FROM THE GIRLS OF GIRLS INC
Editor's note: The motto of Girls Inc. is "inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold." Therefore, it seems only appropriate to let the girls themselves be the ones to introduce you, our Daily Do Good readers, to this amazing organization.
Milan, 12 years old
7th grade, 1st year in Girls Inc.
Favorite school subject: Math. "I'm not good at it, but I still like to learn."
Likes: Breathing -- "I love life!" -- eating, reading, watching TV
Favorite food: Mashed potatoes
Favorite book: "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green
Favorite TV show: "Boy Meets World"
Janae, 11 years old
6th grade, first year in Girls Inc.
Favorite school subject: Math
Likes: Writing, talking, jumping rope, drawing
Aspirations: Wants to be a veterinarian and open an animal rescue
Nikyia & Skylar, both 13 years old
Favorite school subject: (Nikyia) Math. "I like challenges with numbers." (Skylar) Social studies. "I like learning about what happened before we were here."
Likes: (Nikyia) Dance, cheering, helping her friends with their problems. (Skylar) Art, drawing, soccer
A GIRLS INC ALUMNA IN DC
From 2007 - 2010, Morgan McDaniel was a Girls Inc participant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After graduating from the University of Memphis in 2014, Morgan moved to DC, where she is the assistant director of the Mosaic Center & Education Services at the American Advertising Foundation.
Morgan shared how Girls Inc. has shaped her as a young woman.
What are some of your fondest memories of your time in Girls Inc?
Some of my fondest Girls Inc. memories were participating in our Leadership Team. We planned community events, had ACT prep, helped one another with homework, and overall created a strong sisterhood. I also enjoyed being invited to come back my freshman year of college to speak to middle school girls of the local community about body image, relationships and college prep. It was so rewarding to share my experiences with girls in hopes that they wouldn't feel alone about what they were going through. It inspired me to be a mentor!
How did Girls Inc affect the path you've taken so far?
The director of teen programs read some of my short stories and encouraged me to apply to a Girls Inc. national scholarship. I was super shy and felt like out of all the girls applying, I wasn't good enough to be chosen. Was I wrong! Tracy (the director) had me write and write, and she edited and critiqued six of my drafts. I ended up winning a $2,500 scholarship which I split over the four years of my college career. I was super ecstatic.
What did you learn in Girls Inc that you continue to apply to your life and your work?
I learned how to be a leader, honestly. It taught me to have confidence in myself. It taught me how to be a president of an organization. It inspired me to keep pushing and have perseverance.
What did you learn about yourself in Girls Inc?
I learned (as cliche as it might sound) I can do anything I put my mind to. I have the ability to be great. I graduated magna cum laude from the University of Memphis, and I got a job in DC straight out of college. If it wasn't for Girls Inc. while I was in high school, I would be so far behind. I don't think I would've had the confidence to do anything and be involved in college. I also learned about my passion to mentor younger girls. Sharing my experiences with others invigorates me.
What message would you like to send to the girls of Girls Inc DC?
I would tell Girls Inc. DC girls to stay motivated and they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to. There is so much out there. You just need dreams, a vision and determination.
GIRLS INC: PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Girls are stronger than…
Girls are bolder than…
Girls are greater than…
These words are written across large sheets of newsprint taped to the wall. Beneath them, the girls of Girls Inc DC , ages 11-16, have written words like “gossip,” “haters,” “bullying,” “sexism,” “stereotypes” and many others.
“Programs like Girls Inc provide girls with a support system, and opportunity to expand their vision, to know they are worthy, they are smart, they have ideas, and that they can shape ideas into their goals,” said Denese Lombardi, executive director of Girls Inc DC. “With the help of their peer network and staff, they can acquire the skills to reach those goals.”
Such programs are particularly vital in the metro DC area, where one in ten girls do not graduate high school and more than 64,000 adults lack a high school diploma, according to the Washington Area Women’s Foundation.
For these reasons, and many more, Girls Inc DC emphasizes a strong focus on education and career goals, with a particular focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) topics, business and financial literacy.
“We make sure there are lots of positive attitudes and we try to create a positive atmosphere,” said programming coordinator Christina Parrish. “We provide mentoring so the girls can see women who look like them being successful.”
Denese, Christina and their colleagues make sure the girls have plenty of role models, from Howard University student mentors to female executives at companies such as Lockheed Martin, NASA, Sysco and Booz-Allen.
Girls Inc enjoys a partnership with Lockheed Martin to encourage girls to pursue a STEM-strong education. The SHE-E- O program provides opportunities to visit major companies and speak with women in positions of leadership, who may become mentors as the girls pursue their education and begin to map out career goals.
“We want to have our girls see women in these places,” said Denese, “particularly in our case, women of color, who are few and far between in the STEM fields.”
At present, the majority of Girls Inc DC students come from the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science, with others coming from schools including E.L. Haynes Middle School, Banneker High School, Eastern High School,
SEED Public Charter School, and Two Rivers Public Charter School. A major part of the 3-year plan, Denese and Christina said, is to expand the Girls Inc DC body to include students from more schools east of the river to provide more girls in the city access to everything Girls Inc has to offer.
“We are creating women who are healthy, educated and independent,” said Christina. “There is a need for programs to encourage women to take their place. There is a huge disparity in the treatment of women in our country and other countries. It's about bringing us up to human level. A girl-only, pro-girl environment is important."