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Girls Inc. Is Working to Make Sure the Future Is Female

SI Swimsuit model Christen Harper shares the importance of this nonprofit organization.

Pay It Forward is a monthly column where we highlight women and brands pushing for progress and affecting change within their respective industries.” As part of our Pay With Change initiative, features are nominated by SI Swimsuit models, editors and community members. This month Christen Harper nominated Girls Inc. a Los Angeles-based organization that works to build up the confidence and life skills of young girls.

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Christen Harper knows girls run the world. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model has been working closely with Girls Inc., which helps build up young women in Los Angeles and around the country by offering resources and tools as well as being a support system. “The organization gives the girls practical skills to navigate through economic, gender and social barriers all while instilling confidence and a strong sense of self in each young girl,” Harper says of the organization featured in our first Pay It Forward spotlight.

The national nonprofit organization dates back 158 years and has continued to exceed expectations. “Girls Inc. has been a champion for girls evolving to meet their needs helping them develop the skills they need to grow strong, smart and bold,” says Erin Ross, CEO of Girls Inc. Greater Los Angeles. “We bring our program directly to schools to provide girls with a supportive and inclusive space where they are celebrated and encouraged to be the best versions of themselves.”

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For her part, Harper, who is currently auctioning off a virtual meet and greet with herself via CharityBuzz to benefit the organization, worked closely with third grade girls in Los Angeles’ Inglewood and Watts neighborhoods for six weeks. “The growth I saw from them in a seemingly short time was so incredible and speaks volumes for how important Girls Inc. is,” she says. “From the first day together, most of the girls in the room were too fearful and shy to say their name or to raise their hands to answer questions, but by our last day, they were all friends and brimming with confidence.”

Other women who have devoted their time and resources to Girls Inc. include Venus Williams, actress Jodie Sweetin and Logan Browning. Keep reading to learn more from Ross about how this organization is the ultimate for girl power.

Did you ever imagine Girls Inc. Los Angeles would be where it is today?

“The Girls Inc. L.A. chapter has had a couple of iterations. Most recently, Girls Inc. L.A. was relaunched in the summer of 2015, and we’ve since had the privilege of serving girls year after year and serving over a thousand girls at one point in time. The vision is to build a continuum of programming for the girls so that they can grow up with Girls Inc. The organization made it through the pandemic during a time when a lot of organizations had to completely cease programming. We hit the reset button and know that with the right staff in place we are growing the program and continuing to serve girls. Along the road, there have been many opportunities for growth, and we continue to move forward keeping the girls at the center of it all. We are currently at three elementary schools and two middle schools and with a plan to expand into L.A. high schools in the next couple of years.”

What’s the greatest part of doing this?

“Seeing the girls blossom into confident leaders who are outspoken. It’s a reminder that the work we do truly can transform lives. They see it as a safe space where they can be themselves; they feel empowered and encouraged to use their voice. Girls Inc. staff supports girls in developing their confidence to break out of their comfort zone. We see that transformation firsthand which is very telling of the impact of our program.”

Why is an organization like Girls Inc. so important and special?

“There is a sense of belonging that comes with having a space that is developed specifically with girls in mind. Girls Inc. is focused on providing programming that is pro-girl, research-based, and provides mentoring relationships. Being a part of Girls Inc. means that you are part of this sisterhood and community of individuals that are invested in helping you find your passion, develop your skills and rise.”

How can people get involved with Girls Inc. and support?

“Community involvement is an important part of the Girls Inc. experience. You can get involved by becoming a weekly volunteer, supporting girls in the classroom or hosting a special workshop for girls. As we grow our program, donations are imperative and allow us the flexibility to allocate the funding where it is needed most to help the organization overall. Sponsor a school or field trip. Attend one of our events. There are plenty of ways to get involved, and we appreciate the generosity and support of our community. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram at @girlsincla and share our mission with your family and friends to increase our visibility.”

What’s next?

“We have our first-ever Women’s Leadership Breakfast on October 11, the International Day of the Girl. Over 150 women from different sectors will come together in honor of girls. We have a wonderful panel of leaders that are coming together to share their thoughts and experiences with issues and opportunities facing women leaders. We encourage you to join us in our celebration and be inspired to support our mission of inspiring girls – the leaders of today and tomorrow. You can get all the details here.”