Sources include a LinkedIn article by Girls Inc.'s President & CEO, Stephanie J. Hull, Ph.D. and a recent proposal.
For more than 150 years, Girls Inc. has worked with girls from some of the most vulnerable demographics, including girls of color and girls who face poverty and other forms of injustice. In fact, Girls Inc. was there for girls whose lives were forever changed by the high mortality rate of the Spanish flu from 1918 to 1920. We made sure that girls who lost family members had the support and tools to lead fulfilling, productive lives.
A century later, we face another global pandemic. We are working to meet the immediate needs of girls and their families. We are also making sure that girls have the tools to cope with the emotional and educational impacts of this crisis, and to emerge as leaders in helping their communities rebuild.
Meeting Girls’ Material Needs
Across the U.S. and Canada, our 79 affiliates are adapting to ensure continuity and agility in the way they serve girls. They have converted in-person learning environments to virtual platforms, coordinated the distribution of food and personal care products, set up emergency childcare for frontline responders, and much more. They are checking in with their girls regularly, providing stability, reassurance, and normalcy.
Stemming Learning Loss
Reading at grade level by the third grade is a critical benchmark in a child’s development, predictive of high school graduation and success later in life. Literacy programming will be more vital than ever as affiliates work to tackle the learning loss that will inevitably follow from school closures. Girls Inc. will build on several years’ momentum by providing affiliates with virtual support to implement quality literacy programming, providing virtual literacy support directly to girls, and continuing to build relationships with schools to reach girls who can benefit from Girls Inc. literacy programming.
Strengthening Trauma-Informed Services
Because the girls we serve are disproportionately negatively affected by COVID-19, Girls Inc. has committed to reinforcing our trauma-informed approach. We are developing resources to support girls who may have lost family members, sheltered in abusive households, suffered food insecurity, or experienced any number of other traumas. Trauma-informed approaches are not designed to treat the effects of trauma, but rather to observe key principles to promote an environment that is responsive to the needs of those affected by trauma. They seek to prevent re-traumatization and to promote recovery and resiliency through trauma-informed service delivery.
Building Girls’ Leadership Capacities
A recent Forbes piece highlighted the correlation between countries succeeding in managing COVID-19 and countries led by women—just one among many arguments for promoting a new generation of women leaders. Many of the girls who will grow up to fill these key roles are girls of color, living with poverty and injustice.
Girls Inc. is also continuing to advocate with girls and communities for legislation that will help them right now. Advocacy will continue to be crucial as Girls Inc. works to help girls become more civically engaged in an election year, to elevate their voices and strengthen their capacities to lead.
Girls Inc. believes that every girl we work with, and every choice she makes, has the potential to change the world. As one Girls Inc. alumna put it, “little waves in the ocean caused by young people's movements will add up in momentum and cause something worth recognition.” That is true of your support, too. Thank you for recognizing girls’ leadership potential, and helping them to become the leaders they were born to be.