We feel the impact of gender inequality every day—from classrooms and boardrooms to the media we consume. U.S. women only earn 82% of what their male peers do and 25% of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are neither enrolled in education or employed, compared to 10% of boys globally, according to UNICEF. Girls Incorporated of St. Louis works to change these numbers and make gender inequality a thing of the past. For more than 40 years, the nonprofit has been dedicated to inspiring girls and young women to realize their potential through educational, recreational and cultural programs in a safe environment.
“Our mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold by providing education and cultural programs in a safe environment that allows them to rise to their aspirations,” CEO and President Cheryl Jones notes. “Our priority is to cultivate the intellectual, emotional and spiritual potential we see in every girl.” Girls Inc. begins working with young women in early childhood and continues to offer support with mentorship and scholarships through college. The local chapter serves more than 9,000 girls annually. Its services include STEM-based programming; summer and after-school offerings in subjects like wellness, media literacy, leadership, performing arts and athletics; and outreach initiatives designed to help girls navigate gender, social and economic barriers.
One of the nonprofit’s major initiatives is Project Accelerate. The program is dedicated to addressing workplace inequalities, especially among women of color in leadership positions. “Project Accelerate works with young women as they transition from high school into college and the workplace,” Jones explains. “We want to change their educational and career trajectory by providing scholarships, mentorship, coaching and social and emotional support to pave career pathways that they were previously excluded from. By increasing the support and training offered to young women, we expect to see a growth of female leadership across the private, governmental and educational sectors.”
To make its programs possible, Girls Inc. relies on community support in the form of both volunteers and donations. Its largest annual fundraiser is its Strong, Smart and Bold Luncheon. “Along with raising critical funds, the luncheon also is our chance to showcase our programs, champion young women and honor those who have made our mission possible,” Jones says. “This year, we are honoring those who have participated in Project Accelerate. You’ll have the opportunity to meet the best and brightest in person and see where your support goes.” The Strong, Smart and Bold Luncheon is Nov. 9 at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis.
Jones is excited to share the full spectrum of services and programming that Girls Inc. offers with the community. The nonprofit provides girls aged 5 to 24 with the tools necessary to navigate economic, gender and social barriers—from increasing media literacy to learning about money management and everything in between. “We hope that the St. Louis community will be inspired to get involved,” Jones notes. “We want to motivate people to invest in the future and help lift up the next generation of women.”
Girls Incorporated of St. Louis inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold by providing educational, recreational, and cultural programs. Its annual Strong, Smart and Bold Luncheon is Nov. 9 at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. Pictured on the cover: Girls Inc. president and CEO Cheryl Jones with program participants. For more information, call 314.385.8088 or visit girlsincstl.org.
Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography
Pictured at top: Girls Inc. participants Sydney N., Summer C., Mae H. and Jailee J.
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography