Mission: Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) is a multi-generational, girl-serving organization in Boston. Our mission is to empower girls to imagine a broader future for themselves through a curriculum grounded on female role models, delivered by college women mentors, who are themselves mentored by professional women. Our vision is that every girl and woman will realize her inner strengths to dream and do.
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Relevance?
- SWSG purposefully partners with schools and communities that have been historically underserved.
- SWSG understands that girls, particularly girls of color, disproportionately experience systematic social barriers that impede their positive development. Girls of color are significantly more likely to be suspended, expelled, and not graduate from high school, which limits their options for higher education (NBWJI, 2018; Novo Foundation, 2018). As such, SWSG is committed to becoming a fully inclusive, anti-racist mentoring organization to ensure all girls realize their inner strengths to dream and do.
- Mentored youth increase their self-esteem, are more likely to hold leadership positions, and have greater aspirations for college – all factors that can protect girls from unhealthy decisions taking them off track from pursuing their dreams. Unfortunately, only 33.5% of Boston youth have their mentoring needs met (Mass Mentoring Partnership, 2014). SWSG aims to address this gap in mentoring services while simultaneously addressing girls’ low self-esteem.
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Impact?
- SWSG’s program is aligned with the research-backed 6C’s framework for positive youth development which develops 6 competencies: connection, caring, contribution, character, competence, and confidence (Lerner et al., 2005). A recent large study demonstrated that youth participating in 6C’s-aligned programs have increased protective factors including more positive relationships with peers and mentors, active and engaged citizenship, more positive self-worth, healthier habits, and reduced delinquency and depression (Lerner et al., 2011). As a result of programming, girls will see a world with possibilities in which they can pursue and achieve their dreams.
- SWSG evaluates program effectiveness through surveys to mentees and mentors, site facilitators, and parents and guardians at the end of each semester. Additionally, structured feedback is solicited from site facilitators, and mentors provide valuable feedback through group listening sessions and site visits.
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Sustainability?
- SWSG has diverse funding streams, with approximately 30% from grants, 35% from individuals and 35% from corporations. SWSG operates with at least six months of reserves. Over the last 4 years, SWSG has increased revenue by 30% year over year. By leveraging a network of 200+ volunteers, SWSG keeps overhead expenses relatively low.
- SWSG recruits volunteers from our corporate partners to increase awareness of the experience of girls and women in Boston.
EXCELLENCE IN MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Excellence in Management and Operations?
- SWSG prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in 2017 after an expansive feedback process across stakeholders—mentors, mentees, site partners, staff, and board members. Our multi-tiered DEI strategy is funded in part by grants from The Boston Foundation’s Grassroots Program, The Boston Club’s Advancement Award, and the Highland Street Foundation’s Terrier DEI Fund. Our DEI agenda focuses on increasing racial awareness and cultural sensitivity among mentors, integrating more representative female role models into the curriculum for girls, and ensuring all of SWSG’s policies and procedures foster an inclusive environment.
- Mentors complete two 8-hour trainings at the beginning of each school semester to ensure they well equipped to deliver the program. At the end of the year, mentors are celebrated at our “Strong Awards” appreciation night.
- The staff and Board of Directors are publically shared with our community.
- SWSG contracts with several vendors to ensure the organization functions optimally and in accordance with the law, including a part-time accounting firm, insurance benefits broker, and a remote IT services company.
- SWSG’S Development & Communications Officer works alongside a graphic design freelancer to create marketing materials that are inclusive, compelling, and clearly articulate our impact.
HOW DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION ENGAGE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS / EMERGING LEADERS?
- SWSG works with 200+ mentors from six area colleges and universities on an annual basis. These include Boston College, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Simmons University, Tufts University, and UMass Boston. Mentors build relationships with mentees through a weekly after-school program that builds girls confidence, leadership, and sense of agency. Each college mentor cohort is organized into a chapter, with a structure designed to give mentors the opportunity to assume leadership positions.
- SWSG engages professional women from varied industries across Boston to mentor the college women in our program. Known as the Strong Leaders Network, professional women provide advice on leadership, relationship building, career trajectory and personal development. This advances our vision of empowering all girls and women to realize their fullest potential.