On March 2nd, the American Association of University Women, wrote a blog post about Strong Women, Strong Girls. View the article below or visit the blog here.
Pittsburgh Strong Women, Strong Girls
March 2, 2011, by AAUWFellow
I will never forget my elementary school mentor. She helped me practice reading, finish my kindergarten art projects, and would walk me down the street after school to ballet class. I truly believe that having positive role models, who help children learn and grow outside of school hours, can add tremendously to their development. Therefore, I was thrilled to learn that a past AAUW Community Action Grant was providing so many girls in Pittsburgh with the same wonderful opportunity I experienced when I was younger.
Pittsburgh Strong Women, Strong Girls was started by 2006 Community Action Grant recipients Lindsay Hyde and Joanna Dickert. It is a mentorship program with three branches across the United States working to create a cycle of empowerment between young girls and women. Before the branch opened in Pittsburgh, there was no afterschool programming available for girls in the city. Hyde and Dickert thought Strong Women, Strong Girls would be able to provide much-needed services to both elementary schools and universities in the area.
The Pittsburgh program pairs college-age women from five universities with girls who are in elementary school. Strong Women, Strong Girls has a two-fold mission: to provide young girls with positive role models pursuing higher education and to educate college-age women about leadership, professionalism, and community service.
The Strong Women, Strong Girls after-school curriculum is designed to teach girls about women in history, communication skills, and goal setting. Participants and their mentors complete several projects throughout the year, including a community service project, which could be anything from planting a garden to producing a play for their school.
The college mentors benefit from the program in that they receive the opportunity to be a role model to a young girl, and they have the chance to collaborate with and learn from other female mentors at their university. The program provides the university students with two days of training to help prepare them for their mentorship role. Additionally, each campus cohort participates in various development and leadership workshops throughout the year, allowing them to develop networking and professional skills they can use beyond the classroom.
The program has grown a great deal since AAUW first funded the Community Action Grant. Currently there are 352 girls who participate in Strong Women, Strong Girls at 22 program sites. The program’s Executive Director Lynne Garfinkel explained that the program in Pittsburgh has been such a success that they have decided to expand even further. “We are currently in the process of working on a three-year growth plan with the hopes of allowing an additional 300 girls to participate in Strong Women, Strong Girls in the upcoming years,” she said.
AAUW applauds both the staff at Pittsburgh Strong Women, Strong Girls, as well as those women who take time out of their busy days to help make their community a better place for children to grow up.
To learn more about Strong Women, Strong Girls, please visit www.swsg.org.
This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Mia Cakebread.