Our mission is clear and simple. Young women deserve to reach their full potential.
The One Girl Initiative is a unique research-based effort to develop a holistic, inclusive, replicable, and collaborative program that focuses on girls. Through alignment with organizations, agencies, and girl-centered programs, One Girl will empower girls in a seven county central Ohio region to believe they have value in themselves before we can ask them to add value to the world.
The first step in the One Girl Initiative was to find out what we knew about girls – initially, we realized that we knew nothing. There had been no gender-specific information about girls in central Ohio. The Women’s Fund commissioned Community Research Partners to collect data on eight factors: population and diversity, economic characteristics, child care, education, health, sexual health, safety and risk behavior. One Girl: A Status of Girls in Central Ohio, is first comprehensive study on girls and women under 18 in the seven-county central Ohio area. In addition to informing policy-makers and nonprofits about the unique needs of girls in central Ohio, One Girl will serve as a benchmark for progress and a basis for future research. To add the story of girls to the “numbers and narrative” information we’ve gathered, The Women’s Fund held “Listening Conversations” with over 500 community members including, social services providers, parents, educators, decision makers, and funders in all seven counties.
We knew that in order to have a comprehensive program for girls – it would require a coordinated community response. In 2009, we put out a request for proposals from area girl-serving non-profits. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio also invited collaboration from the funding community. Where are we today? In partnership with The Columbus Foundation, Nationwide Insurance, and Cardinal Health awarded an initial investment in the development of a holistic approach to helping girls reach their full potential. The collaborative of girl-serving organizations include; The Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland, The Interprofessional Commission of Ohio, Ruling Our eXperiences,The Mentoring Center, and the YWCA of Columbus.
In February of 2011, a follow up report to the Status of Girls report titled One Girl: A Snapshot of Girls in Central Ohio. The report contains original research from 2,000 girls in grades 5-12 who responded to a survey about what main concerns they have, what they want help with, and who they want help from.
An underlying theme in every conversation was cross-age experience. We were surprised at the consistent feedback between both the adults and girls – girls need someone to help them navigate through the transitions in their lives, specifically, elementary to middle school, middle school to high school and high school to college.
Although there were specific concerns about sexual activity, self-esteem and healthy relationships, girls and adults felt the solution was some type of relationship. Generally, adults wanted girls to have adult mentors. Overall, the girls strongly advocated for mentors who were closer to their age who had “been through it.” The girls also said that they wanted to have a role in creating the program – to not just “do” what the adults have set up.
The One Girl initiative has the resources, power, and potential to make central Ohio a place where girls have the confidence, skills, and tools to live productive, happy, and effective lives. Together, we empower women and girls, impact families and uplift entire communities -one girl at a time.
Statement from Andi Boutelle, the high school student volunteer filmmaker for the One Girl video:
When I was asked to create a video for The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, my immediate response was yes. As a past grant reader, I have seen the work of The Women’s Fund in action and how beneficial their support has been to several programs who have assisted countless women and implemented long term change in society. It has been a real pleasure to work with such an uplifting and positive organization whose message is simple yet powerful: every girl can reach her full potential.
One of my initial concerns when I began making plans for the video was how to present the statistics. From experience and observation, I have learned that people tend to detach and dissociate themselves from statistics often times because they cannot conceive the enormity of the issues or because they view them as cold, hard, unrelatable facts. By having real girls present these statistics, I hope to give these facts a face, so to speak, giving them life and meaning. This could be your sister, daughter, or friend. She’s not just some number typed on a sheet of paper.
I really enjoyed working with other girls to create this video, and found that the girls enjoyed their experience as well. After reading some of the statistics, one of my friends was pleased to find that girls were doing so well in school, but commented on the need for further progress. I tried to film a wide array of girls in this video, differing in ethnicity, age, and background in order to show the variety of girls that these statistics represent.
A few were shocked at the graveness of some of the statistics. A friend even asked me, “What’s the point of reciting these dismal facts to people?” I told her that these statistics were not set in stone. The great thing about the Women’s Fund is that they recognize this. Instead of seeing a group of struggling girls, they see young women who have the potential, but just need to tap into it. We can change the statistics presented to us today for the better.