By Laurie Goodman
Girls Inc. Grant Writer and College Bound Volunteer

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about equity. At Girls Inc. our vision as an organization is “Empowered Girls in an Equitable Society”. This is a huge goal, so how do we accomplish this? I think one of the most important factors in a girl’s future is education. So how can we move that needle to see more underserved girls get into college and graduate?

For the last five years, I have been a volunteer with the College Bound program. Alongside some incredible women, our particular role was to help girls prepare essays and personal statements for college entrance applications and scholarship applications. In the beginning, I had no idea what to expect. The College Bound instructor encouraged the girls to be very honest in talking about their lives, challenges, goals, and dreams. Some of these life stories were difficult to hear. These girls’ experiences ranged from physical and verbal abuse, abandonment, extreme poverty, bullying, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, homelessness, dangerous neighborhoods, and many other significant challenges. Many had experienced more trials before adulthood than some of us experience in a lifetime. Frankly, some of the stories I heard would devastate many of us. But what I saw was enthusiasm, hope, and the willingness to work hard. These young ladies were resilient. I continue to see the life changing difference Girls Inc. makes every day.

Maybe you had parents or caretakers who helped you with this journey, I certainly did. But many of these girls will be the first in their families to go to college; in fact, many will be the first to graduate high school. Since starting to volunteer with this group I learned during this time that in Orange County there are over 1,250 students for every high school counselor. So where do they turn for support and guidance? Girls Inc. gives them a “girls-only” supportive environment to learn about what courses to take in high school, preparing for entrance exams, how to find scholarships and financial aid, and the life skills to persevere when times g