Copyright 2005
Girl's Best Friend Foundation

Girl's Best Friend Foundation (GBF) closed November 2007. 
GBF’s records are archived with Special Collections of the University
of Illinois, Chicago.  In fall 2008, they will be made public:

Listening to Girls

Any organization promoting girls' and young women's strengths had better have ways to learn what girls think and want!

Girl's Best Friend Foundation created Sisters Empowering Sisters (SES) in 1997. SES was conceived as a girl advisory program, then a grantmaking program, and its earliest slogan -- It's a Partnership, not a Power Trip! -- hints at the pride Sisters took in creating a solidly girl-friendly project. In recent years, SES has emphasized special opportunities for the Sisters to stretch their skills and community connections. Learn more about SES.

One respondent suggested that GBF's integrity in serving girls was enhanced by the program because it was not "six degrees removed from girls or community."

--From 2004 communications audit

In 2002 GBF released a report: Speak for Yourself: What Girls Say about What Girls Need. Commissioned by GBF, research was designed to focus GBF's funding; encourage girl-friendly programming, funding, and policymaking; benefit girls in the here and now; and inspire further research.

Speak for Yourself involved girls' inquiring into their own lives and communities, and their voices are highlighted in the report. Girls from three Chicago-area programs and from Champaign-Urbana, Woodstock, and Rockford, Illinois were both co-researchers and subjects. The girls, like the programs of which they were a part, were a diverse lot.

Read the executive summary of the findings (PDF, 288k), which offers tips for how to assess if a program is girl-friendly, and suggestions for best supporting girls as they develop.

For complete details, download the full report (PDF, 800k), which elegantly details findings about the challenges girls encounter and ways adults in girls programs can honor girls’ strengths. Research methodology, demographic data, and the research instruments are also provided.

"The findings are not surprising, but useful -- to make the case for what we do. When you're working in the field, you know it intuitively but it helps to see it formally, official. Made me think. I work with girls but didn't study adolescent development. I'm looking for ways to fill that part of information. It's a great resource."

--2004 communications audit

Seven Best Practices For Funders

The Three Guineas Fund’s great report, Improving Philanthropy for Girls’ Programs, includes best practices to look for when considering funding requests:

  • Homegrown programming that caters to the specific needs of girls served
  • Holistic approaches that serve the whole girl
  • Collaborations to build a full spectrum of supports
  • Strong personal relationships between staff and girls
  • Long-term programs
  • Quality over quantity
  • Provide a girls-only space

Read more

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