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Investing in Girls

As part of the six month anniversary of our WIN-WIN initiative, we're featuring Girls Inc. in a video produced by Kim Kelly and edited by Anna Krebs; and a story by Beth Bafford. Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through life-changing programs and experiences that help girls navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

It’s not often that I can say with certainty that my investment dollars are making a discernible difference in the life of a young girl—let alone many young girls—but today I can say it with pride. I recently witnessed the impact of my investment dollars during a trip to Girls Inc. in Alameda County, California.

Not long ago I became intrigued with Calvert Foundation’s WIN-WIN Initiative. It’s designed to spur investment by women for women – through loans to businesses and services that support women and girls. I decided to invest in WIN-WIN through Calvert Foundation’s Community Investment Note to put my money to work for women around the world.

Calvert Foundation took those dollars—pooled with the investment dollars of others—and invested in Girls, Inc. of Alameda County, the largest affiliate of Girls, Inc., a national organization. Their mission is to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” They do this by offering vital education programs to young girls (ages 5-18), with a focus on girls living in high-risk, underserved communities. Their programs take a holistic view of girls’ development, helping them with literacy, fitness, mental health, nutrition, leadership, and academics. The ultimate goal is to nurture girls who are confident, economically independent, and adequately prepared for higher education. And they have done this with astonishing results for over 60 years: 95 percent of their girls enroll in college, with many being the first in their families to do so.

So how did my money help? Girls, Inc. of Alameda County had grossly outgrown their small facility in San Leandro, CA. They now serve over 7,500 girls annually, so their space—less than 10,000 square feet in total—was unable to house all of the programs that had grown so rapidly over the years. This forced them to divide programs across many spaces, disjointing the experience for the girls. So, the Girls, Inc. leadership team decided that they needed a new facility. With the help of the incredible folks at Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) they found a new space that would better suit their needs. To purchase this new space however, they needed a lot of financial support. Over the past year, they launched a successful capital campaign and reached out to debt providers like Calvert Foundation and NCCLF for help.

With the necessary financing in place, this Girls, Inc. affiliate will soon be housed in a newly constructed, 30,000+ square foot campus in Oakland, CA. This will not only enable more programs to exist on site, but is also much more accessible to the girls of Northern California because of its proximity to the BART train and other public transportation services. In the words of one young girl, this new campus will soon be “home.”

I am unbelievably proud to say that as a WIN-WIN note holder, my investment dollars are creating the opportunity to build this new home for thousands of young girls. I am so fortunate that I was able to see first-hand how my dollars are helping, albeit in a small way, create stronger, smarter, and bolder girls, something our world desperately needs.