Tag Archives: girls empowerment

Girls Inc.: Changing the World Through Girl Power!

Go Inspire Go is proud to present this month’s Social Good Spotlight to raise awareness of organizations doing good in their communities in order to inspire others to take action and ultimately make real social change. For more information and to read past Social Good Spotlights, click here.

Compiled by Toan Lam and Koshi Sandrasagra

What is Girls Incorporated (Girls Inc.)?

Girls Incorporated is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire all girls to be strong (through healthy living), smart (through education) and bold (through independence). Founded in 1958, Girls Inc. offers academic enrichment activities, skill-building programs and counseling services to girls and their families.

girls+powGirls Inc. of Alameda County provides year-round academic achievement and skills-building programs, as well as counseling services to more than 7,500 girls and families.

Girls Inc. believes that generations are transformed when girls are equipped with knowledge, information and confidence. Girls ages 5-18 are engaged in a continuum of award-winning programs, developing the essential skills and tools they need for college, career and life success.

How does it work?

The process: Girls Inc. begins with teaching the foundations of literacy and they support girls developmentally with each milestone along the way. This includes focus on academic achievement, positive risk taking, health and fitness, advocacy, leadership and more. The organization is unique in that they focus on serving the whole girl and her family as well, by providing on-site mental health counseling among all of the other programs offered. Their nationally-developed programs are the result of studies conducted by the Girls Incorporated National Resource Center – the largest and most comprehensive research center on girls in the country.

Spotlight on Major Accomplishments (to name just a few!):

  • 100 percent of Girls Inc. seniors graduate from high school (compared to less than 60 percent of their peers) and in the last five years, 98.2 percent of seniors have enrolled in college (most of whom are the first in their families to do so).
  • More than 1,500 girls across the country have participated in technology and literacy curricula initially developed by Girls Inc. of Alameda County.
  • Named by the Clinton Global Initiative as one of the 13 programs that “will improve the lives of girls and women around the world.”
  • Received the United Nation’s East Bay’s 6th Annual Global Citizen Award

Personal Victories:

  • In Spring 2012, Arooj Haq, who was an active participant in Girls Inc. programs from early elementary school though high school graduation, was inducted into Alameda County’s Women’s Hall of Fame for her work in public health and advocating for human rights. In Girls Inc. Arooj, at 17, promoted nutrition, smart choices and healthy relationships to her high school peers, and helped run her school’s annual blood drive. The daughter of two Pakistani immigrants, Arooj has long aspired to be a nurse. A recent trip to the Middle East caused her to expand her aspirations, however. Her goal now is to one day open a charity helping women in her parents’ native country. As a young Muslim woman, Arooj has had some negative experiences due to others’ ignorance and stereotyping. The experiences only bolster her determination to be a positive role model and to redefine cultural assumptions. She now attends U.C. Santa Barbara!
  • Two Eureka! Teen Achievement Program high school participants were invited to the 2012 White House Science Fair based on their solar bus design and met President Barack Obama.

The New Girls Inc. Simpson Center for Girls

Girls Inc. of Alameda County has unveiled new headquarters to become the region’s first and only resource center for girls. The new center is located at 510 16th St in Downtown Oakland, and will effectively allow Girls Inc. to respond to the increasing demand for their critical programs.

The genius of the design for the center is not just that it revitalizes a historic building, but that it began with Girls Inc. participants!

Girls from the Eureka! Teen Achievement Program met with Berkeley-based Anne Phillips Architecture and spearheaded the project – getting regular project updates, providing design input and ideas to create a green, sustainable facility and making key decisions on efficient fixtures and design.

The end result is a flexible design concept that will support expanded programs and services, including:
  • Learning and education – Expanded space for high school girls to build skills in leadership, advocacy and peer education.
  • Physical and mental health – a vibrant health and wellness center and teaching kitchen, with a focus on cooking, nutrition, a yoga center and the Pathways Center for counseling.
  • Academic Achievement and Enrichment – Early learning, tutoring, college prep and career guidance, a library, study areas and Internet café.

