About Us

Dedicated to the transformation of girls.

“We have to figure out what it takes to get women to believe in themselves and that they have what it takes to make it in this life.” -Gwen Elliott

Why Girls?

42% girls in the United States now live in low-income families, and 1 in 5 below the poverty line (State of Girls 2013). Growing up in a low-income home increases a girl’s likelihood to encounter physical, emotional and behavioral hurdles. They are a higher risk for

  • violence
  • abandonment and family dysfunction
  • sexist, racist or homophobic messages
  • abuse and exploitation
  • teen pregnancy
  • negative peer influences
  • academic failure
  • low self-esteem

Few services exist to help these girls. Without support, it seems like these girls’ futures are predetermined – and they are part of a cycle that is doomed to repeat.

The Need

Girls of every economic background need:

  • A safe place to grow
  • Trust, love, respect, and validation from caring adults and peers
  • Positive female role models
  • To discover and value their voice
  • To feel worthy
  • Opportunities to succeed

The Solution

Gwen’s Girls offers holistic, gender-specific programs, education, and experiences for Allegheny County’s at-risk children and young adults. More importantly, we offer a safe space where girls and young women can form relationships, build self-esteem and gain resiliency.

Gwen’s Girls recognizes, honors and nurtures the inner strength of our girls’ and their families’. This facilitates the development of each girl physically, emotionally and spiritually, creates strong family units and community bonds, and ultimately builds stable and productive lives.

The needs of our girls and families dictate Gwen’s Girls’ services. We acknowledge a society that is fraught with social barriers of race, class, and gender. We celebrate the uniqueness of the female spirit while advocating for positive changes for girls, families, and communities. And we embrace diversity of culture, perspective, and experience because we realize that differences define the richness and vitality of life.

Our educational opportunities and enrichment experiences will lead to economic self-sufficiency, quality of life and general well-being. But Gwen’s Girls is just one entity in a large system promoting the greater good. We also form collaborations and partnerships with individuals, communities, institutions, and social service providers on behalf of those we serve.

We use our financial and staff resources wisely, seek feedback from our stakeholders, and measure our results by holding Gwen’s Girls accountable for the effectiveness and stewardship of our mission.

The Impact

Since 2002, we have helped more than 6000 young people avoid the traps of poverty. Our programs are working. In the 2018-2019 fiscal year:


of our girls advanced to the next grade level.


of our girls did not become pregnant.


did not become re-involved with the juvenile justice system.

When given the opportunity, any girl can succeed.