Youth Leadership – How it Makes Girls Strong, Smart and Bold

Hello to everyone,

I am very pleased to introduce you to Megan Moede, a young professional in Dallas and a Volunteer at Girls Inc.

Megan graciously accepted my invitation to her to write a guest blog for my column.  She chose the subject of Youth Leadership in girls, which I am eager to share with you.  In preparing her blog, Megan reflects upon her childhood,  her observations she has made as a young professional in the work place, and her experience helping young girls become Strong, Smart and Bold. As you read Megan’s guest blog, please consider becoming a volunteer at Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas.  For more information, please call Lori Hudson, Volunteer Resource Director, at 214.654.4506 or a lhudson@girlsincdallas.org. Thank you.

Lori 

Youth Leadership – How it Makes Girls Strong, Smart and Bold

Adolescence is hard. You’re wading through a sea of homework, pondering your future and maybe even considering what to wear to prom. So how does being a youth leader affect these aspects of life?

When I was younger, I had the benefit of having a strong pool of female role models in my life. My Mother, along with several other female relatives, were all great sources of positive leadership. They all had roles that required people to take their authority seriously, like in the teaching and medical field. I got to watch as they navigated through periods of adversity and blazing success, all while noting their strategy to later on emulate in my own personal and professional life. Not all young females are that lucky to have this type of support or model.

I won’t bore you with the dictionary definition of “leader,” because leaders don’t fall into one single definition or category. Leaders can be making sure you get the help you need with your homework, stopping a fight in the cafeteria or choosing what book to analyze in a book club.  Leadership can come in many forms. Captain of the football team, student body president, or even being the lead singer in a garage band – these are all opportunities where the delicate buds of leadership begin to blossom.

That is why as a young professional,  I want to pass on some three simple tips that a girl can use right now to become a better leader:

  1. Mindfulness: Leaders are mindful of how they act, talk and dress. This means leaders are always aware of their surroundings and how their actions affect who is watching.
  2. Communication: The ability to speak in public is an important part of being a leader, as well as speaking for those who might not have found their own voice yet. More importantly, however, they hone the skill to listen first and then speak. Active listening is a crucial ability that good leaders use in all communication.
  3. Management: Time-management is key. Great leaders meet deadlines and help set and achieve goals. They also know how to delegate and make tough decisions.

These skills, while simple-sounding in nature, are the backbone of every persuasive and effective leader. When implemented correctly, all of these skills create a ripple effect on those following their young leaders – they start to maybe plan their outfits ahead of time, talk to a counselor when they are having an issue with a classmate or dole out responsibilities when engaging in a group project. These small, but powerful, facets of being a better leader make those who follow see opportunities to become pioneers of their own path to success.

We hope that by sowing the seeds of a successful female youth leader today that we turn a powerful, influential woman leader into simply a powerful, influential leader.

Megan Moede currently works as a web content writer, marketing guru and customer service representative at Lone Star Percussion in Dallas, TX. She loves to cook, read and play with her two dogs. She also loves volunteering at local animal shelters and Girls Inc.!


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The Face of Poverty

Welcome to my first blog of 2014! In my role as the Chief Executive Officer of Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, I look forward to visiting with you about a variety of thoughts and endeavors…in our society, community and lives. Always, my focus will be the development of young girls into women who are healthy, educated and independent. Supporting that focus, however, will be a broad range of information, fact, analysis and anecdote, all of which impact the degree to which girls and young women are prepared to provide the essential fabric of a civil society.

As we move through these areas of interest, analysis and advocacy, I look forward to your comments, ideas, and wisdom of your experience.

In this first conversation, I want to visit with you about poverty…the face of poverty.

Nationwide

Nationwide more than 100 million Americans either live near the brink of poverty or live in and out of it, with nearly 70 percent of these Americans being women and children (Shriver, 2013). Furthermore, the Shriver Report found that woman are three times more likely than men to be raising a family on their own and wouldn’t be able to come up with $2000 in 30 days to deal with an emergency.

Growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy child development. Poverty and financial stress can impede children’s cognitive development and their ability to learn. It can contribute to behavioral, social and emotional problems and poor health. A recent Stanford study found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students has grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s and is now double the testing gap between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites, which declined over the same period (Kids Count, 2012).

Evidence from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network has shown that children in chronically impoverished families have lower cognitive and academic performance and more behavior problems than children who are not exposed to poverty, partially explained by a lack of stimulating behaviors and home experiences among low-income families.

The Face of Poverty in Dallas

In 2012, 38% of the children in Dallas lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty guidelines, a rate that has held steady at just under 40% since 2010 (Kids Count, 2013).

A review of the Texas statewide results of the 2011-12 STAAR standardized tests shows that 24% of children in the 3rd grade did not pass the reading test; 21% of the girls did not pass; 33% of those eligible for free lunch did not pass; and 41% of the migrant children did not pass. The math scores are more concerning: 32% of 3rd graders did not pass the math test; 32% of the girls did not pass; 42% of those eligible for free lunch did not pass and 46% of the migrant children did not pass.

Of the almost 160,000 graduates of the high school class of 2010 across Texas who took the ACT, SAT or both, 26.9 met or exceeded the criterion for Gold Performance Acknowledgement.  Of that group: 24.3% of females met the criterion compared to 29.8% of males; of those identified as economically disadvantaged, 9.5% met the criterion compared to 36.4% of those not so identified; and only 8.1% of African Americans and 12.7% of Hispanics met the criterion. The average scores on the SATs was 985; for African Americans it was 858; for Hispanics it was 908; for those identified as economically disadvantaged students it was 878 vs. 1037 for those not so identified; and, for girls the average was 968 compared to 1004 for boys (Texas Education Agency October 2011).

Reflective of this data, the girls served by Girls Inc. programs come from neighborhoods and families with extraordinary needs. Of the 847 girls who participated in Girls Inc. programs from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013: 36% were ages 6 to 8; 37% were ages 9 to 11; 20% were ages 12 to 14; and 7% were ages 15-18; 52% were African-American, 42% Latina, 3% Mixed Race, 2% White, and less than 1% each Native American and Asian.  Two-thirds lived in households with one or neither parent; 82% were eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch; 59% lived in households with annual income $25,000 or less, rising to 74% in households with than $30,000.

Like so many other girls in Dallas, the girls served by Girls Inc. face numerous challenges and obstacles on their path to college and career.  They include poverty, lack of strong role models, gender stereotypes, and lack of access to experiences that engage them and maintain their motivation for educational and career success in the face of peer and family pressures.

To help respond to these challenges and obstacles that girls face, our organization  focuses comprehensively on the healthy development of girls – academically, culturally, financially, socially, and experientially – through age-appropriate programs designed to meet their learning and developmental needs from grade school, through middle school, and into their high school years.

At Girls Inc., we are steeped in the belief that all girls are born with a latent potential that requires nurturing and encouragement to fully blossom.  We believe that every girl has the potential for success and that every girl has the right to pursue her own ambitions, in spite of the context of her life or the obstacles she faces.  So we created a place specifically to awaken this potential in young women and to provide opportunities for them to show the world that they can be successful– whether they aspire to graduate high school, be the first in their families to graduate college or become a  engineer, designer or business leader.  By connecting them with trained mentors and delivering leading programming throughout adolescence, we make sure that at risk girls and young women receive the education, encouragement and guidance they need to reach their full potential.

The Girls Inc. vision is not limited to improving the lives of the girls we serve.  We strive to contribute to the betterment of our society to ensure that these young women are awakened to become the strong, smart and bold individuals our communities need. Our work helps to shape leaders, innovators and doers who can make a positive difference in our communities and become role models for the generations of women to come.

Your support of Girls Inc. is a testament that you share our vision and are as eager as we are to make it a reality.

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Guest Blog: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan Dallas

Today’s guest post is from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson who is serving her 11th term representing the 30th Congressional District of Texas. In December 2010, Congresswoman Johnson was elected as the first African-American female Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. From 2000 to 2002, she was the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education where she emphasized education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines.

