The GreatHER Together Program
In September 2013, The Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay announced the Imagine the Future Campaign with a goal to raise $1 million in one year.
The intent of this aggressive campaign was two-fold:
- Increase the Women’s Fund endowment and add an additional grant cycle to the annual grants program
- Create a multi-year impact grant to pilot a program focusing on girls ages 9 to 14 who are at a critical point in their emotional development
Thanks to the support of over 600 individuals, families, businesses & corporations, over $1.2 million was raised!
As a result, the Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay’s endowment reached more than $2 million, a second grant cycle was added and the GreatHER Together impact grant partnership was formed.
GreatHER Together Partnership
GreatHER Together is a collaborative community strategy that empowers girls to imagine “what can be” in their lives, identify their goals and develop personal and realistic pathways to get there. The program is an innovative, research-based endeavor being led by a unique, integrated collaboration between the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, in coordination with the Green Bay Area Public School District. Developed from the ground up by the staff of these organizations, GreatHER Together is groundbreaking in its programming, intent, and vision to significantly change the lives of local girls ages 9 to 14.
This program calls for:
- Strong collaboration
- Systemic approach for transformational change
- Longitudinal, scalable, goal oriented and evidence-based programming
- Benchmarks for progress
- Sustainability plans
Developed using research from the Girl Scout Research Institute, the Search Institute, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the National Center for Disease Control and the expertise of the collaborating organizations, GreatHER Together is built around outcomes of developing:
- Healthy decision making
- Effective interpersonal skills
- Positive self-identity
- Good character
- Goal-setting skills
To achieve these outcomes at each grade level, GreatHER Together curriculum activities incorporate group discussions, collaboration, and hands-on projects. They are centered on:
- Making friends
- Health and wellness
- Career awareness and exploration
- Financial literacy
- Service learning
- Transitioning to middle school
Finally, the intentionality of experiential learning opportunities exposes girls to new experiences and helps with outcome acquisition. Those opportunities include awareness events, career exploration, field trips and a week at a Girl Scout resident camp each summer.
System Level Impact
While GreatHER Together is designed to benefit all girls, the pilot’s local implementation focuses on girls of color, girls from low socioeconomic households and girls with a variety of other risk factors, because they will have to overcome even greater obstacles during their adolescent years.
GreatHER Together is designed to begin in fourth grade and end in eighth grade. It has a three-pronged approach to achieve growth on a system level. Through intentional group program sessions, one-on-one mentorship with adult advocates and life-changing experiential learning opportunities, participants receive and apply these outcomes in a variety of settings.
Each participant has developed trusting interpersonal relationships and a vision of what healthy leadership is by being paired with a long-term adult advocate with whom she meets weekly. To develop interpersonal skills, the girls attend regularly scheduled group meetings that offer a custom curriculum aimed to inspire girls’ dreams and nurture skills necessary to help them overcome personal obstacles and reach their goals.
Cohort Update & Learning
The GreatHER Together pilot was launched to serve two cohorts, totaling 30 girls, at no cost to their families. As of January 2019, Cohort 1 is in eighth grade and Cohort 2 is in seventh grade. The girls have spent between four and five years in the program respectively. Since the program’s start, a total of 17 girls remain actively engaged, growing relationships with their adult advocates, developing essential personal resources from engaging curriculum sessions and experiencing life-changing learning opportunities.
Since launching GreatHER Together, program leaders have witnessed the initiative’s true impact on girls who have successfully made the difficult transition from elementary to middle school. Participants are making healthier decisions than many of their peers, maintaining higher levels of self-esteem and personal values compared to other girls their age and are connecting to school and their community in ways that set them up for success.
Weekly program sessions continue with each cohort meeting once per week at Franklin Middle School.
In 2018, one of the girls’ favorite curriculum activities focused on conflict. Girls chose sides of an issue, crafted and presented an argument to support their point of view, and then debriefed by identifying which points used facts, opinions or unproven statements. From this experience, girls learned that in real life:
- There is often more than one perspective on an issue
- Conflict can be healthy and constructive
- Carefully listening to discern facts from opinion is important
Additional activities and hands-on experiential learning field trips have focused on:
- Cultural exploration
- Dealing with grief
- Exercising a growth mindset
Cohorts will receive the outcomes-based curriculum sessions through the end of eighth grade. The pilot’s participants will also continue with mentorship by their adult advocate and experiential learning opportunities, like annual summer camp, through 12th grade. As we prepare these girls for successful futures, they are assured a constant support system of caring adult allies that will equip them well to reach their goals.
The Role of Adult Advocates
Adult advocates are paid, highly trained mentors, and paired one-to-one with participants. They meet weekly with the girls to provide academic and social support and serve as caring and consistent adult allies. As GreatHER Together girls enter middle school, adult advocates utilize the evidence-based Check & Connect mentoring model to provide academic support that helps girls remain engaged in school. Along with modeling healthy social and emotional skills and providing ongoing academic coaching, adult advocates use a strength-based approach to build girls’ awareness of their positive attributes while helping them develop important problem-solving skills to effectively navigate life’s challenges.
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Another central element of GreatHER Together is the program’s Experiential Learning Opportunities. Providing deeper engagement and real-world application of GreatHER Together outcomes, these hands-on experiences, including field trips, summer camp, and inspirational guest speakers.
Annually, GreatHER Together is evaluated using multiple assessment tools that measure girls’ perceptions and collect additional feedback from parents, adult advocates and other adults in girls’ lives. During 2018, the GreatHER Together team documented qualitative and quantitative impact measures that included these highlights: GreatHER Together Outcomes Report
Program Replicability: Keys to the Future
As the program pilot enters its final years, GreatHER Together has developed a thorough, 270-page toolkit for replicability and sustainability. This publication includes:
- Program readiness information
- Administration guidelines
- Implementation instructions
- Curriculum for grades 4 through 6
The toolkit allows this program to be replicated by organizations across the nation and includes a consultation model that will provide partial financial sustainability for the current program.
Heartfelt Thank You!
The outstanding impact of the GreatHER Together program has only been possible by the generosity of all who supported the Imagine the Future Campaign. Without that support, GreatHER Together would not exist. Donor generosity has had widespread impact throughout our community and will continue to positively impact girls, locally and nationally, through the replicable toolkit and consulting efforts. Thank you!