held a Teen Town Hall to discuss issues facing teen girls with our community, I was too nervous to participate at first. With encouragement from my staff mentors, I got up the courage to speak, and I realized it wasn’t as scary as I had thought. Girls Inc. raised a spark in me.

When I joined the national Girls Inc. Teen Advocacy Council (TAC) last year, I met with members of Congress to call for more mental health resources in schools. We were proud to immediately convince one member of Congress to co-sponsor a bill. As many girls like me know, our mental health is crucial to our academic success. A lot of families don’t have the resources to get their daughters the mental health support they need, which is why spaces like Girls Inc. are so vital for us.

There are also cultural barriers and stigmas that prevent girls–especially girls of color–from seeking help, which inspired me to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I’m proud to have already completed my training as a Certified Nursing Assistant by the age of 18.

Girls and women have big and bright ideas, and when we have the support we need to be healthy, educated, and independent, we create change. It makes me feel hopeful to see so many women running for office and taking the lead in so many professions. Thanks to you, every day at Girls Inc., thousands of girls like me learn how to use our voices to ask for support and create change in our communities. We are going to be the future.

When you make a gift to Girls Inc. today, you can give the next generation of girls like me the opportunity to grow up strong, smart, and bold. Thank you.

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Our family fled war-torn Syria when we were eight, first moving to Egypt and then arriving in the United States when we were 13. As refugees, we often felt like outsiders at school. However, thanks to Girls Inc. and supporters like you, we found a supportive community where we were embraced for who we are and could share our cultural background.

Sisters Hala (left) and Zena (right)

We have always shared an interest in the medical fields, and Girls Inc.’s career exploration opportunities helped us decide to pursue careers in dentistry. This fall, we will attend Monterey Peninsula College and major in biological sciences as a pre-dental pathway, with the goal of one day earning Doctorates in Dental Medicine. We want to help alleviate the health issues of refugees and to treat patients in low-income communities.

Zena: Girls Inc. was a game changer. In the welcoming all-girls environment at Girls Inc., I felt engaged and encouraged to ask questions. Girls Inc. taught me that my voice is powerful and can inspire change.

Hala: At Girls Inc., I developed curiosity and a craving for independence that allowed me to set ambitious goals. I realized that being a woman is a blessing.

Thanks to your continued support, Girls Inc. is a game changer for us both, and for tens of thousands of other girls.


Zena & Hala
2021 Girls Inc. National Scholars

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As a student attending Girls Inc. of New York City’s programs at my high school, I dreamed of becoming a nurse like my aunt. My Girls Inc. experience—made possible by supporters like you—affirmed that all girls are strong, smart, and bold. Twenty years later, I’m proud and grateful to be a Nurse Practitioner on my way to earning my doctorate in nursing while helping with the COVID-19 response.

Thanks to scholarships from Girls Inc. and Syracuse University, I was the first in my family to go to college. My mom and grandma worked extremely hard to provide for our family, and I like to think I inherited their go-getter attitudes. For example, I went back to school for my Masters of Science in Nursing from New York University while working 12-hour hospital shifts and planning my wedding. 

When the pandemic hit New York City last year, I was assigned to a unit for patients who needed either palliative or rehabilitative care. This combination meant that, alongside the grief of delivering painful news to families, I also cried happy tears with our recovering patients as they regained the ability to eat, walk, and reunite with their loved ones. We held ribbon-cuttings each time a patient went home. 

Nothing could have prepared my colleagues and me for the past year’s losses, but as medical professionals, we relied on our training in collaboration and leadership to care for our patients. To prepare the next generation for tomorrow’s challenges, we need to invest in their leadership capacity. It is vital that girls who dream of going into healthcare—or any field—have the skills and mentoring relationships that Girls Inc. builds. Thank you for making this possible through your ongoing support of Girls Inc.

To the next generations of Girls Inc. girls: never let someone else set limits on who you can become and never give up on your dreams. To our loyal supporters like you, I want to say thank you for believing in us, and for helping Girls Inc. inspire us to believe in ourselves.




Nurse Practitioner

Girls Inc. National Scholar & Alumna

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Thanks to your support, Girls Inc. works hard every day to elevate the voices of girls, to bring their needs to the attention of policy makers, and to tackle the societal barriers that stand in the way of their success.

Not only do we advocate on behalf of girls, but we also give girls opportunities to discover their voices and lead advocacy efforts in their own communities. We help girls identify the issues they care about most, research possible solutions, and take steps to make their vision a reality. 

This summer, a group of Girls Inc. girls and alumnae in Carpinteria, CA petitioned to make their high school’s curriculum more inclusive and culturally diverse. Despite some initial resistance, the girls persisted and convinced the school board to approve a new ethnic literature course. Ana, a Girls Inc. of Carpinteria alumna and National Scholar, said: “I grew up for 12 years with Girls Inc., and I now see myself using the advocacy skills that I learned throughout my time there.”

Learning to identify and advocate for their views and their communities is not unique to the girls in Carpinteria—it’s an essential part of something we call the Girls Inc. Experience. In fact, the American Institutes for Research recently found that Girls Inc. girls are more likely than their peers to exhibit strong leadership skills and see themselves as leaders, to believe in their ability to contribute in their community, and to stand up for fairness and their own beliefs.

As a young woman, I went to law school because I wanted to make the world a better place. What I find so gratifying about my work at Girls Inc. is the opportunity to advocate for policy and culture change while also inspiring the next generation of leaders and helping them to be civically engaged.

When you support Girls Inc., you are investing in girls’ potential to advance change for themselves, their peers, and future generations of girls. I urge you to make a gift today. With your support, Girls Inc. will continue to advocate for girls and strengthen their capacity to lead. This is what holds the greatest potential for long-term change.


Lara S. Kaufmann, J.D.

Director of Public Policy

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Dear Friend,

I’m proud to introduce you to one of this year’s National Scholars, Paola, whose personal essay is attached. In her story, I hope that you will recognize the many ways in which your investment in Girls Inc. translates into evidence-based programs that help girls like Paola develop confidence, define their voices, pursue their academic and career interests, and become advocates in their communities.

This year, 1,173 girls across the Girls Inc. network graduated from high school, and 84 percent are starting college right away. Their achievements are a testament to their hard work and dedication. They also speak to the commitment of Girls Inc. staff and the support girls have received from their families and their communities—including you. Whether these girls are headed to college or taking another path, I know they will fulfill all of the incredible promise that they represent.

While this year’s graduates face a far different future than any of us expected, I believe that they are well equipped to take on the challenges that lay ahead. A recent two-year study by the American Institutes of Research found that, compared to their peers, Girls Inc. girls are more engaged, curious, and self-assured in academic areas and are better prepared for their next steps after high school.

Thanks to your loyal support, Girls Inc. is able to prepare more girls for success in K–12 and beyond. I am deeply grateful for your confidence in Girls Inc., and I look forward to working with you to continue transforming the lives and futures of girls across the U.S. and Canada.

Best wishes,

Stephanie J. Hull, Ph.D.

President and CEO

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Girls Inc.

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @girls_inc
Project Leader:
Hannah Hawley
New York, NY United States
$10,340 raised of $25,000 goal
208 donations
$14,660 to go
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