Congresswoman Johnson has been a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee since being sworn into office in January 1993.  In 2007, Congresswoman Johnson was appointed by House 

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-MN) to serve as Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment during the 110th and 111th Congresses.  She has served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as the highest ranking Texan. She has also served on the Subcommittee on Aviation, the Subcommittee on Railroad, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials and the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. She was the first African-American and female in Congress to hold this position of Subcommittee Chair.

Since coming to Congress, Congresswoman Johnson has earned the reputation of being a stateswoman who is dedicated to improving U.S. foreign relationships and policies. She works tirelessly towards improving human rights around the globe.  Congresswoman Johnson’s acclaimed initiative “A World of Women for World Peace” has been nationally and internationally recognized.

Congresswoman Johnson studied nursing at St. Mary’s College at the University of Notre Dame. She returned to Texas when she successfully passed the National Board Examination in Nursing. She later became Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the VA Hospital in Dallas and received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University in 1967. She received a master’s degree in public administration from Southern Methodist University in 1976. Congresswoman Johnson is the first nurse to be elected to the U.S. Congress.

Congresswoman Johnson was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1972 and became the first woman in Texas history to lead a major Texas House committee, the Labor Committee.  As an advocate for workers, children, and families, she was recognized and appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as Regional Director of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1977. In 1986, she was elected a Texas state Senator, becoming the first female and African-American from the Dallas area to hold this office since Reconstruction.

Congresswoman Johnson is widely recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Congress.  She is credited with originally authoring and co-authoring more than 150 bills that were passed by the House and Senate and signed into law. She also has a long-standing reputation for providing excellent constituent services. Her district office in downtown Dallas specializes in working with all federal departments and agencies to assist constituents in solving a wide range of individual problems.

I have known and admired Congresswoman Johnson during her entire tenure of public service in the U.S. House of Representatives.  She has consistently supported children, families, and community in her legislative and policy views. Congresswoman Johnson is dedicated to improving U.S. foreign relationships and policies and works tirelessly towards improving human rights around the globe. Please welcome Congresswoman Johnson as our guest for today’s post. 

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson: Know the Capacity of Your Strength

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” – Marianne Williamson

When I read this quote, it struck me how it reflects the common fears of young girls.  The fear of not being accepted by your friends.  The fear of not being successful.  The fear of not being as smart as your male counterparts.  But as this quote captures the sentiment that our deepest fear is that our power is beyond measure.  I believe that it is in part my responsibility to show young girls that with hard work and a strong focus on their education, anything is possible. Young girls often aspire to be Grammy-award winning singers or Oscar-winning actresses.  While these aspirations are notable, I believe we must also promote the ideal that women are capable of pursuing successful careers in the sciences.  Let us strive to create an environment where women aspire to be a world-renowned physicist or a Nobel Prize winner.

As the first African American and the first woman to serve as Ranking Member on the United States House of Representatives Committee of Science, Space, and Technology, it has always been my top priority to identify and support programs that will increase the ranks of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The United States was once ranked as the top country in science and technology, but now that is no longer the case. In 2009, the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development found that U.S. students ranked 25th among 34 countries in math and science. We must continue to work together to encourage young girls, especially minorities, to pursue STEM careers.

Girls, Inc.’s mission is to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.”  Their mission is serving young girls worldwide, and stressing the importance of continued education and mentorship of future generations of women leaders. We must encourage girls to be strong and stay the course of challenging career paths. We must advocate for them to be smart and excel in their studies, so they can continue in competitive fields.  We must motivate girls to be bold and choose to go into STEM careers. Our girls are the future backbone of our workforce, and it is important to introduce them to STEM vocations that can be exciting and rewarding.

The pursuit of STEM careers is the key to the U.S. not just competing in the 21st century, but leading. It is imperative that we bolster the confidence of women and young girls, and encourage them at every turn to pursue their dreams.  We are doing a disservice to future generations if we allow fear of the unknown cripple the minds of young girls, and thereby prevent them from excelling in competitive subjects.

