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Charles M. and Joan R. Taylor Foundation supports Girls Lead with three-year, $75,000 grant

The Charles M. and Joan R. Taylor Foundation, Inc. has strengthened its renewal of support for the Women’s Resource Center’s Girls Lead program by committing $75,000 over the next three years (granting $25,000 per year) in memory of Joan Taylor Prewitt. Funding partnerships such as the one provided by the Foundation are invaluable for a program like Girls Lead, especially this school year.

Girls Lead experienced unprecedented growth for the 2023-2024 school year, almost doubling in size from 12 cohorts (Girls Lead groups in area schools) to 23 cohorts across all five southeastern Pennsylvania counties, including Bucks and Philadelphia counties for the first time. This year is truly an exceptional opportunity to bring the transformational program to more children in Greater Philadelphia. For example, last year’s total participants numbered 178, while this year, the number is closer to 300.

Program Director Danielle Siwek commented on the Foundation’s multi-year funding commitment as “groundbreaking for Girls Lead” saying “it’s immeasurable – the three-year grant is helping us double in size and sustain that growth to reach more girls in more areas. This growth could not be possible without this funding. I am unbelievably grateful!”

Girls Lead is a school-based program started in 1999 by the Women’s Resource Center and which continues to thrive after more than two decades. This program is aimed at helping middle and high school girls with untapped leadership potential.  The participants are nominated by their guidance counselors and principals and develop evidence-based life skills that bolster them and help them become strong leaders in their school, community and beyond.

A WRC review of research revealed four common protective factors or skills that help adolescent girls avoid common pitfalls and thrive: communication, conflict resolution, decision-making, and problem solving. These common protective factors are also life skills that foster leadership ability.

Life skills that help girls to become more assertive in their relationships while considering multiple viewpoints, managing conflict, expressing themselves with confidence and making good decisions are a priority during times of high stress with the focus on mental wellness among youth.

The Girls Lead curriculum has evolved over the years to represent the current reality for adolescents. While focusing on the four skills, the program has also implemented elements of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Additionally, it incorporates today’s social media dilemmas as well as current mental health coping mechanisms in guided skits, scenarios and exercises.

Both the middle and high school programs consist of 18 sessions plus a Girls Lead Conference. The Girls Lead curriculum, implemented by skilled human service facilitators contracted by WRC, culminates in a Leadership project to positively impact the school or community.

During the annual Girls Lead conference, the participants have the opportunity to meet the other school cohorts in the program and to present their Leadership project to the entire Girls Lead community. Over the past years, the conference has been successfully conducted both in-person and virtually, due to the pandemic. This year, the conference is scheduled to be in person on Tuesday April 9 at Villanova University.

Girls Lead is a unique program in that it is both evidence-based and experiential, enabling participants to experience and incorporate the four essential skills into their everyday choices, developing leaders now and into the future.

Girls Lead is entirely funded through the generosity of donors and is free to schools and participants. If you are interested in helping to support Girls Lead, please contact Dr. Mojdeh Keykhah, WRC’s Director of Development and Communications, at Mojdeh@womensrc.org.

Interested school administrators, including school counselors, are invited to contact Girls Lead Program Director Danielle Siwek, LCSW, at Danielle@womensrc.org to learn about how the program can be included at their school.

The purpose of the Charles M. and Joan R. Taylor Foundation, Inc. is to honor the lives and work of Charles Minor Taylor II and Joan Richards Taylor.  Son of a physician, Charles Minor Taylor II became a prominent businessman in Little Rock, Arkansas. His wife, Joan R. Taylor, was a well-regarded British model and also an actress in films. During their lives, the couple took active roles in business and civic affairs in Little Rock and elsewhere. Mr. Taylor was also a decorated Air Force veteran and rose to the rank of Colonel during World War II. Joan Taylor Prewitt, in whose memory the three-year grant is given, was a former Board member and longtime volunteer of the Women’s Resource Center.

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