Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad

by Global Girls Inc.
Play Video
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Girls voices matter in Chicago and abroad
Past summer showcase performance
Past summer showcase performance

As the world reopens from COVID shutdown, Global Girls is gearing up for a full summer of programs, new performances and new partnerships. Our yearlong “In Person Virtual School” initiative serviced 55 youth between September 8, 2020, when Chicago Public Schools began virtual classes, and June 4, 2021, after staff, parents and the youth decided to shut down operations. The school year officially ends June 18.

Many of our youth will join girls from all over the Chicago area and a few from surrounding suburbs for the 9th Annual Youth Performance Camp. Girls ages 4 to 14 learn social emotional skills, dance, acting, singing and have a wonderful time making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Thankfully, with our entire team vaccinated as well as many of our older youth, we will have a full camp. As in prior years, the seven week, five days a week program will culminate in a spectacular finale where youth present to family and friends all the skills learned throughout the summer. Two camp highlights are the Power Lunch bringing together professionals from a variety of fields with our youth to expose them to a plethora of career options. The second initiative is our Beauty in the Community campaign where youth and community members select parks, streets, alleys, lots to clean and ask residents to pledge to keep those areas litter free. This year, we’ll debut the Youth Short Film Festival. Our girls love creating videos on their phone. So rather than ask them to use phones during camp hours, we’ll incorporate the technology. Film and media production students from Chicago State University will teach video units and help with final projects.

The adult performance program finale returns in August starting with acting and dance classes for members of our south side community. The first production is entitled “In This House” a look at how five families endured or managed the COVID lockdown as well as the lasting impacts.

Lastly, it is time to travel again!!! We’ve partnered with MuDa Africa, a performance group for young women and men in Tanzania doing similar work to what we do here in Chicago. Thanks to our alliance with Chicago Peace Fellows and one fellow in particular, Yusuph Masanja, who facilitated the introduction, six of the older performers will travel to Dar Es a Lam in February 2022 to learn their dance techniques and share a bit of ours. We are thrilled to connect with another group from the diaspora and to once again, expand our Global network. Check out MuDa African’s work. A contingent of adults will join us after studying the Global Girls methodology and becoming official Ambassadors for transformation through the arts. But first, everyone must take the vaccine!

Summer Camp before COVID
Summer Camp before COVID
Summer Camp 2020
Summer Camp 2020


Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

In the midst of the work is the work. You start with a bit of a plan that morphs and bends and even bleeds over into the next plan. If you stop too long to perfect everything, before trying to make something, you might end up with nothing.

And that’s how Global Girls was born. I had one desire, but no idea how to make a dream come true. I wanted every girl to have a taste of life’s possibilities.

Whether dancing, acting, engaging in conversation, creating a show or working with youth in other countries, each girl was expected to do her personal best and then work to exceed it.

The roads were sometime bumpy, but we never faltered. We always knew royal winds lifted us higher and higher above the mendacity of mediocre crowds.

To our magical mothers who cupped our cheeks, smiled into our eyes, and radiated a protective layer of courage up and down our spines, to the African ancestors whose spirits resonate in every beat of every soul-stirring hymn, to the tenacious teachers who prod and poke and produce, thank you. We fearless Global Girls women will continue the legacy and make you proud.

The current crop of dancers and actors took the stage Saturday, January 23rd with only nine in-house guests but many more virtual followers on Instagram and Facebook Lives. They we thrilled to dance, perform and simply talk about their experiences as Global Girls. Later, we had cake and the food they liked. It was a lovely 21st Anniversary celebration.



The anniversary celebration was great and so much fun because I got to see other Global Girls like Aria and Amora. All our hard work paid off. It was great seeing the audience watching Brighter Days and Overture and Hamilton. I love all my global girls.  All the rehearsals and pressure were worth it. 


The anniversary was fun because we were taking a lot of pictures and we were making jokes and having a good time. Doing the old dances brought back so many memories. It was funny that we were teaching the dances to the parents. Talking to my friends and eating cake were my favorite parts. Some of the old Globes came which was great making jokes with them. They made me more confident when I was dancing. I was scared and felt like I was messing up on every dance, but I wasn't. I felt like I could do anything which gave me a lot of confidence which I like because now I know I have real friends and real sisters. When we were done, I was so tired that I felt like I was going to pass out. They said it was a good thing because that means we worked hard. I think everyone did a great job because we were out of breath. When we were doing the dances, we had a lot of energy which was good because the crowd was cheering us on and right with us.


My experience at the 21st anniversary was pretty good. I loved all the dances. We took pictures with some of the old globes and signed the banner about how we feel about global girls. I really enjoyed all of it. Global Girls is a performing arts organization, and I love everything about it. The performing - we make it work even with COVID. We stay socially distant.  I can't wait for the next performance. 


