Over the past year, I have been a 1girl program facilitator. 1girl is a non-profit organization that provides a unique, proven curriculum that empowers middle school girls to develop the skills they will need to be successful. The program is designed around five core skills: public speaking, creative problem solving, critical thinking, goal setting and conflict resolution.
1girl is hosting a graduation and facilitator celebration event to celebrate the work we have done this year and the girls we have been able to serve. I was fortunate enough to speak with Co-Founder and Executive Director, Shelby Kretz about the organization, the Graduation Celebration and the future of 1girl.
What was the inspiration behind starting 1Girl? – 1girl was started out of a conversation between myself and two friends, Aditi Bansal and Sheila Maina, while we were in college. We started talking about the barriers girls face, especially low-income girls, in reaching their true potential. This conversation spurred many other conversations that eventually led to us deciding we wanted to do something to help support women and girls in reaching their dreams.
How did you come up with the name? – One of the first questions we asked ourselves was, “How will we define success?” We all agreed that if we could have an impact on just one girl’s life, it would be worth it. That is where the name 1girl came from.
What steps did you take to create your organization? – We first researched how we wanted to structure the organization, and eventually we decided that becoming a non-profit was the best path for us. We completed the non-profit and 510(c)3 paperwork while we were putting together our first pilot program.
Who are the girls you serve? Backgrounds? Cultures? Ages? – We serve girls in grades 5-8. Generally, they come from at-risk and low-income neighborhoods, or they are attending poor performing schools. A majority of our girls are either African American or of Hispanic decent. However, we are always open to serving any middle school girls in need!
What types of programs does 1Girl have? – Our main program is our “Educating Future Leaders Program”. This program is run through existing after-school and summer programs. It is one semester long, twice a week for an hour. We work on skills like creative problem solving, critical thinking, and goal setting. The programs are facilitated by local college women, which allows them the opportunity to practice their own leadership skills.
Where do you hold the programs? – We work through pre existing after-school and summer sites, including schools, churches, recreation centers, summer camps, and anywhere else kids spend their time regularly. This is a great partnership as our sites are often in need of high quality, meaningful programming to offer their students. It also eliminates barriers for the girls, like transportation or additional costs.
How can people get involved? – There are a number of ways to get involved. We are looking to expand our committees, which are made up of Columbus community members interested in supporting 1girl by helping with events, marketing, finances, programs, fundraising, and more! It is a fun group of people working towards a shared mission. College students can get involved through their campus chapter of 1girl, or by starting a chapter if their school does not already have one. Being involved with the chapter will also open the opportunity for facilitating a program. Another great way to get involved is to support 1girl by donating to our work.
What is the purpose of the event next week? – The purpose of the event is to celebrate the success of our girls and facilitators. They have done amazing things this year, and we want to bring the community together to congratulate them. We will also be giving out our first 1girl scholarship to one of our dedicated volunteers.
Where do you see 1girl in the next 5-10 years? – I expect 1girl to be national in the next 5-10 years. We are expanding quickly through college campus chapters, and we expand that growth to continue. Our goal is to serve as many girls as possible with the most effective leadership training curriculum!