Gwen’s Girls Celebrates 20 Years of Inspiring New Destiny
Looking forward to the next 20 years in a new, permanent space for girls and young women in the Greater Pittsburgh region.
It all started 20 years ago, in 2002 when Gwendolyn J. Elliott founded Gwen’s Girls. A force within the City of Pittsburgh, Gwen was ahead of her time as she broke down racial and gender barriers by entering the Pittsburgh police force. Throughout her career as a police officer, sergeant and ultimately commander, Gwen realized the struggles Black girls and women faced in their daily lives. She realized a needed change and became a champion of those girls, supporting their lives and the lives of their families.
Each year, Gwen’s Girls serves approximately 350 girls from ages 8 to 18 to lead productive lives through holistic, gender-specific programs, education and experiences. We offer programs ranging from academic engagement, mental health services, mentoring and career exploration through our after-school, summer and community-based programs and STEM initiatives over three program sites, which are located on North Side, Wilkinsburg and Clairton. We also have an online academic program for youth in 3rd to 12th grade.
As Gwen did, we also recognize the struggles all girls, but especially Black girls face today – how they must overcome the gender, social and racial barriers. As a result, the Black Girls Equity Alliance (BGEA) was formed in 2016 and addresses the social inequities and the impact on our youth. Comprised of several local organizations, the BGEA boasts four workshops that focus on improving the outcomes for Black girls in child welfare, juvenile justice, education and health and wellness. These workgroups have created a space for collaborative interdisciplinary initiatives that have refined community resources to better serve the need of our girls and young women.
As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we reflect on our transformation since 2002. We have seen incredible success as countless girls have come through the doors of our various program sites and residential facility over the past 20 years. We have witnessed many of our youth graduate and become productive members of the community. The feeling of accomplishment is everything!
Throughout this 20th-anniversary year, Gwen’s Girls and the BGEA will announce several new initiatives and an expansion that allows us to continue the legacy of our founder, as well as all the staff and partners who have contributed to our foundation and success. We are excited to reveal the purchase of a building at 600 Ross Avenue in Wilkinsburg, which will provide a permanent home for Gwen’s Girls and a safe space for Black girls, their families within the Greater Pittsburgh community.
Let’s all be champions. Let’s Inspire New Destiny. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our girls and young women as we celebrate 20 years and beyond. Join us at our Roaring 20’s-themed Gala on May 12, 2022, at the Wyndham Grand Hotel Downtown Pittsburgh.
To learn even more, visit gwensgirls.org or follow on our social channels:
LinkedIn: @gwen’s girls
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