The anniversary for me was fun. I liked all the performances and when Ms. Ryonn showed the videos of us from years ago. I also enjoyed that we got to see the older Globes that came before us . I loved when Ms. Penn talked about the students she had before us. I enjoyed the after party. I was surprised when Ms. Penn gave us fried food because we usually only get healthy food. Another thing I enjoyed was doing Brighter Days when the audience was into it and hyping us up. They really enjoyed itg. 


The 21st anniversary was really good. I was happy to see some of the old globes that came. It was fun to perform, and it was funny teaching the Rice sisters one of the dances. They did not know how funny it was seeing them trying so hard. They were really into it. It was also fun to perform with Victoria and Miciah. We still got to have an anniversary and enjoy it with being socially distanced and with everyone wearing their masks. 


My experience was fun because this was my first year here, and I learned a lot about Global Girls. Rehearsals were fun but hard at the same time because it was tiring. I tried not to get cut at the same time. We taught some of the older Globes a dance, and they learned pretty quick, so that was fun.


I loved the anniversary! We saw the old girls. We had cake, food. We wrote our names on the board. We learned new dances and we acted. Ms.Ryonn showed us videos. 


The anniversary was awesome. It was fun because some of the old Global Girls were there and we taught them dances. They were hard but I still pushed through it. My parents came and cheered us on with everything. I liked that we were fearless girls that day, and we had the shirts to represent that.


Attachments: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Our bodies might be confined to home, local and country borders, but are minds and souls are free to wander. And so, we dream, we plan and we create fundraisers to support our next international arts exchange endeavor. Next stop, Djibouti,in east Africa. A family friend and former middle school principal now lives there, works in a school and has inviated Global Girls to come and engage her female students in creating their own show about their girl-focused issues. YES! A team of 12 girls ages 14 to 22 are learning about the country, learning the "Stories on Stage" curriculum and practicing their peer facilitation/mentoring skills.

15 year old Mariama has been homeschooled most of her life and only attended public school for one semester. Her only social outlet is Global Girls' afterschool program. When we told her she would be taking the trip with us, she jumped from her seat and danced around the entire studio. "Oh my!! I can't believe this is happening to me. I heard to the stories from older girls who travelled to India or Ghana, Grenada and Kenya and prayed that one day I too would get my passport and board a plane for the first time. Now, I feel like crying cause it's actually gonna happen! Thank you, Global Girls, thank you so, so, so, so very much!"

The other 11 girls were just as excited and wrote as passionately. Their stories will appear in our January newsletter.

In the meantime, our work continues in Chicago with a daytime school at our location for parents who work and can't leave their children home alone, online. The afterschool program, maksed and socially-distanced roles on. Our new media room will soon be up and running where we weill produce a bi-weekly TV show for girls by girls and our teen podcast will debut the first week in November.

Yep, COVID and all, here at Global Girls, we find ways of carrying on the work by "keeping the main thing, the main thing."


Attachments: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Casina and her sisters as adults
Casina and her sisters as adults

Global Girls is located on the south east side of Chicago on the border between South Shore and South Chicago. The staff, majority of the board and volunteer pool are African American and also live in the area. The target population is girls, and a few guys who through no fault of their own live in arts-starved communities. Global Girls Global Theatre Collaborative is unique because it is intentionally based in the heart of the black community and dedicated exclusively to exploring local stories of everyday people, staging and preserving those stories. We also know that there is untapped, unrealized talent in the community and are committed to mining blocks, schools, churches and community groups to find it. We train that raw talent and put it on stage. Magic happens once the houselights fade and stage lights come up. Fears flee, voices sing, and feelings roam free. People are unleashed andhat can never return to the way they were. We hear actor testimonies at the end of every run. That gives the team energy and inspiration to get up and do it all over again. The adult theatre’s niche is grounded in our motto “Theatre of the people, by the people and for the children of our people.”

Because of the COVID 19, we have had to move all programming online as the facility is closed, schools are closed and our partner organizations are closed. All staff had to ramp up our skills to use the online resources. We also had to divert funds to purchase equipment, software and services.

Luckily, we had a bit of reserves to get us through the initial period. Now, we are writing proposals every day. We're also creating online programming (classes, webinars and closed discussion groups) to generate revenue. Understanding that everyone is stressed by the crisis, we've been reluctant to appeal directly to individual donors. We have a series of social distanced, outdoor, community building gatherings planned when things open up hoping people will be ready to join us and support Global Girls in the process.

Our team, board, parents, volunteers and especially the girls have worked hard during our 20-year history to render Global Girls a trusted institution in our community. There are many successful young women who were once program participants who thank us for the values our program instilled in them. One is Casina Rice, and this is a snippet from her story:

At the end of what seemed a normal school day, my life changed forever. My parents didn’t come for me and my three sisters. They never came, and we eventually were sent to live with my grandparents who were like strangers to us. A few weeks later, they discovered Global Girls and began taking us to the sessions every Saturday. While I feared abandonment at home, Global Girls made me feel like I belonged. The adults made a big deal about me and helped me see my strengths. Global Girls is an environment that liberates girls - where its cool to be different. I’m 28 and even though my degree is in psychology, I chose carpentry as my profession. I'm an amazing carpenter, and, thanks to Global Girls who took me on my first international trip to Ghana, a committed citizen of the world.


