PEARLS for Teen Girls Inc. is honored to be one of seven Milwaukee-area organizations selected to receive support from the Burke Foundation. The $300,000, three-year grant will support the 10,000 Girls Initiative, a well-planned, phased strategy of investments and growth designed to bring the proven success of PEARLS to 10,000 at-risk Milwaukee girls.
“PEARLS is grateful to The Burke Foundation for this grant. It is an investment in PEARLS, but more important it is a vote of confidence in our girls, in their dreams and their futures,” said Danae D. Davis, CEO of PEARLS. “The challenges our girls face, and the need for our programs is so vividly clear. We are focused on solutions, and we are creating them every day, one girl at a time, to build a better quality of life for each girl and for our Milwaukee community.”
In 2013, PEARLS served 1,249 girls age 10 to 19 at 28 locations. The majority of PEARLS girls live in neighborhoods faced with the most severe of Milwaukee’s challenges: poverty, food and housing insecurity, struggling schools, high crime, and family distress. PEARLS helps each girl envision a life beyond her circumstances and transform her future. Now in Phase Two, the five-phase 10,000 Girls Initiative will dramatically increase opportunities for Milwaukee girls to develop into confident, self- sufficient, empathetic leaders and overcome negative socio-economic environmental influences. By the end of Phase 2, PEARLS will nearly double the number of girls it serves throughout the city to 2250.
“PEARLS is an impact-based and innovative model that is truly a transformative force within the Milwaukee community. They deliver outstanding results, including their effects on girls within their program in raising their high school graduation rates, college acceptance rates, and lowering teen pregnancy rates,” said Deanna Singh, Executive Director of the Burke Foundation.
The need for PEARLS in Milwaukee—and our effectiveness—has never been clearer.
Milwaukee: 62.8% of Milwaukee Public School students graduate from high school; among African- American girls, the rate is less than 50%.
PEARLS: In the past five years, 98.4% of PEARLS high school seniors graduated from high school. Of those girls, 97.6% earned acceptance to at least one college.
Milwaukee: Milwaukee has one of highest rates of child poverty in the nation, and a rate of births to teen mothers that—while substantially improved recently—remains unacceptably high at 25.7 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 17.
PEARLS: In the past five years, 99.6% of PEARLS girls avoided pregnancy.
PEARLS provides girl-driven, evidence-based programming and strong adult-girl mentorships, to help girls build the self-knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to exercise their personal power, make healthy and wise choices, and build a path to self-sufficient adulthood. PEARLS programs and mentors help girls hold themselves and one another accountable for practicing the traits for which PEARLS is named: Personal Responsibility, Empathy, Awareness, Respect, Leadership, and Support. A substantial and growing body of research in social-emotional learning (emotional intelligence) reflects the critical role these values and skills play in the ability of individuals to succeed in school, in relationships, in the workplace, and as self-sufficient, contributing citizens.
Through the 10,000 Girls Initiative, the PEARLS organization, its donors, volunteers, and community collaboration partners have engaged in rigorous capacity development and operational evaluation processes to ensure that PEARLS continues to provide superior quality, girl-centered, evidence-based programming as it expands to serve more girls.
“The Burke Foundation’s investment in PEARLS is a significant endorsement of our ability to help Milwaukee overcome the significant challenges they face to become self-sufficient, contributing members of the community. Their support, and the support of the many individuals and organizations, locally and nationally, that invest in PEARLS, sends a powerful, inspiring message to these girls that the community believes in them and wants them to succeed,” Davis said.