The Cincinnati Public Schools Girls To Women Leadership Collaboration was founded with the goal of building up young women for success.
Like all character traits, leadership has its roots in childhood. The lessons we learn when we are still in the process of growing up often end up shaping the rest of our lives, so it’s essential that careful attention be paid to how our children are educated. In the past, girls in particular were taught to limit themselves and their opportunities based solely on their gender, but this kind of discrimination no longer has a place in today’s educational system.
Still, old habits die hard, which is why the Cincinnati-based extracurricular organization Activities Beyond the Classroom has allocated a significant amount of resources towards the Cincinnati Public Schools Girls To Women Leadership Collaborative. This initiative is designed to help female students develop their leadership skills through hands on learning experiences and by organizing and implementing various campaigns. The program revolves around five main pillars: Leadership as a Lifestyle, Great Leaders are Great Readers, Owning Our Destinies Mentoring, Pathways to Career, Our Tomorrow is Why – Family Engagement and Campaigns for Change, with the ultimate goal of impacting as many Cincinnati Public School (CPS) girls as possible in grades ranging from 4th to 12th by the 2020-2021 school year.
Since it’s an initiative that’s characterized by its openness and inclusivity above all, it’s important to take a closer look at how kids can get involved in the program. Connected to the program’s five pillars, there are six main experiential learning opportunities components to Girls To Women: Annual Ruling Our Destinies Leadership Summit, leadership curriculum which includes book club and entrepreneurship Mentoring, American Heart Association Goes Red for STEM event, WE Lead: Lifting Our Voices, servant leadership conference, and Our Tomorrow is Why – Family Engagement events. These experiences and opportunities are provided to students primarily after school but there are also quarterly Peer Leadership Summits also being organized for students to map out future plans. Already, more than 180 female students have had their lives impacted by this initiative, whether it’s through building some much-needed confidence in their own skills and abilities, or through the relationships they have forged as a result of the meetings and events.
In order to showcase the program’s merits so far, the first annual “Our Sheroes Celebrating Success” event was organized on April 20, 2018. The special event celebrated accomplishments of the high school student participants, facilitators, mentors, and partners, and welcomed the elementary-middle school students to the program.
Held at the Manor House in Mason, OH and featuring keynote speakers Anairis Ellis, a 12th grader Girls to Women Captain for Woodward High School who was the recipient of the first Superintendent Laura Mitchell Sheroe Award, the event recognized some of the programs top students, mentors and facilitators so far. Everyone who attended received a special gift, and there were a number of awards given out, including the CPS Girls to Women Crown Award, the Sister Accord Award, and the Activities Beyond the Classroom Pow-Her-Ful Award.
With the Girls To Women Leadership Collaborative proving to be a resounding success so far, it’s no surprise that expansion plans are already in the works. As early as next fall, the program will be expanding from 11 schools to 21 schools, with elementary and middle school students being welcomed into the fold as well. Aside from ABC, other reputable organizations have placed their support behind the initiative, including the Sister Accord, Cincinnati Police Department Youth Services, American Heart Association, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, and the University of Cincinnati. Organizations and donors interested in partnering up and assisting the continued development of Girls To Women can contact ABC for more info on potential collaboration opportunities.