Take Action:

In the media era where young women are bombarded with conflicting messages and values (think The Notorious B.I.G. singing about “Nasty Girl” and reality TV stars and pop idols making sex tapes to get famous) – there is a very real need to give young women a sense of pride, self-worth and purpose. Girls Inc. is providing a very real service in communities that need it; giving young girls the building blocks to create their futures, rather than having a future thrust upon them through poverty and a lack of education or opportunity.

Get involved by joining the Girls Inc. strong, smart & bold campaign and help them change the world: one girl, one family, one community at a time.

Become a volunteer, join our Girls Inc. Friends & Family and donate, become a Women of Impact member or partner with Girls Inc.!

There are so many opportunities to help us change the world, one girl at a time. Get involved!

“Shakti Rising”: Empowering Women From the Inside Out

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 12.34.07 PMI recently had the unique and almost otherworldly experience of stepping into the world of Shakti Rising; a nonprofit social change organization that takes a holistic approach to empowering women and girls from the inside out, with the vision that healthy, empowered women are the potential change-makers in their families, social circles, and communities. They distinguish an empowered female leader from a powerful female leader, a concept I found fascinating.

During the hours I spent at Shakti Rising when I attended their community “Garden Day,” I interacted with a number of women; some of which were on a transformational journey, some of which were there to volunteer, and some of which led the program. The sense of community and support was palpable among everyone, even though many of us had just met.

The women live together in a large home, taking classes, facing their personal demons or difficulties daily, and learning to live in community. As I worked alongside these women, saw how they interacted, and enjoyed a delicious lunch with them, I started to put my finger on what was unique about this place, apart from its holistic, inside-out approach to healing and growing.

It was the energetic space and how open, inviting, and accepting it seemed to be.

The benefits of this unique model, where women live and work side by side, became obvious to me as I witnessed the support they all received from each other. It was a refreshing change from most modern day living arrangements, where single women often live alone, only meeting other women in passing, when meeting up with friends, or in a competitive work environment. The benefit these women receive from living in community became quickly apparent. As one woman said, when commenting on how much she enjoyed preparing the food with other women, “We were not meant to cook alone.”

Shakti is a Hindu goddess representing divine, manifesting, feminine energy. She takes many names and forms, sometimes representing a motherly, fertile form, and other times is described as a fierce warrior. As such, the name “Shakti Rising” really hit home when I realized the underlying intention of the organization to empower women to rise up into their whole, complete, empowered being and then send that complete, integrated, whole-hearted woman into the world to empower, inspire, and lead others without needing to overpower others to do so.

In part, their description reads:

Our way is to walk our talk, organically closing the gap between principle and practice. We do this by welcoming change, valuing friendships, taking risks, and creating lives with fun, passion and laughter. We practice presence, gratitude and forgiveness. We delight in relationships that are long term and mutually beneficial.

We are woven together by what we value: authenticity, faith, courage, integrity, commitment and service. We believe in the power of our real life choices, knowing that mundane actions can have the most far-reaching implications. We are dedicated to sustainability and the pursuit of social and environmental change. Our lifestyle embraces the needs of the present and the legacy of the future.

Shakti Rising has several locations, including the Bay Area, San Diego, New Mexico, and Kauai. Their current goal is to reach 1,000 monthly donors in support of the education and leadership services of Shakti Feminine University. They also welcome energetic support and volunteerism, as they are largely a word-of-mouth organization.

My visit to the world of Shakti Rising sprung out of an interest to be of service to other women. I thought my contribution would be through teaching yoga. After experiencing the Shakti Rising community personally and getting to know the women and some of their individual stories, I realized that this was an opportunity to take my yoga off my mat.

Practicing yoga doesn’t always mean bending over backwards physically. Sometimes it means bending over backwards to help someone else plant a seed. Instead of supporting someone in an arm-balancing pose, sometimes we support them as they learn to trust themselves fully in the real world. We all hold space for introspection and transformation when we attend a yoga class, but it’s also entirely possible to create a sacred space in our communities where transformation, conversation, healing, and growing are possible and welcomed.

As women, we are all in a position to shift the paradigm of being a powerful woman to being an empowered woman. The difference is that one power comes from outside of us and the other comes from within. Our young women are our future leaders, and they are following our example.

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