I sincerely applaud Girls, Inc., and in particular the Metropolitan Dallas Chapter, for their continued efforts in encouraging girls to reach their full potential.  Investment in younger generations is an investment in the success and prosperity of our country.

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Our Girls Need Mentors!

“I encourage all Americans to spend time as a mentor and help lift our next generation toward their hopes and dreams.” – Barack Obama

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan DallasToday, I’d like to ask you to help change the life of a girl. Many of our girls need a role model, a friend, someone to provide encouragement, support and maybe a bit of guidance beyond the daily math homework.

We have over 50 girls at our four campuses in Love Field, Oak Cliff, South Dallas, and West Dallas who are waiting to be matched with a mentor for help with homework, emotional support and guidance. I urge you to participate in our mentor program, connect with a girl and provide her with support and encouragement.

Research shows that children who have mentors are significantly more confident in their academic abilities and considerably less likely to display behavioral problems. You can help a girl succeed by simply lending a hand, offering a word of encouragement or helping her figure out that pesky math problem. You don’t need any special skills to serve as a mentor, only the desire to help and to be a friend. And since mentors are required to serve only five hours a month, even the busiest of women can take advantage of the opportunity.

So, what is it like to mentor a girl? While mentors give time and provide support, they benefit from the experience too. Meet one of our mentors Hillary Munsch, who will tell you about her experience in her own words.

Mentor Hillary Munsch and Brianna Working Together

Hillary Munsch mentors Brianna five hours a month at Girls Inc.'s Love Field Campus.

“I was matched with Brianna, who is 10 years old and in the 5th grade.  Brianna reminds me of the power of the human spirit.  Her approach to life is so refreshing.  She might not be the best reader, but she wants to work at it, and she wants to get better.

Before the Thanksgiving break, Brianna had a packet of worksheets about 10 pages long.  One of her classmates insisted that she only had to do 2 or 3 pages of the homework.  I could tell Brianna wasn’t quite sure.  I asked her if she’d like to keep working on it.  She not only said yes, but we sat there and did the entire packet of homework that wasn’t even assigned.

It wasn’t just about a child actually wanting to do homework; it was about the look of determination she had as she tried to pronounce words like anemometer or velocity or precipitation.  (I don’t know that I can pronounce “anemometer” properly!).

Although it might be such a simple example, it’s a demonstration of perseverance with no fears.  If we all approached challenges in this manner, this world would be a different place.

I am so thankful for this experience.  I look forward to learning more.  I look forward to having the same impact Brianna has on me.”

I invite you to experience this profound power of mentoring. Our girls need you for help with homework, emotional support and guidance. Please reserve your spot today! To register or to learn more about the program, contact our volunteer resource director Leanne Hall at 214-654-4506 or lhall@girlsincdallas.org.

Best,

Lori

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Up to Speed Thanks to Speedway Children’s Charities!

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan DallasOne of the critical services we provide to our girls is transportation from school to our Girls Inc. campuses and then home at the end of the afternoon.  We also take girls on many field trips during the year, including college tours. Since parents often lack the resources to provide transportation, without these vehicles, many of our girls would not have the opportunity to participate in our programs. As the number of girls we serve has grown and our old vehicles have suffered much wear and tear, we were in dire need of replacing three of our old mini-buses.

Thanks to a generous $133,140 grant from Speedway Children’s Charities, we can now purchase three new mini-buses and continue to transport our girls safely.  This year, we were fortunate to be one of two nonprofit organizations chosen by Speedway Children’s Charities to receive the prestigious Founder’s Grant. Accompanied by four of our girls, Kourtney (7), Kristen (8), Daisy (9) and Desiree (9), a mother, an aunt and a grandmother, I had the delight of receiving the award on behalf of Girls Inc. at  the annual Christmas tree lighting and grant Ceremony at Texas Motor Speedway on November 27th.

