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learn / 2021

Strong, Smart & Bold Girls Change the World

Strong, Smart & Bold Girls Change the World Play Video Play Video Play video on app.criticalmention.com

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Girls Inc. of Greater Los Angeles

When girls are given the tools and opportunities to succeed, they not only change their own circumstances, they change the circumstances of those around them. Girls Inc. of Greater Los Angeles empowers girls in low-income, under-resourced communities to navigate and overcome gender and socio-economic barriers to their success. Our combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, pro-girl environment and research-based curriculum sets girls on the track for life-long success and develops them into the strong, smart and bold leaders LA needs.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

While all girls face gender-based and other inequities that may lead to marginalization, our target population faces multiple, intersectional challenges. The students we serve are mostly (93%+) from low-income or very low-income households in South/Central Los Angeles, Watts, Lennox and surrounding areas. Approximately 75% of students attending these schools identify as Hispanic/Latina and 21% identify as Black/African American. Youth in these areas must overcome a myriad of systemic barriers to success, including poverty, food insecurity, racism and homelessness. They contend with higher crime rates, more gang activity and fewer amenities than peers in higher-income communities. One GIGLA participant said: “Growing up in South Central you are expected not to succeed, to be another statistic and remain in the slumps.” We work to ensure girls attain the skills, knowledge and support needed to write their own futures, guided by their aspirations, not determined by their circumstances.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Our combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, pro-girl environment and research-based curriculum equips girls in low-income, underserved communities to navigate and overcome gender and socio-economic barriers to their success. Girls Inc. delivers programs to girls in grades K-12 that make a significant impact on numerous areas of their lives, from social skills to college prep. Skilled program leaders, many of whom come from the communities in which they teach, deliver educational enrichment curriculum during the school day, lunch and/or after-school organized around 3 themes: STRONG: Girls learn to enjoy physical activity, embrace positive body image and develop healthy, nourishing nutrition habits, while delaying substance abuse and risky sexual activity. SMART: Girls increase their love of learning, improve academic performance, explore careers in STEM and non-traditional careers and plan for high school graduation and post-secondary education. BOLD: Girls build invaluable life skills from financial savvy to healthy relationship practices. They set and achieve goals and develop resilience in the face of obstacles. Due to COVID-19, we moved to virtual classrooms to reach girls at home. In addition to our regular programming, we provide much-needed emotional support to our girls as they process the impact of the pandemic on their lives and adapt to the new normal. When our girls eventually return to regular classrooms, we will continue to be there for them.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

1,800
Direct impact
325
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

A 2-year study by The American Institutes for Research (AIR) shows that Girls Inc. girls stand out as leaders across multiple indicators, exhibiting the skills, attitudes and capabilities to influence and improve their communities. According to the AIR study, Girls Inc. girls showed significant advantage over their peers in 20 impact areas, including: • Performance on standardized math tests • Postsecondary readiness and confidence • Belief in ability to do challenging math, reading and science • Interest in a STEM job • Strong leadership skills • Belief in ability to contribute to their community • Willingness to stand up for fairness and their own beliefs The study provides evidence that Girls Inc. changes the trajectory of girls’ lives and sets them up for lifelong success. Girls are innately powerful. They are the strong, smart and bold leaders LA needs. When girls are given the tools and opportunities to succeed, they not only change their own circumstances, they change the world.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We use three primary modes to track the impact and success of our programming. We collect quantitative and qualitative data through pre- and post-program assessments. We track member attendance and program outputs, and we participate in the annual Girls Inc. national Strong, Smart, Bold Outcomes Survey (SSBOS), measuring attitudes, dietary habits, activity levels, academic interest, diligence and investment. Girls also self-report their grades each year, which gives us another data point. Our most recent SSBOS results provided these data points: 60% of Girls Inc. L.A. girls report they finish all their homework all the time, while another 28% finish all of it most of the time; 70% said they will definitely or probably go to graduate school to get a Masters, Medical Degree, Law Degree, or Doctorate when asked how far they think they’ll go in school; 76% of girls said even when they get bad grades, they don’t ever give up; and 94% agreed that they think science is fun and interesting.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • Enrollment in afterschool programs
  • College matriculation
  • High school graduation rates