Educate, Empower, Employ: Our philosophy is grounded in the belief that it takes a holistic approach to make a real difference in the lives of girls. We achieve lasting results by engaging the entire family and community, making a girl’s education, health and safety of the utmost importance. We give girls the knowledge, resources, and self-confidence to be successful and disrupt the cycle of poverty.
How do we pick our girls?
When we began the girls group in January 2010, the pilot group of 15 girls were chosen by our founders based on previous work they had done in the community. From there it grew organically – as the girls began to attend regularly, they would bring their sisters, cousins and neighbors. We then realized that this was the best way to expand the enrollment. Siblings, cousins, neighbors and friends of girls who are already enrolled are grandfathered in as we slowly increase our numbers. Of the more than 100 girls that we work with, there are probably only about 35 families.
This approach works for a number of reasons:
- The more children from one household we can accept into the program, the less burden it is for the parents. For example if a family has 7 children and we take only the 15-year old girl, then they are missing out on an important laborer in the home. If we take the 15 year old girl and her 11 year old and 8 year old sister and a few of her cousins as well, then the family has less mouths to feed and is more likely to encourage the girls to show up as a group.
- The more tightly knit the group is, the more likely they will attend consistently.
- Taking girls from the same families, neighborhoods and social circles relieves some of the pressure from them. If all the girls in the family or on the block are in the same program then they don’t feel the pressure to be “the only one given the chance to make it”. This approach also makes it extremely effective for us to work with the families, neighbors, teachers and community members.
Offering wraparound services for girls and their families is the key to our success.
There is not one specific unlock that will work for every girl. Our solutions are community based, culturally relevant, individualized, strength based and family oriented. Comprehensive services that address multiple challenges across home, school and community including living environment, basic needs, safety and social, emotional, educational and cultural needs. We honor the individual in each of our girls and rather than forcing them to fit into existing programs and structures, we create a web of exploration, development and support that is flexibly arranged to meet the unique needs of that individual girl and her family. Our “whatever it takes” approach has at times been perceived as lack of focus, however we are intentional about everything that we do. The ultimate goal is success for the girls within the individual context of their families, their homes and their schools.