Like Casina, there are many girls and women in our community with rich stories of resilience. Global Girls is finding, recording and sharing those stories as we inspire generations of women to learn, lead and succeed.

Girls practice mindfulness at sunrise
Girls practice mindfulness at sunrise
Girls pose prior to a performance
Girls pose prior to a performance
Youth take the stage!
Youth take the stage!


Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
20th Anniversary in local media
20th Anniversary in local media

“The performing arts is my life now because of the experiences I had in Global Girls.” Ava is a senior at the University of Minnesota majoring in musical theatre. She spent a summer studying at the Globe Theatre in England and won the lead role in Henry IV.

“It (Global Girls) was a different kind of feeling when you were there – the way it was run, the values they set, how we could ask pretty much anything and get the information we needed. The girls who were a part of it were so great. …we were sisters.” Prosper is a speech pathologist working in the Atlanta Public School system and interested in starting a Global Girls group there.

As Global Girls, Inc. continues  the 20-year providing arts education and performance opportunities/experiences for African American girls, we are critically examining what we do, how we do it and the long term impact on participants. While the staff and board knows that Global Girls is a vital contributor to the artistic life blood of Chicago’s South Side, has an international reach and stages stories that have the power to heal and build bridges between generations, we also know we need the numbers and data to show it.

 Currently, impact is measured in terms of:

  • 20,000 girls and young women served.
  • 70,000 audience members reached.
  • The average length of time a participant remains in our program is five years.
  • 100% of their girls graduate high school and 90% go on to college.
  • 85% of the staff are adults who grew up in the program.

The key research questions were: 

  • Why does Global Girls have such high retention rates?
  • What are the long-term impacts of Global Girls’ programming for youth who have grown up in and grown beyond the program?
  • What are the program elements that are most impacting?

In order to find out, the consultant conducted a focus group with the team to create survey and interview questions. Then the team collected 72 surveys from school-based program participants and conducted interviews with Legacy Global Girls (girls who were in the program for five years or more). The team worked together to analyze and interpret the data.

72 current school based Global Girls participants completed the survey. Findings include:

  • 93% were encouraged to take on leadership roles.
  • 99% Global Girls has helped me get comfortable working in groups.
  • 100% Global Girls appreciate other people’s ideas.
  • 100% Global Girls helped me stay present.
  • 99% Felt like they were part of a sisterhood.
  • 90% Would encourage other girls to join Global Girls,

A focus group and interview data reveal that Global Girls is highly impactful as an organization because the programs are founded on the following values:

  • Rigor/ Discipline
  • Safety
  • Leadership Development
  • A strong sense of BELONGING
  • Developing strong mentorship by and for women
  • Practicing cascading level leadership
  • Building and exercising youth resilience
  • Teaching critical thinking which leads to an expanded worldview

Interviews with Legacy Global Girls (program participants of 5 years or longer) are indicating that they are currently:                    

  • Using skill sets developed during their time at Global Girls in their professional lives today.
  • Using the communication skills (being impeccable with their words) that they learned at Global Girls today.
  • Have become lifelong learners as a result of their time at Global Girls.
  • Are creative and innovative people who have the capacity to think on their feet as a result of Global Girls.
  • Have developed resilience, discipline and dedication as a result of their time in Global Girls.
  • Have become leaders at their universities, in their sororities, campus organizations and in their jobs as a result of the skills they learned and practiced at Global Girls.
  • Have become Global Citizens who are concerned with the world beyond themselves as a result of what they learned in Global Girls.

Quotes from Legacy interviews

“We knew it was never just about us. We were representing Global Girls and what we did in public represented something bigger than just us.” Damane, age 26

“It saved me you know. Like it gave me so much hope. I’ve missed Global Girls so much because you really can’t find what we had out here in these streets. I mean I had a sisterhood. It was like a habit. I could say what I wanted to say. I could be weird. I could be quirky. I didn’t even have to say anything. We would just put on music and dance.” Ava, age 21

“Sometimes we would perform and afterwards lead conversations with girls and half the time we were the same age, maybe younger. It was really interesting to learn how to navigate tough conversations with your peers.” Christina, age 25

“We would do these shows for girls who were 13, 14, 15 years old and they would come up to us afer crying being like, ‘I really related to that.’ It was a beautiful thing.” Nailah age 24

Global Girls participants on stage
Global Girls participants on stage
Work in school program
Work in school program


Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Global Girls Inc.

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @1globalgirlsinc
Project Leader:
Marvinetta Woodley-Penn
Chicago, IL United States
$15,389 raised of $20,000 goal
366 donations
$4,611 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Global Girls Inc. has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.