Girls Inc. receives Founder's Grant for $133,140.00 during the Speedway Charities-Texas Chapter, Christmas tree lighting and program And what a celebration it was for all the children and families that were present. The children painted their very own Christmas ornament with the help of volunteers.  We all enjoyed the hot chocolate, apple cider, cookies and popcorn, listening to holiday songs performed by members of the Chisholm Trail Middle School Choir from Rhome. Then Santa Claus arrived in Speedway’s “No Limits” Wild Asphalt Circus Ural motorcycle with sidecar and it was time for the traditional lighting of “The Biggest Living Christmas Tree in the Metroplex.” What a sight to behold! The 65-foot Douglas fir tree was adorned with more than 10,000 lights and oversized ornaments.

You can imagine our girls’ delight when Speedway Children’s Charities officials invited them to help Santa put in the plug to turn on the Christmas Tree lights. The magic moment was even shown on live TV.

Girls Inc. receives Founder's Grant for $133,140.00 during the Speedway Charities-Texas Chapter, Christmas tree lighting and programThen the official program began! In the holiday spirit of giving, Speedway Children’s Charities first awarded the two Founder’s Grants and then 17 additional grants to Dallas/Fort Worth-area organizations. Jennifer Henshaw, Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter Executive Director commented: “We are thrilled to have Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan Dallas receive one of the Founder’s Grants from Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter. The organization’s dedication to education and health to girls in Dallas aligns perfectly with the mission of Speedway Children’s Charities. We are proud to help them continue to serve as mentors and act as a positive influence in these young girls lives.”

Girls Inc. is very fortunate to have the support of Speedway Children’s Charities, which is focused on making an impact on the lives of children during its 16 years of serving North Texas. Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter has distributed more than $8.5 million in grants since it was established in 1997 and has touched the lives of more than two million children.

The funds raised to help benefit Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter are generated through special events held throughout the year at Texas Motor Speedway to help organizations in Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties.

We are extremely grateful to receive this grant! Thank you, Speedway Children’s Charities, for your commitment to the empowerment of our girls and young women!

Best,

Lori

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Meet Gissel, Age 12

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan DallasToday, I’d like to introduce you to Gissel, one of the many precious girls in our Girls Inc. program. Gissel is twelve years old, goes to Thomas J. Rusk Middle School, and has been a member of the Girls Inc. family for four years.

Math, science, writing, reading, social studies, homework, friends… These days, the schedule of middle schoolers is just as busy as mine, it seems. And the business of growing up strong, smart, and bold is no laughing matter. But Gissel is not one to complain; in fact, unlike many of her classmates, she enjoys and excels at math. She finds reading a bit problematic, but that’s what the tutors and staff at Girls Inc. are for.

Gissel Gissel loves dancing, plays sports like the best of them—volleyball and basketball, to be exact—and somehow finds the time to serve as an Assistant Manager of Girls Inc. Young Women’s Company. Through the program, our girls run their own business and are introduced to economic literacy, marketing principles, and career planning. Each year the girls raise funds through their entrepreneurial efforts and use the proceeds to participate in our annual summer college trip.

Gissel also enjoys participating in Girls Inc. Drill Team and has already performed with the team at the YMCA. And what has she learned at Girls Inc., where she enjoys spending time with her friends and discovering new things? “I learned to maintain myself and be strong, smart, and bold!” ‘Nuff said! Most importantly, Gissel loves Huskies and dreams of being a veterinarian one day.

Would you like to help Gissel achieve her dream? You too can help make a difference in the life of a girl like Gissel. Your investment will help us continue to provide the programs and opportunities that girls ages 6-18 need to lead successful, independent lives.

You can make a donation online at www.girlsincdallas.org/InvestinGirls or call us at (214) 654-4559.

Invest in the success of girls today and become part of our 43-year history of empowering girls to become successful adults and transform their communities.

Best,

Lori

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Let’s Talk Empowerment of Girls and Women!

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

-Anne Frank

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan DallasI’d love to speak at your next event! As CEO of Girls Inc. of Dallas and a member of the organization’s national board, I have the opportunity to serve Girls Inc. mission and contribute to the national discussion concerning the future of young people in our country.  I am deeply passionate about the advancement and empowerment of girls and welcome the opportunity to discuss the challenges and solutions to preparing girls to become healthy, educated, and independent women in the community.

