“Girls for Gender Equity was a life changing experience. I was the shy girl in the corner…They pushed me to help in my community!”
This represents the number of girls in Sisters in Strength and Urban Leaders Academy receiving direct service from us.
Estimated girls & women affected
This is an estimate based on the number of workshops, trainings, and conferences for schools, community members, and community based organizations that we lead
Estimated community members affected
Thank you for supporting the vital work of Sisters in Strength youth organizers, who are organizing around the issues of sexual and street harassment and “school push-outs” that criminalize young people. Girls are vulnerable to suspension and/or expulsion – “school push-outs” - for behaviors that require only disciplinary action. They are also subject to gender-based violence that further limits their chance of experiencing a successful academic experience.
We are at the forefront of advocating for gender equity around sexual harassment prevention in schools, focusing on school push-outs as a critical extension of our work. We work with young women of color, who are the fastest growing population in the school-to-prison pipeline.
We are happy to report that community organizers presented the workshop, Gender Justice and School Push-Out at the National Opportunity to Learn Organizing Summit. In addition, Sisters in Strength Youth Organizers facilitated participatory action research among middle and high school students in New York City. The research also involved parents, teachers, and school personnel affected by school-push out. Also, youth organizers presented preliminary findings at the Youth Researcher Conference at Columbia University for youth and service providers.
Through this ground-breaking project, we are shedding light on disparities, holding schools accountable, and uplifting preventative approaches with young people at the forefront of community-led initiatives.
"Girls for Gender Equity was the best thing that happened to me, honestly…it increased my confidence in myself and taught me that my voice could make a difference.” - Shurayer, 19, alumnae
“Girls for Gender Equity was a life changing experience. I was the shy girl in the corner…They pushed me to help in my community.” - Malini, 17
“I once thought that to help raising awareness about activism and feminism was going to be a fail, but after two wonderful years at Girls for Gender Equity, I thank them for my new perspective.” - Margaret 17
Risks and challenges
Capacity and funding are universal challenges to small non-profits seeking growth, but we continue to be resourceful. Training our Sisters in Strength youth leaders, as well as alumni, to lead workshops, facilitate events, and make panel appearances increases our capacity to educate and inform.
A small grant from a valued funder has enabled us to engage a consultant to re-design our website as an essential resource to inform movement-building and provide current, critical information, support, and direction.
What we’ve learned
Research findings reflect national trends surrounding gender and race- LGBTQ students face harsher discipline in schools, and young women tend to be disciplined for reasons such as perceived dress code violations. Students often don’t know why they’re being suspended, have limited knowledge of their rights. For the most part, suspension lowers their self-esteem and makes them less likely to want to try to succeed in school.
Sisters in Strength will continue participatory action research by collecting data to help participants refine their stories for maximum impact. The project goal is to train 60 participants who have taken surveys and shared stories of school push-out as project leaders. They will facilitate workshops in their schools and communities on school push-out, and we will also host a town hall hearing, “Confronting the Crisis of Gender Inequality and Issues Affecting Girls of Color.”
Girls for Gender Equity cannot thank you enough for your support of our Sisters in Strength program! The total project budget is being used for program expenses such as overhead, Metrocards for participants to attend weekly meetings and workshops, healthy refreshments, supplies, program evaluation, education, and training materials.
Amount spent so far
Sisters in Strength Travel
Printing and Publications
Administrative/Operations Costs (@ 10%)
Black girls are the fastest growing population in confinement, and LGBTQ youth are experiencing overwhelming rates of homelessness. Youth across the country are at risk of or have been pushed out of public education into the streets and jails, due to harsh discipline practices, gender-based harassment and subsequent violence, and lack of resources. Other risk factors also affect their safety and right to a quality education
In fall of 2013, Sisters in Strength high school Youth Organizers Nathania Fields and Kisma Herman participated in Doc Marten’s online “Stand for Something” campaign, further spreading activism and enlightenment.
Our community organizers Nefertiti Martin and Brittany Brathwaite both used media platforms to speak out publically against street harassment --www.wfuv.org/news/cityscape/140607/cityscape-street-harassment/
Giving strength to others fighting gender-based violence
“I learned how to improve my public speaking and by attending events I was able to be informed or learn a lesson from what other people experience and how to resolve problems.”
“I noticed that my cousin was struggling academically so I helped her with understanding her school work. I also noticed she didn't have any constructive activities in her schedule so I introduced her to GGE.”
“I spoke to my friends about their barriers faced against; I spoke to my friends about gender based violence and different spectrums.”
Leading for impact is an overarching goal of the 2-year Sisters in Strength (SIS) program, which prepares 15 young women, aged 16 – 19, to be leaders in the movement to end violence against girls and women. Year I of the program helped build our Sisters’ belief in their abilities to effect positive, sustained change in their schools and communities; they led 18 workshops for 690 NYC youth and educators on sexual harassment prevention and related issues. According to 2013 end-of-year evaluation surveys, 90 % of participants now believe that young women can effect positive and meaningful change in their neighborhoods. This was accomplished through a range of activities that included leading a Youth Summit on Street Harassment at the Urban Assembly Institute, where they collaborated with youth leaders from the Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE), Right Rides and Girls, Inc. to facilitate informative, supportive workshops for over 100 NYC youth. In April, Sisters were a powerful presence at NYC’s Anti-Street Harassment Rally, sharing their own experiences in front of packed crowds and leading a sign-making party in preparation for the event for Brooklyn Young Mothers Collective and NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault. In July, Sister Nathania Fields helped design and facilitate the Gender Justice and School Push-out workshop at the Free Minds, Free People national social justice conference in Chicago, to a standing-room-only audience of activists of all ages.
