“Building a Better Future, One Girl at a Time”
Girls Group is a program to develop self-sufficiency in young women, grades 7 through 12, who have the potential to become first generation college students. Girls Group reaches out to the under-resourced teenagers of Washtenaw County. Girls group was founded by Sue Schooner, an auto executive. She started mentoring a group of middle-schoolers, who did not believe that they could ever attend college. Sue inspired them and shepherded them along and 5 members of that group graduate from college in 2014. She wanted to create an organization that would prepare similar girls, who did not have the opportunities that most more privileged girls have be ready for and survive at college. Girls Group has grown to 3 full time staff members, a number of contracted employees, many part time workers and volunteers. When people hear of what Girls Group does for teenage girls, many want to become involved with this successful organization.
The ultimate ambition of Girls Group is to help young women define and achieve goals which lead to self-sufficiency. Girls Group provides the necessary resources to develop personal and leadership skills, improving the chances for a better future. The ideal is that each young woman attends college, earns a rewarding and well- paying job, finds a good partner, and helps make the world a better place. This ideal may not be reached by every young woman, but we want each of them to finish high school, obtain good jobs, avoid drug use, delay pregnancy, and move forward in the world with pride and self-confidence.
Girls Group has both in-school and out of school programs. In each, we help young women create a positive peer pressure environment to support their goals of achievement and economic independence. Through both individual and group dynamics, Girls Group helps young women find their voice, define their goals and dreams, and establish a support network to break down emotional and societal barriers which could potentially limit their futures. They develop life skills necessary for success and are presented role models of adult women who have succeeded.
Julie was contracted by Girls Group to establish a social work program for the organization. This involved creating social work field internship placements for graduate social work students from University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Wayne State University Schools of Social Work. She supervises interns in a monthly meeting, recruits, meets monthly with volunteer LMSW Supervisors, and met and created relationships with University Program administrators. Currently Girls Group has 7 social work interns. This accomplished, Julie is now responsible for the Supervision of all staff and continues to give input into the ongoing Social Work Programming.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for me to give back to young professionals and to the community.” Julie