Attendees at the Brooklyn Girls Collaborative's "Yes She Can!" Summit earlier this month.
Hear that? Across our borough, listen closely and you’ll detect the faint sounds of pencils sharpening, backpacks zipping, and notebook paper rustling. Which can only mean…
It’s back to school time!
Next Thursday, as Brooklyn’s students return to their classrooms, they’re bringing with them lessons learned over the summer.
For some, these lessons came via new friends made at the pool or memories of a trip upstate. For the young women of the Brooklyn Girls Collaborative, summer was a time to think “outside the classroom” and examine the issues that are shaping their futures—from gender and sexuality, to leadership, economics, and career development.
Earlier this year we introduced you to the Brooklyn Girls Collaborative, a group of like-minded nonprofits and community-based organizations working together to better the lives of young women in Brooklyn. With initial and ongoing support through our Education and Youth Achievement Fund, under the management of Girls Inc of NYC, the Collaborative has provided its member organizations with a unique forum to discuss policies that affect young women, gain new professional skills to better their work, share administrative resources, and plan joint events.
The highlight of their most recent efforts is the “YES SHE CAN! Girls Take Back Their Education” Summit held on August 17th at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women in Downtown Brooklyn.
Designed and led by staff and youth representing each organization, the summit brought together more than 200 young women between the ages of 12 and 20 for a full day dedicated to challenging the status quo and learning new strategies to help them succeed in the coming school year.
With a DJ providing the festive female-driven soundtrack, girls from across Brooklyn gathered with local leaders including Councilwoman Letitia James, NYS Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, and Department of Youth, and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne Mullgrav for a town hall discussion about self-empowerment and equity in education, particularly for young women of color.
In addition to performances and panels featuring successful women from diverse backgrounds, more than a dozen workshops covered topics such as “Girls on Guard: Self Defense 101 for Young Women,” “Hey, Shorty! Workshop on Sexual Harassment in School,” and “Be a Great Debater! How to Win Every Argument,” led by Collaborative members Girls for Gender Equity, Center for Anti-Violence Education, Hollaback!, Girl Scouts of Greater New York, along with North Shore LIJ Health Center, NYC Great Debaters, Urban Word NYC, and many more.
When the day came to a close, the participants had not just gained new skills to put to use in the classroom—they had gained confidence, and a stronger belief in their own ability to be successful, determined leaders.
As these bright young Brooklynites start school next week, we’re assured that their world will be bigger, their understanding deeper, and their ambitions greater for the new school year and well beyond.