Risks and challenges
Capacity and funding are universal challenges to small non-profits seeking growth, but we continue to be resourceful in meeting them. Training our Sisters in Strength youth leaders as well as alumni to lead workshops, facilitate events and make panel appearances increases our capacity to educate and inform; we now have a full-time Development Director and have completed our first multi-year fundraising plan that places equal emphasis on individual donors and corporate sponsorships in addition to foundation and government grants. A small grant from a valued funder has enabled us to engage a consultant to re-design our website as an essential resource that informs movement-building and provides current, critical information, support and direction. We are now working with an organizational development consultant to help further build our capacity and strengthen our programs into a sustainable, replicable model that will yield the desired outcomes and reach greater numbers of girls and young women at the local, regional and national levels.
We are now in Year 2 of the Sisters in Strength (SIS) program, which runs from September - June of the school year. By extending the length of the program to 2 years, participants will strengthen their commitment as leaders in movement building against gender-based violence. During Year I, education and training emphasis was 25% equal parts leadership, community organizing, academic achievement and sisterhood. The second year will focus 50% on leadership in community organizing and 25% equal parts academic education and developing sisterhood. During Year 2 of the program, Sisters will develop and implement their community organizing project around sexual and street harassment prevention.
Girls for Gender Equity cannot thank you enough for your support of our Sisters in Strength program! The $17,600 you so generously donated is being used for program expenses such as overhead, Metrocards for participants to attend weekly meetings and workshops, healthy refreshments, supplies, program evaluation and education and training materials. We are so happy to have our Catapult donors as valued funding partners as we continue training tomorrow's leaders in the movement to end violence against girls and women.
Sisters in Strength appeared in a short but powerful segment of, Anita!, Freida Mock’s stirring documentary about Anita Hill’s brave testimony against Clarence Thomas and sexual harassment in the workplace. In January, 2013, several Sisters traveled to the film’s opening at Sundance Film Festival with GGE Executive Director Joanne Smith and Community Organizer Nefertiti Martin, and to the NYC premiere at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater on June 14, where, in front of over 200 people, feminist icon Anita Hill praised GGE’s youth leaders, saying that her legacy was safe and the future of the women’s movement was in good hands with these young women. The film will hit theaters in spring 2014, so stay tuned for screening updates!
“GGE will forever live on, even if it means some of us create our own programs combating sexual harassment in schools and on the streets." 2012 Sisters
Why we care: Almost half of 1,965 7 – 12 graders nationally were sexually harassed in 2010 – 2011. 87% reported negative effects on their lives. (AAUW, 11/11)
- In 2011 – 2012, 90% of our senior Sisters graduated high school and enrolled in college.
- In 2011 – 2012, Sisters in Strength led 40 workshops for approximately 570 youth and youth educators in NYC.
- Former Sisters said their experiences made them feel more confident in advocating for themselves and their communities, which resulted in their increased self-esteem, improved academic performance, and personal and professional goal-setting.
Sisters’ Snapshot: The program runs from September - June. Participants are recruited through GGE’s network of schools, CBOs, and word-of-mouth. Sisters meet weekly from 4 – 7 p.m. at GGE offices to receive services and build sisterhood, with additional workshops, i.e. Healthy Relationships and College Readiness, scheduled through the year. Sisters receive transportation (Metrocards) and stipends, which communicates the value of social justice work and their time. The program culminates with an exit evaluation, a graduation celebration, and a College Shower, where donations provide necessities and luxuries for Sisters attending college the following fall.
Moving Forward: In 2012 -2013, we’re extending the program to nurture one cohort of 10 Sisters through two consecutive years of advanced training and education to further develop their leadership skills, provide participatory opportunities in the community, and build GGE’s capacity to respond to numerous requests for workshops and related services. Our new Alumni Support Services Project will include monthly drop-in meetings, counseling, referrals/resources, and online mentoring and support. Post-secondary academic support will ensure participants’ continued success.
What the Sisters Say:
“Not in a million years would I have ever imagined standing in front of a very diverse crowd of people during the NYC International Anti-Street Harassment Rally, sharing out a personal story on behalf of women everywhere. Thanks to GGE, I didn’t imagine it, I lived it.”
Piel, 18, Sisters in Strength Community Organizer
“I strongly recommend GGE to all young girls looking for an outlet where they can be heard, accepted, and make a difference.”
Cherea, 18, Sisters in Strength Community Organizer
“Because of GGE I want to be more of an activist.”
Kimberly, 18, Sisters in Strength Community Organizer
"We will never forget the positive effect GGE had on us and the opportunity it gave us to have a positive effect on others. GGE will forever live on, even if it means some of us create our own programs combating sexual harassment in schools and on the streets." – Sisters in Strength Youth Organizers’ Zine, 2012