Daily News

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $500,000 Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley announced plans for major expansion and the launch of its new campaign. The organization is in the early stages of an ambitious, comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future,” with three primary goals: to develop a permanent Girls Inc. home in downtown Holyoke; to expand school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and to extend the Eureka! STEM education program.

To that end, it has received $500,000 in support from the Kendeda Fund, a private grantmaker based in Atlanta. This transformative gift will support the expansion of Girls Inc. of the Valley’s programs and create a stronger network that encourages girls to achieve. Girls Inc. of the Valley is launching this campaign to offer more girls fundamental support and research-based programming. These programs are designed to empower girls and present them with opportunities to navigate barriers they face in school and beyond. More than 85% of the girls who participate in Girls Inc. of the Valley’s programs say they view their future positively and plan to go to college; most will be the first in their families to do so. Girls Inc. hopes the positive and lasting effects of its programs on girls who participate will grow substantially.

A rigorous, comparative study by the American Institutes for Research found that Girls Inc. girls have an advantage over their peers in more than 20 key areas. The findings demonstrate that girls not only thrive at Girls Inc. of the Valley, but they are also more likely than other girls to see themselves as leaders, with the skills and capabilities of influencing and improving their local communities.

While there are more women today in key leadership positions than ever before, there is still a pervasive gender gap in top leadership. The need for qualified science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals in the workforce continues to grow, and women — particularly women of color — continue to be underrepresented in these fields. At the heart of Girls Inc. of the Valley is a comprehensive approach to whole-girl development that equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers and grow up healthy, educated, and independent. The “Her Future, Our Future” campaign is a bold initiative designed to positively influence generational change and provide tangible opportunities for girls in the region to achieve academic and personal success.

“We are so appreciative for the Kendeda Fund’s belief in the importance of girls’ growth and development,” said Suzanne Parker, executive director of Girls Inc. of the Valley. “Simply put, we couldn’t have made this happen without an incredible, devoted team of volunteers and staff. This gift has fueled all of us in the early stages of our campaign.”

When the campaign is complete, Girls Inc. of the Valley will serve more than 1,000 girls per year — nearly 5% of the combined female population of the Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield public school systems — and be positioned to advance policy initiatives, structures, and best practices to address the unique challenges that await girls, equipping them with the skills and tools to achieve their goals and take charge of their futures.