Stronger + Smarter

By on Sep 7, 2017 in Giving

Local students are back in class, and that means back to awesome after school activities for the young lacurieositydies who participate in Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara’s afternoon programming. Yardi is a longtime philanthropic supporter of Girls Inc.’s efforts in the community.

For the second year, this fall a partnership with UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education will expose several dozen fourth to sixth grade girls to career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The program is called the Curie-osity Project (after trailblazing female scientist Marie Curie), and it was a runaway success when it started in Winter 2017.

“The girls are exposed to women who are in the STEM profession. They are experiencing hands on STEM projects and having the opportunity to really dive in and and learn about those areas,” said Kristina Webster, director of programs for Girls Inc.

The success of the program highlights two of the things the non-profit organization excels at: creating meaningful community partnerships, and enlisting the support of dedicated volunteers. 12 female UCSB scientists donated their time to welcome the Girls Inc. students to their laboratories and offices last year – a similar number will do the same this fall and winter.

“We wanted to create a program that combined literacy and science for girls,” said Danielle Harlow, an associate professor of education, in a UCSB press release. Harlow and colleague Diana Arya were the leaders on the UCSB side of the project.

“We specifically wanted the girls to come to UCSB’s campus because research tells us that children who spend time on university campuses see college campuses as places they belong and are more likely to pursue higher education,” Harlow said.

Last year, the girls in the program learned about how computer programs can measure brain activity, looked at parasites in snails under a microscope, learned about microbial marine biology, and heard the career stories of each scientist they met.

Each UCSB volunteer was interviewed by the girls for a book project, which will be available as a published-on-demand volume from Social Justice Press when editing is complete. They also created art based on each scientist they met and their work.

Annual Celebration Luncheon

On Sept. 28, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara will host its 16th annual Celebration Luncheon at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort on the Santa Barbara waterfront. Around 400 donors and supporters are expected to attend. The luncheon theme is “The Power of One: The role YOU can play to educate and empower girls.”

Keynote speaker is Lisa Shannon, an international women’s rights activist who works primarily on behalf of women in Africa.

“She is an everyday person who saw something on TV about what was happening to women in the Congo and it stirred her to the point where she was compelled to take action,” said Kristin Weaver, Girls Inc. Marketing and Communications Manager. “Her story is amazing. For anyone who thinks that their one action doesn’t make a difference, she is the proof that all you have to do is take one step forward and it opens up an amazing world of being able to help.”

For those who want to help Girls Inc., the non-profit has financial needs large and small, including a $625,000 scholarship program, $400,000 technology initiative, and many smaller projects. An Amazon wish list, available from the Girls Inc. website, allows donors to quickly and easily make an impact on the organization by shopping online for needed items.

In 2016, the organization served 1,500 girls in programming including after school and summer camps, community outreach, and gymnastics. In 2018, Girls Inc. will celebrate its 60th year working to support and help girls in the Santa Barbara area. As that milestone nears, efforts are being made to expand the time the average girl spends in the organization, which is currently around three years. Teen Center programs for grades 7-9 have been expanded to help reach that goal.

Celebration Luncheon attendees will have the chance to hear from some of the girls who participate in Girls Inc. first hand and see the benefits of their participation in the programming, Weaver said.

“It’s just something you have to experience in person. Their courage and their boldness is something that every woman in the audience wishes she had.”

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