National Nonprofit Girls Inc. Expands to Chicago

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Former City Colleges Exec Arshele Stevens Tapped as CEO.

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Coming to Chicago is part of our five-year growth strategy to double the number of girls we serve, particularly in low-income communities.

Girls Inc., the national organization inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, has launched a Chicago affiliate. Arshele Stevens, previously President of the Kennedy-King City College in Englewood, is serving as the Chief Executive Officer.

In partnership with schools and local organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada, Girls Inc. provides long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment and research-based programming to equip girls to overcome serious challenges and prepare them for academic and long-term success. Girls Inc. also advocates for legislation and policies to increase opportunities for all girls.

Tina Tchen, former executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, explained the importance of bringing Girls Inc. research-based programming to the city. “By empowering girls to navigate gender, economic and social barriers, Girls Inc. is not only changing the lives of the girls it serves, it is also preparing Chicago's community leaders of tomorrow.”

Judy Vredenburgh, Girls Inc. national President and CEO, further explained, “Coming to Chicago is part of our five-year growth strategy to double the number of girls we serve, particularly in low-income communities. We’re committed to its success.”

Chicago programming will begin this fall with a focus on girls in grades K-3 at Martha Ruggles Elementary School in the Chatham/Greater Grand Crossing area. Girls Inc. Chicago has tailored its efforts to meet the specific needs of the city in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. The three-pronged curriculum will focus on healthy bodies, academic achievement and life skills.

“It's so important to position young girls to be our future leaders by giving them the support and skills they need to succeed," said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. "We're pleased to welcome Girls Inc. as a partner as we work toward the shared goal of supporting girls and communities by helping build key life skills."

Arshele Stevens added, “We’re beginning with Kindergarten because it’s critical to intervene at this age. Research has shown that girls as young as six start to believe that certain activities aren’t for them because they don’t think they are smart enough. In fact, at age six, girls are significantly less likely to associate brilliance with their own gender. As we raise additional funding, we plan to expand to additional grades and other schools.”

Girls Inc. Chicago has also put in place a strong executive board chaired by Jean McLaren, President of MARC USA’s local office, and a team of proven executives at leading Chicago corporations including Dentons, Grant Thornton, Ingredion, Remington Seed and Walgreens.

Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments and education activist, emphasized the broader community impact of Girls Inc., “In light of the serious issues our youth are facing, it is so important that we develop the talent and potential of Chicago’s girls. Girls Inc. will play a strong role in giving young girls in our struggling communities the tools they need to succeed and help our city thrive.”

Jean McLaren concluded, “We are grateful for the investment of Girls Inc. in Chicago and are so pleased to have a CEO with Arshele’s proven skills leading our efforts. She brings an outstanding track record of producing high quality outcomes for educational organizations, combined with a personal passion for our mission. We are also fortunate to have such a strong community commitment represented by those serving on the board.”

To learn more about Girls Inc. of Chicago, visit girlsincofchicago.org.

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Tieler Giles
Girls Inc.
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