This week's featured partner post is all about Girls Empowerment Network, better known as GEN. I had the chance to chat with Claudia Arellano, Outreach Program Coordinator, and learn about this amazing program. Read on to learn all about these girl experts and how they are changing girls' lives year after year.
Q: What is GEN?
A: Girls Empowerment Network is a non-profit organization with the mission to "ignite the power in girls by teaching them the skills to thrive and believe in their ability to be unstoppable." GEN works with local schools and provides programs that promote their mission through the Girl Connect program, a program that happens before and after school. Some of their programs outside of school settings include Camp GEN (3 - 8th grade), Pathfinder Leadership Summit (9 - 12 grade), and their annual We Are Girl conferences. The conferences featuring a variety of guest speakers happen in Austin, Houston, and Dallas each year bringing over 2000 girls and parents together with the common goal of walking away inspired by what's possible and with a new belief in their personal power.
Q: When and how did GEN come about?
A: Girls Empowerment Network was created over 20 years ago by women who were interested in building up their daughters' self esteem. These incredible ladies took notice to the fact that girls' self esteem plummets when they enter the teenage years and they wanted to do something about it. Their organization is based on the book “Reviving Ophelia" by Dr. Mary Pipher, which discussed the value of empowering girls from a young age. Early on, GEN was even called the Ophelia Project, and then later changed to GENaustin. Once they began expanding outside of Austin, the name changed to what it is today. When GEN began, it's structure was mainly based on high school mentors going to schools and being mentors to younger girls. Today, GEN is growing and has a much greater presence in the community.
A: GEN calls it "giving the girls magic." GEN Program Coordinators, or Confidence Builders, work with girls by teaching them 6 C's (Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication, Coping Skills, Creativity, and Confidence). The goal is for girls to increase their self-efficacy by learning through modules that include self-compassion, stress management, friendship, identity, and many more. Through girl empowerment programs like campGEN, GEN brings the magic by singing, dancing, and creativity throughout the entire program. GEN always teach guidelines, which discuss how you want be treated in group and also how you want to be treated in life. They teach guidelines such as letting one person speak at a time, calling it One Diva, One Mic, so they each feel valued and heard. The girls will gain new friendships and positive role models through women in the community who do power chats with the girls. They are the "Girl Experts" and they help girls to find their power!
Q: What credentials, background, or trainings do GEN employees have that them sets them apart?
A: Most of the staff have the social work background or a related field such as child and family development. All staff have a dedication to girls. Not only are the Program Coordinators, but they are also "Girl Experts" and "Confidence Builders." At campGEN, the ratio of staff to girls is 1 - 5 and they make sure every girl is collaborating and creating bonds with other girls. They also hired for social work or a related field interns. In total, GEN employs sixteen people and is governed by a Board of Directors.
Q: How is GEN funded?
A: GEN is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) that is funded by grants, corporate donors, and independent donors. campGEN is a fee for service program paid by families of who girls are attending the program. GEN can only provide financial support on a limited basis and parents should contact Claudia directly for more information on the application process.
Q: Share a testimonial with us.
A: Magical Moment: GEN has a talent show every week of their program. About two years ago, they had a girl who was struggling to get up on stage and perform because of shyness. The program director spoke to the girls to motivate them to break out of their comfort zones and give it their best shot. She encouraged the girl to be confident. One girl went up front and sang her heart out. Later, they noticed a second girl who was feeling very nervous about singing in front of a crowd. The first girl gave her friend the same speech that the program director had just given her, and shared her experience, which convinced her to perform. It was incredible to see the girls actually using the skills that she learned at campGEN.
CampGEN, Girls Empowerment Camp - LEARN MORE & REGISTER your daughter for CampGEN 2018
More About Girls Empowerment Organization - LEARN MORE on GEN's website