Who is Involved?
The grassroots organizations listed here were all founded by girls and women of color who experienced disempowerment and other obstacles as girls in urban education. Youth, mothers, and other women of color have all joined the cause of raising empowered girls. As members of the population they seek to address, they are acutely aware of particular struggle of girls, especially girls of color, in urban schools.
How Have They Organized?
Many of these grassroots organizations organize through peer leadership and mentor programs. They focus on sharing stories and discussion, which aligns directly with their goal of helping girls find confidence in their own voices.
Issues that Intersect with Urban Girls’ Empowerment
Many issues intersect with the issue of girls’ empowerment in urban schools, especially since girls in urban schools have many intersecting identities and experiences. Some issues that are inevitably intertwined with urban girls’ empowerment are gun violence, racism, bullying, trauma, the school-to-prison pipeline, and intergenerational poverty. In the video below, the founder of SHE Wins Inc. addresses the school-to-prison pipeline and the United States’ tendency to focus on resilience as a solution to systematic injustice. She argues that individual change (such as girls’ empowerment) should be paired with concrete, systematic change.
How This Work Has Affected Girls in Urban Schools
These organizations bring “light” to girls in urban schools, as A’Dorian Murray-Thomas says in the video above (“Rewriting Resiliency,” 2019). Testimonials to these grassroots organizations demonstrate that participants find a sisterhood of support and a newfound empowerment. Girls’ confidence increases their drive to find success in their academics and careers. The videos below provide some examples of testimonials to these organizations.
SHE Wins Inc. Testimonials:
DIY Girls Program Testimonials:
Evoluer House Testimonial:
Based on my search for grassroots organization that seek to empower girls in urban schools, one can infer that these organizations might face the obstacle of funding. It was difficult to find genuine grassroots organizations, since many now-astroturfs began as grassroots organizations but quickly received funding from large corporate organizations. This suggests that donations alone may not provide enough money for the tools needed to help girls empower themselves in urban schools.
Impact on Organizing for Those Involved
The leaders, mentors, and peer educators of these grassroots organizations have empowered themselves through empowering other girls. One example is A’Dorian Murray-Thomas from Newark. After starting SHE Wins Inc. and attending Swarthmore, she went on to become the youngest member, at 23 years old, of her school board so she could see systematic change. For more information on her journey and philosophy, see this video that is also embedded above (“Rewriting Resiliency, 2019).
[DIY Girls]. (2013). DIY Girls program [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thQHKRGT8vs&feature=youtu.be
SHE wins inc. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2020, from SHE Wins Inc. website, http://www.shewins.org/
Mishkin, L. (2018). Organization empowers Newark girls affected by violence [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/organization-empowers-newark-girls-affected-by-violence/
[The Evoluer House Media]. (2014). 17-year-old Evoluer House alumna tells why you should give back to her alma mater [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWtC-mRH8iM
[TEDx Talks]. (2019). Rewriting Resiliency Radically [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVFagWoTdeE