Program helps girls prepare for future

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The Ladies Youth Mentoring Group is up and running, and recently obtained a $3,500 grant to offer high school girls funds to obtain their driver’s licenses and clothing for work experiences.

After having success with its male mentorship group, Community Action Inc. launched a mentoring group for high school girls in February, according to Nicole Pfundheller, Workforce Investment Act in-school youth program coordinator.

The group is up to 15 girls, and meets every Monday from 5-7 p.m. The girls eat an evening meal together and go on trips to sporting events for fun and to colleges and universities. Pfundheller leads the group with help from intern Melissa Wright and volunteer Tawny Stewart.

For the past weeks, Pfundheller said the girls have been listening to a guest speaker from Junior Achievement who is helping them figure out future goals. Recently, Courageous Conversations, another group which discusses current events, visited the group. The Ladies Youth Mentoring Group has already met for 14 weeks.

“They (the girls) are awesome. Some of the little bit older girls have taken some of the younger ones under their wings. Girls who might be more shy and timid have opened up and helped lead conversations with the group,” Pfundheller said.

The girls often talk about how they crave a place to go and be inspired.

“They want to know they have somewhere where they can feel important,” she said.

There is also ongoing work on building up the girls’ self esteem.

The group will continue to meet through the summer, moving the time up to 3-5 p.m. every Monday.

Recently, the Stateline Community Foundation offered the mentoring program with a $3,500 grant.

“The Women’s Fund is pleased to support this pilot project of collaboration with Community Action and the Beloit Memorial High School to mentor teen girls a few years from high school graduation,” said Sandra Kincaid, co-chair of the Women’s Fund. “Most impressive was the combination of one on one mentoring and specialized curriculum to help make wise decisions about continuing education, employment and life choices.”

The funds will be used to help the youth obtain a driver’s license, which they often can’t afford. Five youth will fill out scholarship papers in hopes of obtaining some of the assistance for all the fees associated with getting one’s license. The grant funds will also be used so youth can get proper attire for a work experience.

The Women’s Fund of the Stateline Community Foundation began operation in 2012 as an endowed fund to inspire, empower, and support women and girls through research, collaboration, advocacy and pooled resources. The goal of its grant-making program is to support new ideas of service providers to fill gaps and emerging needs not covered through traditional funding sources.

The female group is designed for youth without a parent or role model in their lives. They are identified through teachers who may notice a drop in grades, attitude, attendance or school involvement.

Anyone who wants more information should call Pfundheller at 608-313-1325.

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