Girls Inc. of Chattanooga is a nonprofit that provides activities and programs for girls ages six through 18. Their mission is to equip and inspire girls to be strong, bold, and smart. CEO Toccora Johnson-Petersen says this equates to girls being healthy, educated, and independent. The program has 80 affiliates across the country.
Girls Inc. has in-school, after-school, and seasonal day camp programs for girls in elementary, middle, and high school. The Bookworm Club focuses on literacy for girls in kindergarten through third grade. Another program, called Techno Girl, focuses on the intro to disciplines of steam, science, technology, engineering, art, and math for fourth and fifth grade girls. The Road to College and Career Successes is designed to set girls up for success in high school and college. For a list of others, you can check out the programs page on their website by clicking here.
Toccora says they design and create programs to fit the needs of their students. An after-school program or a seasonal camp is based on surveys from the girls and their parents.
The camp this year is April the 11th through the 15th and is themed "Garden Girl." That's for girls ages six through 18. They chose this theme by listening to the girls and parents who expressed that they want more information and hands-on activities around food sustainability, agriculture, nutrition, and farm-to-table lifestyle change. The girls will learn about nutrition, self-care, and agriculture. They will also receive hands-on experience in a garden at their new United Methodist Church location. There is a fee of $50, which provides two snacks, a t-shirt, and also admissions for any weekly field trips that they will take.
Just last year Girls Inc. hosted its first Back to School drive. According to Toccora they knew their girls were headed back to school in person and wanted to make sure they were equipped with supplies, but also support. So, tutoring centers, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Erlanger representatives were brought in to talk about how to properly return back to school, in addition to giving them supplies. Working alongside experts in the community allows the girls to thrive inside and outside of the school building.
If you would like to help Girls Inc. of Chattanooga's mission, you can make multiple types of donations, including monetary, gifts, buy merch, and more. Toccora invites those who want to donate to volunteer or go on a program tour so that you can see firsthand the interactions between the program staff and participants, and what your money is going towards. If you would like to become a volunteer you can view volunteer opportunities and sign up online, by clicking the link here.
Right now the non-profit has one event coming up on May 3rd, their 18th annual Unbought and Unbossed luncheon. Over the years, 150 influential local women have been selected by teen mentees to be paired with mentors. At the luncheon, teen mentees will honor their mentor as Unbought and Unbossed. The luncheon is in recognition of the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American woman to make a serious run for the Democratic nod for President of the United States. Toccora says the late congresswoman always told her constituents that no matter where this political journey took her that she would remain "unbought and unbossed." To find their honoree, the girls choose from leaders and entrepreneurs that community members nominated, who they feel embody those traits of Shirley Chisholm.
If you would like to know more about Girls Inc. Chattanooga their social handles are linked below, along with the interview with Toccora, or you can check out their website.
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