The mission of YWCA GirlsFirst is to encourage leadership, instill confidence, develop skills and provide opportuntities to girls of color.
This is a year-long intensive leadership program that starts the summer before freshman year. Activities include:
After their freshman year, GirlsFirst alumnae are encouraged to continue participation and offered more opportunities to develop their skills, including:
This program is open to all girls who have the desire and potential for leadership and excellence, but is specifically designed to serve girls of color who face social and economic barriers to success.
15-year-old Tsewone Melaku says she was a quiet, little person before she got involved with YWCA GirlsFirst.
Her first summer in the program was a revelation. She took part in the three-week Summer Leadership Academy that showed her how to set goals, build a support network and gain the skills she would need to succeed in high school and life.
YWCA GirlsFirst encourages leadership, instills confidence, develops skills and provides opportunities for girls of color. Through the program, Melaku also received ongoing guidance and support during that critical first year of high school; connected with an attorney as her adult mentor; completed a summer work internship at the Seattle Art Museum; and even got to meet former Museum Executive Director Mimi Gates.
This year's GirlsFirst Summer Leadership Academy began on July 19 with 70 new participants and ended with an overnight retreat at Seattle University. The Leadership Academy is an opportunity for young girls of color to develop relationships and build skills in a safe, fun and educational environment. The Academy provides a firm foundation to help prepare participants for high school and beyond.