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Strong Women, Girls pumps up South Side presence

March10/ 2011

A mentoring program for girls is expanding from schools, churches and social agencies to include library sites for the first time in Pittsburgh.

Strong Women, Strong Girls matches college women with elementary girls in an effort to promote success in school and later in life. It has 21 program sites in Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg and Steel Valley. There are sister programs in Boston and Miami, but Pittsburgh is the first to see whether libraries can attract more participants. The new sites for this free, once weekly after-school program include the Carrick and Brookline Carnegie libraries, as well as the Brashear Association, all on the South Side.

“A lot of research tells us that some girls, as they reach their adolescence, shut down on their dreams,” says Lynne Garfinkel, head of the Pittsburgh SWSG. “We want to nurture their dreams as much as we can.”

The program, which is serving 350 girls in its fourth year here, aims to provide female college-student role models, encouraging the younger girls to pursue higher education and greater career success. It also offers a comfortable space for them to develop their self-esteem, Garfinkel says.

“We’re trying to help break the cycle of poverty,” especially with women earning less and seemingly avoiding careers based on high performance in math, science and related academic subjects. The fall session ends shortly but resumes in mid- to late January, culminating in an April 9 Jump Into Spring jump-roping event as a kind of graduation.

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Lynne Garfinkel, Strong Women, Strong Girls
Image courtesy of Lynne Garfinkel, Strong Women, Strong Girls