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Opportunities for women of tomorrow

Nonprofit SpotlightKay VasilakisGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

In late 1997, staff of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO) hosted a series of planning meetings with volunteers in the six-county intermountain region. Research had revealed an alarming drop in academic performance for girls – from top of the class in middle school followed by a decrease in achievement throughout high school. The net result was significantly reduced options for these girls’ futures. The research provided overwhelming evidence that this is a time when we begin to “lose” girls from the academic scene. As young girls begin the transition into womanhood, many question their competence and lose confidence. They may internalize negative societal messages regarding occupational roles and narrow their willingness to explore career options. The group’s goal was to target specific programming for girls.Girls are looking for role models and adults they can trust and who have earned their respect. Professional women with personal experience have much to share and teach these girls. The conference provides an early step toward self-sufficiency, economic security and a brighter future for eighth-grade girls.

The Girls to Women, Women to Girls conference was held April 19 at the Snowmass Convention Center. It began with a morning career fair, in which eighth-grade girls met and talked with accomplished women in a variety of traditional and nontraditional professions. During the afternoon session, girls participated in skill-building exercises, including a financial exercise entitled “Budget Your Money.” The game was developed in collaboration with Junior Achievement and women familiar with the financial world, including local bankers and accountants.

A popular workshop, “What to Expect in High School,” was led by high school girls representing each of the four schools. The annual April timing of the conference is critical to academic success in high school, determination of future career choices and college application opportunities. The conference concluded with local female martial arts instructors facilitating a personal protection workshop.Kay Vasilakis’ column, “Nonprofit Spotlight,” appears every other Wednesday. Kay is the media coordinator for the Garfield County Human Services Commission. To contact her, please call 384-9118 or e-mail kvasilakis@postindependent.com.


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