Gwen’s Girls recognized the importance of meeting the needs of our young adults ages, 14-18. We have developed a service model specifically for them designed to prepare them for adulthood. Here are our young adult programs:
The BGALA Program stands for Black Girls Advocacy and Leadership Alliance. BGALA is a program for our Gwen’s Girls that are in high school, ages 14 to 18 years old. The program allows our girls to express themselves in a positive and judgement free environment. BGALA teaches the girls how to develop skills and use their voice and advocate against things such as adultification, colorism, and other social injustices facing black girls today. BGALA also empower the girls to love the skin they’re in, to be leaders in their schools, and their communities.
The S.T.A.R.S. Program stands for Striving to Achieve Resilience & Success. This is a 12–15 week mentoring program that is strength-based, community-based, & youth-driven. S.T.A.R.S. assist court involved, and at-risk youth identify goals by creating a “pathway plan” and making action steps towards self-improvement & empowerment. By pairing the youth with a mentor that guides the youth according to their individualized needs and provide advocacy supports to meet goals and connect them to community resources.
During the 12-15 weeks the youth is taught tools during community outings and group sessions. We utilized our evidence-based “Girl’s Circle” curriculum to teach how to model excellence in school, community & family settings. S.T.A.R.S. programming partners with local magistrates, schools, and community-based organizations as referral source when a youth in need is identified.
The program builds the youths skills and explores alternative means of rehabilitation such as volunteering, leadership, and advocacy as an alternative to succumbing to arrest, fines, and fees, placement, probation, hearings suspensions and a host of other legalities that can potentially prohibit the youth from grand opportunities because they develop a criminal record.
Within these programs, we also provide career exploration activities.
Gwen’s Girls knows that education is critical for self-sufficiency. However, many of our girls struggle with their educational endeavors.
The majority of the girls in our programs lack a general knowledge of careers and occupations, including the necessary educational requirements for specific careers or job tasks. In addition, many of their families are financially disadvantaged and have limited educational backgrounds and/or knowledge about the fields to which the children aspire. They may also lack the social and cultural resources necessary for making career/work decisions.
Job shadowing is a powerful way for girls to learn about the world of work. Going to a workplace and learning the daily responsibilities of an occupation not only teaches our girls the details of a career, it also reinforces the expectations of a professional environment. Some of the experiences, such as job shadowing at Allegheny General Hospital and the UPMC Shadyside pharmacy, provide our girls with one-on-one attention from a professional in a career of interest to that girl. Other shadowing experiences have been designed as job tours to educate small groups of girls about careers available in various workplaces. These experiences provide hands-on opportunities for girls to learn the skills necessary for specific careers, and the girls also meet positive role models.
It is not always an option for us to take girls to worksites during the school day. Therefore, a number of professionals from various occupational backgrounds visit our facility to teach our girls about their professions. This gives the girls the opportunity to learn about a variety of careers, both traditional and non-traditional. Having a speaker in the more casual setting of our After School Program allows for candid conversation between the professional and our girls. Speakers often tell the story of their personal career path, such as how they became interested in their career of choice, connections between school and work, and what challenges or barriers they faced along the way. By hosting career speakers in our After School Program, we are able to reach a large number of girls.
We are pleased to inform you that Gwen’s Girls has again been approved for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program from the Commonwealth of PA for fiscal year 2020-2021.