What happens when at-risk girls and women are offered even modest opportunities for self-driven success?
Girls seek education. Women discover independence. Entire families and communities are changed for the better as the cycle of poverty and dependency is broken.
Picture a teenage girl, Ashley, who has no idea why she should finish high school. She doesn’t know her mother, who has either been on drugs or in prison most of Ashley’s life. Ashley lives in foster care—six different homes in eight years. She feels that nobody really cares whether she succeeds or fails, and she sees school as a path less traveled. She thinks her best chance for happiness in life is to get a boyfriend, which she does. Predictably, he ends up mistreating her. She also believes her best chance for survival is to get pregnant and move out on her own, living on Public Assistance.
EmpowHer sees girls like Ashley as a community responsibility—our responsibility—they are our daughters, our nieces, our cousins, our sisters—our girls.
EmpowHer believes it’s our business to connect with girls like Ashley and introduce them to their own talents and capabilities so they will be less likely to drop out of school and more likely to earn a better future for themselves and for their families. We believe it’s not just their future at stake—the future for these girls is our future as well.
EMPOWHER’s Strategic Goal
EmpowHer’s goal is to reduce the high school dropout rate for low-income middle and high school girls who are at risk of educational failure due to teen pregnancy, truancy, and juvenile delinquency. Our strategy is to provide sisterhood, relevant training, choice in decision-making, and to demonstrate resiliency as a means to overcome poverty and to help young women meaningfully serve their communities.
Why Inner City Girls Need EMPOWHER
Statistics clearly demonstrate that programs such as ours are sorely needed. According to a State of California report from July 2009, more than 40% of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s black students and 35% of Latino students will not complete high school. Those numbers are much higher in the low-income communities served by EmpowHer.
Pregnancy is the number one reason girls drop out of school, and one in two female high school dropouts aged 25–64 is unemployed. That’s why EmpowHer Institute focuses on the estimated 4 in 10 minority female students who will not graduate with a regular high school diploma in the standard, four-year time period.
For young women who drop out of school, “The economic costs are particularly steep,” because they will “face especially poor employment prospects, low earnings potential, poor health status, and the need to rely on public support programs” (National Women’s Law Center, 2007).
We have only to look at the bulging welfare rolls to see that it is not just the girls or their families who suffer the consequences of dropping out of school: A lack of education is not only costly to the individual, it is also costly to the community, and ultimately to the nation.
Our programs are designed to help students overcome many of the negative challenges that contribute to these statistics.
What EMPOWHER Does to Point Girls toward a Brighter Future
EmpowHer programs provide training tools and early intervention and prevention that give girls the knowledge and leadership skills that will allow them to achieve financial independence. We do that by exposing at-risk girls to educational opportunities and through mentoring relationships. EmpowHer is dedicated to using education and the idea of future business ownership as empowerment tools for girls.
We make sure girls know their self-worth, know that they can go to college, and help girls use both natural and learned skills to make responsible decisions. Our programs teach self-reliance, self-confidence, personal responsibility, and financial literacy as well as the responsibility for giving to others.
How You Can Help EMPOWHER Girls
EmpowHer Institute is a 501 C(3) nonprofit fueled by grants, donations, and volunteers. We need your help to keep these programs growing so that we can serve more girls and young women. To help EmpowHer by becoming a volunteer or making a donation, please visit our Get Involved page.
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