Girls’ Initiative

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“Thank you for helping us find

our voices and inspire each other.

This program was simply

amazing. We are not alone.”

— Girl’s Initiative Participant

Girls and women of the Rochester region are disproportionately affected by poverty as documented in the findings of the first comprehensive study on the economic status of women in the Rochester region commissioned by the Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley. More than 62% of households in poverty were headed by women. Of these, 93% had children under the age of 18 years. Positive role models for children are critical to their motivation and development. Girls have a way of selecting role models to emulate and strong women role models can be hugely important during these formative years. With good role models, teens can gain the skills and outlook needed to succeed later in life, despite their challenges. The Girls’ Initiative was created in 1997 to be part of a network of community organizations, whose goals are to provide good women role models and break this cycle of poverty for girls.


Girls Literacy After School Program


To deepen the learning of other program components, this program began in January 2012 and takes place in various schools. Utilizing the Voices of Experience role model book selection, the program takes place biweekly and involves teachers and mentors in helping growing numbers of girls improve their reading skills.

However, books are not only selected for their content and age appropriateness, writing style and reading level, but also to create a dialogue that inspires each girl to consider how she will overcome obstacles, set goals and be successful in school and in life.

For more information contact


Voices of Experience

The program goal is to focus on the “life education” needs for girls age 12 to 18 and to model successful lifestyles and decision-making skills through a panel presentation. In partnership with Nazareth College, presentations by professional women who have overcome their own challenges to become successful is followed by an “open mike” session and a reception.

Since 1997 more than 4,500 girls and women have attended this event. Participation in Voices has grown from 186 to almost 400 in four years and truly some of the most impressive Voices are the girls themselves shared in their evaluations. 


Girls’ Grant-making Committee

The goal of this program is to educate girls about community issues and philanthropy. Board members and community volunteers mentor a group of about 35 teenage girls (ages 14-18 years) that meet in the summer to review grant proposals of programs for girls and determine where their money will have the greatest impact. 

Girls from the committee are invited to present their grant selections and share what they learned about the needs of their peers and philanthropy in our community at the Women’s Foundation Annual Awards Luncheon. On May 31, 2003 the Girls’ Grant-making Committee received the Unsung Heroes Award, from the Mayor of Rochester, New York, for their commitment to the community. 

For more information or to register email