By: Dena Herrin, Executive Director, Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey

Girls Inc. is a national organization with a network of 84 affiliates across the U.S. and Canada. We are in 350 cities and over 1,200 sites serving girls 5-18 years old. The Girls Inc. network serves over 160,000 girls annually. Our Girls Inc. affiliate serves over 3,000 girls in our region annually. Over 80% of our participants live in low-income communities and 90% self-identify as minority.

Our mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. We focus on the development of the whole girl. She learns to value herself, take healthy risks, and discover her inherent strengths so that she is equipped to navigate barriers, and will grow up healthy, educated, and independent. We achieve this through our three core elements: the people, the environment, and the programs. The people are our trained staff and volunteers who build lasting, mentoring relationships. The environment we create is a girls-only, pro-girl safe space. The programs we deliver are research-based and outcomes tested, engaging the girls through hands-on and minds-on activities that address the unique issues impacting girls today.

The programs we deliver support our Strong, Smart, and Bold outcomes goals.  Strong programs focus on healthy decision making. Our smart programs focus on academic enrichment through STEM, economic literacy, and early grade literacy. Our bold programs focus on leadership, social emotional learning and life skills instruction. You can read more about our programs on our website www.girlsincpa-nj.org  . We also provide extensive and diverse career exploration opportunities to introduce girls to a range of career options and professionals.

The work we do is transformative, but let’s be clear about why Girls Inc. is so important. We live in complicated times, which are particularly complicated for girls. Let me share a few statistics that highlight their challenges.

  • 64% of 3rd grade girls in Philadelphia are reading below grade-level. 
  • 78% of girls under 17 are unhappy with their bodies. 
  • 1 in 5 girls will be victims of childhood sexual abuse. 
  • 1 in 4 girls will not finish high school. 
  • 3 in 10 girls will become pregnant before the age of 20. 

Despite the alarming statistics, we know that, because of the work we do, our girls are beating the odds. Outcomes measurement is very important to us, and we use a variety of tools to measure progress in content acquisition and attitudes. One of those tools is the Strong, Smart, and Bold Outcomes Measurement Survey that was designed by Girls Inc national in partnership with Child Trends, a leading youth research organization. I’m excited to share a few of those results from the 2018 survey.

  • 89% of Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey girls plan to attend college.
  • 98% girls report that they learn to make a difference in the world at Girls Inc. 
  • 90% feel that getting pregnant would interfere with school 
  • 86% find science fun and interesting 
  • 97% think it is important to know how to manage their money well 

Our girls need you in their corner.  You can support our advocacy work to create a more equitable environment for girls. You can volunteer as mentors or host a career exploration program and you can donate financially so that we can continue to offer life changing programs, to the girls who need them most.