What are the issues girls and young women face today? How can we inspire them to be strong, smart, and bold? How can we empower them to graduate from high school equipped with personal, academic, and career planning competencies so that they grow up to be successful, independent women? In pursuit of our mission to serve more girls in more neighborhoods and with greater impact, we at Girls Inc. tackle these questions daily. We are continually striving to meet the overarching challenges in the community and increase the level of intelligent discussion about girls in our society.

So, let’s talk about the present of our girls and the future of young women. I would be thrilled to speak at your group meeting, classroom, community center or other event about the challenges and solutions to empowering our girls and strengthening our communities.  What are your concerns? What do you see as top priorities?

I am eager to participate in these discussions and would love to hear from you.  Let’s spark conversations that illuminate, stimulate and encourage further exploration of the critical issues facing girls and young women. Please email me at lpalmer@girlsincdallas.org. Do not delay. Let’s talk.

Best,

Lori

About Lori

Before joining Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, Palmer was the first executive director of the North Texas Food Bank. She also served on the Dallas City Council for eight years, where she chaired the Health & Human Services Committee and the city of Dallas Domestic Violence Task Force.

She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington with an emphasis on community planning and nonprofit administration. Palmer has received the Maura Award from the Dallas Women’s Center and other awards for community service.

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New Girls Inc. Program Combats Teen Pregnancy

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan DallasHave you heard the troubling statistics? The most recent County Health Rankings and Roadmaps study shows that Dallas County has a birth rate of 76 per 1,000 women ages 15-19. And Texas has already been ranked the fourth highest in teen birth rate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s no secret that the children of teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as teenagers, and face unemployment as young adults.

To fight the problem, we are launching Girls Getting Ready! (GGR!), a comprehensive pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention program for girls ages 10-18. We have a proud history of providing pregnancy-prevention programs based on the research-based Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy (PAP) curriculum, and this evidence-based project is a natural progression in our commitment to prepare girls and young women for personal and professional success. We are honored and excited to undertake such an important project.

Stay tuned for full details about the program on Monday when the announcement will go out!

Best,

Lori

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Meet Margaret Grant, a Master Multitasker and Budding Career Woman

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan DallasAt Girls Inc., we have the privilege of watching girls grow, succeed and thrive. It’s always exciting to catch up with our graduates and hear about their accomplishments. Today, I’d like to share with you another Girls Inc.’s success story. Upon graduating from high school in 2008, our alumna Margaret Grant received the renewable Investment in a Lifetime Scholarship towards her college education. Today, Margaret is a 23-year-old senior Business major at Stephen F. Austin University. She’s actively involved in SAM (Society for Advancement in Management), The Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda and interning at the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce.  How does she manage to do all that while going to school? Margaret never gets behind in her schoolwork and has her trusty planner with her at all times.

The first of her family to go to college, she notes that receiving the scholarship has changed her life. Margaret is looking forward to graduating this December. To mark this important rite of passage, she will host a graduation party in a place that’s been her home away from home since she was six, and where she spent 12 years: our Girls Inc. South Dallas campus.

“My experience at Girls Inc. was a life-changing opportunity that I feel every girl should have,” notes Margaret. “From a young age, through middle school, and then my teenage years, Girls Inc. was there to help with everyday situations, school, peer pressure and relationships with friends. I learned practical skills like budgeting and how to be a good friend and a leader and how to make good decisions.”

Margaret found the strength and inspiration to pursue her dreams from different role models in her life: her mother, her cousin and Ellen Wood, whom she met at Girls Inc. where Ms. Wood volunteered as a mentor. Ms. Wood is a long-time, avid supporter of Girls Inc. “Margaret has changed my life, and I believe I have gotten even more out of our relationship as the mentor,” reflects Ms. Wood. “We have spoken nearly every week for the last six years and Margaret has shown me how difficult the transition to and through college can be. Her persistence, optimism (and her ever-present smile!) and a strong belief in personal responsibility (instilled by her Girls Inc.’s training) are critical factors for Margaret’s success.”

