Girls Inc. received a $2 million, two-year grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to support the Girls Inc. Bold Futures Mentoring Program, which will serve girls at increased risk of juvenile delinquency and victimization. Part of the OJJDP’s Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative, the grant funds support organizations as they strengthen and/or expand their existing mentoring activities.
Bold Futures supports the well-established history of Girls Inc. providing long-lasting, trusting mentoring relationships to help girls navigate gender, economic, and social barriers. Girls in high-risk communities face stunning exposure to violence, victimization, and sexual assault. Without adequate support, victims too often become offenders -- girls responding to trauma and environmental violence with behaviors that result in their involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Girls Inc. will offer weekly group mentoring programs at 15 Girls Inc. locations in high-need communities across 12 states. Over the two-year period, Girls Inc. will serve approximately 1,800 girls ages 9 to 14, providing consistent, in-depth experiences designed to strengthen girls’ coping skills, reduce risk factors, minimize entry/re-entry into the juvenile justice system, and increase family engagement.
“We know that mentoring is the single most important factor in preventing risky behaviors in youth,” said Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Girls Inc. “This grant will significantly expand our capacity to help girls build the knowledge and skills necessary to cope with violence and trauma in their world – as we continue to simultaneously advance our public policy and advocacy efforts to create lasting, systemic change.”
Increased services and funding comes at a critical time. While overall rates of juvenile arrest and detention have decreased since the 1990s, girls have not shown the same improvements as boys. In 1992, one in five juveniles arrested was a girl (20 percent); in 2012, that rate grew to one in three (29 percent). At all stages of the juvenile justice process, girl involvement has increased and disproportionately so for girls of color from low-income communities.
Through Bold Futures, Girls Inc. aims to equip girls with the guidance, support and skills to be engaged in school, build healthy relationships with peers and family, and reduce negative and high-risk behaviors. The desired outcome is to reduce the number of girls entering the juvenile justice system and ensure that girls who have experienced trauma get the services they need to heal and succeed.
Bold Futures will become a model program implemented across the larger, 82-affiliate Girls Inc. network and will be shared with other organizations in multiple states to strengthen juvenile justice prevention efforts nationwide.