STARS at the Trail: GirlForward
We’re showcasing our STARS at the Trail organizations in a holiday blog post series to help Austinites get to know the nonprofits that are dedicated to serving Austin’s most deserving citizens. Today, we’re featuring GirlForward.
GirlForward is a support community dedicated to creating opportunities for girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution. This is the organization’s second year as a STARS at the Trail participant; it’s a great way for their community to gather for the ultimate winter/holiday experience. For some of the girls, this will be their first winter in the U.S. It’s so fun for everyone to share personal holiday traditions, and learn about new ones.
Creating a Support Community for Displaced Girls
Tell us about your organization: What is its mission/what are you most passionate about?
GirlForward is a community of support dedicated to creating and enhancing opportunities for girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution.
GirlForward supports girls through three core programs:
Our Mentoring Program pairs girls with mentors to engage in "4W" activities (Wellness, Wisdom, Wallet and World) in order to explore their passions and graduate from high school.
Camp GirlForward provides a space for girls to simultaneously build their English skills while exploring their identities and learning about the world around them.
The Safe Spaces Project provides safe spaces for girls to explore their identities, connect with other girls, and access the resources they need.
What are three things you want the community to know about your organization?
We focus a lot on education at GirlForward. Whether that means practicing English skills at Camp GirlForward, hosting a workshop on applying for college, or talking about women role models from around the world, GirlForward girls are always in engaged in learning opportunities.
We believe STRONGLY and with all our being in the power of girls to change this world for the better.
In spite of our current political climate in the U.S. and in Texas, refugees are home here in Austin, and GirlForward is not going anywhere.
How can the Austin community best support your organization?
Make your voice heard that refugees are welcome here in Texas and in the United States. Welcome and show kindness to newcomers in your neighborhoods, your schools, and your community.
How can people help your organization this holiday season and beyond?
Right now is a big season for us to raise money to support our programs for the coming year! Our work is made possible by generous individuals and groups who donate funds, time, space, or supplies.
Gift cards to local cinemas, bookstores, coffee shops, or dance classes directly benefit girls. School supplies and backpacks allow girls to be prepared for our summer education program. Food and drink donations and connections with businesses enables us to nourish our village in the way they deserve. To give to GirlForward or learn about other ways to get involved, visit www.girlforward.org.
What is your organization looking forward to most in the new year?
We are launching an afterschool tutoring program at an AISD high school in 2018! This is really exciting for us because it means that we can serve even more girls and English language learners, and provide access to tutors, homework help, and even more community-building.
What are your organization’s goals for 2018?
Our program has doubled in size since 2017, and we only hope to keep growing and strengthening our community.