Inspired by her relationship with Margaret, Ellen co-founded the Teaching Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing talented teachers and principals to lead schools that can close the achievement gap so that future students like Margaret are better prepared for the challenges of college.”

Margaret remembers her years at Girls Inc. very fondly. Her advice to other young women considering attending Girls Inc.? “I would say it is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience. You can’t get this experience, information, or vision anywhere else, so enroll, and enroll quickly!”

I am always delighted to share these great success stories!  What would you like to ask our girls? Would you like to volunteer or help in other ways as we pursue our mission to serve more girls and see them thrive and succeed?

I would love to hear from you. Please email me at lpalmer@girlsincdallas.org. Don’t delay. Let’s visit.

My best,

Lori

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Greetings from Chilly Minneapolis!

Lori Palmer, CEO of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan DallasI’m in Minneapolis having just attended an excellent conference hosted by our Girls Inc. national organization for Girls Inc. affiliates in two regions of the country.  It is a bit chilly here— 37 degrees to be exact!  Now bear in mind, I was born and raised in Minnesota and you might think that I would be perfectly at home in this frigid weather.  Well, think that no further. After having lived in Texas for more than three decades, I consider 37 degrees to be darn cold, bone chilling cold.

The conference was simply excellent–informative, energizing, motivating, and inspiring.  I came away from it with new ideas and multiple action items; importantly, I also came away from it with a strong sense of affirmation that the strategic direction that we are pursuing at Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas is right on target and at the forefront of the national Girls Inc. growth strategy…GROWTH WITH IMPACT.

Together with our sister affiliates across the country, we are dedicating our efforts in Dallas to increasing the number of girls that we reach and preparing them to become healthy, educated and independent women.

The highlights that I have chosen to share with you were selected because I believe they will give you a solid understanding of the seriousness with which our Dallas affiliate is pursuing our strategic direction to serve more girls, in more neighborhoods with greater impact and our planning and preparation to do so.  Here are the highlights:

Engineering Growth–From Vision to Reality: Strategies and tactics build a local growth plan

Girls Inc. Literacy Initiative: Introducing Girls Inc. newest initiative which combines key elements of effective literacy programming with the Girls Inc. programming approach

Growth through Creating a Girls Inc. Mentoring Community: Reaching and retaining more girls of all ages through group mentoring; enhancing staff knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding the trusting/mentoring relationships; and developing relationships/partnerships with outside groups/women to enhance the affiliate’s Mentoring Community

Reaching More Middle School Girls: Programming ideas and resources to aid in the recruitment and retention of girls once they reach middle school age

Strategic Decision-Making for Financial Sustainability: Developing a strategic and sustainable funding model to reliably raise revenue and fund programs and infrastructure; analyzing revenues and full costs associated with each program; learning about the latest expert research and thinking on financial sustainability in nonprofit organizations

Welcoming Emerging Populations as a Strategy for Growth: Reaching and serving diverse populations in our community as an effective strategy to grow the number of girls we serve; ensuring that staff and girls have a knowledge base on diversity; training tools and best practices to ensure staff is prepared to work with new populations in a culturally sensitive manner, and ensure the girls we serve can embrace diversity to support other girls

Being Strategic with Social Media: Integrating social media into a larger communications plan to tell the Girls Inc. story, connecting with key audiences, understanding the opportunities and challenges presented by new social media platforms

Girls Inc. Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy: Updating the Girls Inc. Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy program curricula for medical accuracy and addressing the critical issues that girls currently face

I am eager to hit the ground running when I return to Dallas.  Do you have an interest in learning more about any of these areas?  Would you like to volunteer or help in other ways as we pursue our growth plan to serve more girls, in more neighborhoods, with greater impact?

I would love to hear from you if you would like more information or would like to be a part of our strategic direction GROWTH WITH IMPACT.  Please email me at lpalmer@girlsincdallas.org. Don’t delay. Let’s visit.

My best,

Lori

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