CEO of Girls Inc. of Los Angeles
By Melissa Magsaysay
Among many things, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the inequities that various communities face, from education to food stability. Long before the pandemic and certainly at an increased amount through it, Girls Inc of Los Angeles has been arduously working to not just bridge these gaps but empower girls ages 5-13 to dream without limits and soar to their utmost potential.
The organization serves girls attending Title I schools (the technical term for schools that have been identified by the federal government as serving students who face barriers to equitable education) with programming and mentoring initiatives that support their development and success through highschool and beyond.
“Girls Inc. of LA empowers young girls to know, despite whatever challenges they face, that they are more than enough,” says thirteen lune co-founder Nyakio Grieco who serves on the board of the organization. “My desire to join the Girls Inc. family stemmed from my hope of helping other girls to realize their talent, gifts, and magic from an early age. What you see, you do. I hope these Black and Brown girls we serve look at all of their incredible mentors, and know they can do it too!”
To support the incredible work and mission of the organization, a portion of all sales from March 7th to March 13th on thirteen lune will benefit Girls Inc of LA.
Here, Erin Ross gives us more insight into how Girls Inc of LA is working to impact the communities they serve so that young women can harness their power, purpose and potential and reach new heights.
Get to Know – Erin Ross CEO of Girls Inc of LA.
How has the pandemic affected the students you serve and what (if any) are the unique challenges in these communities? Has Girls Inc of LA created any new programs or initiatives to address pandemic related issues?
While the last two years have been hard for all of us, girls growing up in these systemically under-resourced schools have been among the hardest hit. The Surgeon General put out a report in December that suicidal ideation was up 51% in girls last year. We know that returning to school has come with many unique challenges and we have worked to establish a safe space for girls as they reacclimate- putting a major focus on their physical and mental wellness, leading lessons about healthy relationships and friendships and most importantly creating a space for joy and connection.
Girls Inc of LA serves Title 1 schools, why is this important?
We often refer to these schools as systemically under-resourced. We believe it is important to put our organizational resources into communities that have faced systemic barriers tied to institutional racism and other long-standing forms of discrimination.
What would you say is the biggest challenge you face as an organization?
Our biggest challenge is that every girl in Los Angeles would benefit from our programming, but we have limited resources so we can't meet the need. Instead, we focus on where we believe we can have the biggest impact.
What is the most rewarding part of your day?
I was recently in a classroom when our girls were asked to describe what Girls Inc. means to them. They shared that it was a place where they feel comfortable to be themselves and feel all their feelings. After the last couple of years, it brought me so much joy to know that we are able to make that happen for our girls.
What makes you hopeful?
Our girls are full of innate talent and strength. I am blown away by them every day. It is simply our job to empower them to tap into that strength and amplify their talents. There is no question that they are future leaders if we just help make those pathways available to them.
What else would you like people to know about Girls Inc of Los Angeles?
Our work would not be possible without our incredible board who give so much of their time and talent to make our programs possible. We are grateful to board members like Nyakio Grieco who use their passion and networks to elevate our brand.
How can people support Girls Inc of Los Angeles that may have the greatest impact on your work and mission?
We are always in need of donations so that we can continue to expand the number of schools and girls we are serving.