gwens girl's logo
gwens girl's logo

Why Girls?

“We have to figure out what it takes to get women to believe in themselves and that they have what it takes to make it in this life.” -Gwen Elliott



42% girls in the United States now live in low income families, and 1 in 5 below the poverty line (State of Girls 2013). Growing up in a low-income home increases a girl’s likelihood to encounter physical, emotional and behavioral hurdles. They are higher risk for

  • violence
  • abandonment and family dysfunction
  • sexist, racist or homophobic messages
  • abuse and exploitation
  • teen pregnancy
  • negative peer influences
  • academic failure
  • low self-esteem

Few services exist to help these girls. Without support, it seems like these girls’ futures are predetermined – and they are part of a cycle that is doomed to repeat.



Girls of every economic background need:

  • A safe place to grow
  • Trust, love, respect and validation from caring adults and peers
  • Positive female role models
  • To discover and value their voice
  • To feel worthy
  • Opportunities to succeed



Gwen’s Girls offers holistic, gender-specific programs, education and experiences for Allegheny County’s at-risk children and young adults. More importantly, we offer a safe space where girls and young women can form relationships, build self-esteem and gain resiliency.



Since 2002, we have helped more than 2500 young people avoid the traps of poverty. Our programs are working. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year

  • 100% of our girls advanced to the next grade level.
  • 100% of our girls did not become pregnant.
  • 100% did not become re-involved with the juvenile justice system.
  • 99% of the girls enrolled in our program did not become pregnant for the second time.

When given the opportunity, any girl can succeed.

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