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TOWN TALK [ stand by me Girls Incorporated by becky mollenkamp It’s a common story: A 13-year-old girl falls in with the wrong crowd, starts skipping school and watches idly as her grades tumble. The difference, however, is the young girl in this story had attended after-school programs at Girls Incorporated of St. Louis since she was 7, and when she started acting out, her mentor noticed and took action. “We had a choice,” says Cheryl Jones, president and CEO of Girls Incorporated. “We could kick her out of the program or we could try to help her.” Jones chose the latter. “She decided she was better than how she was showing up. She’s now a sophomore with a 4.0 GPA, and she wants to become a doctor or pharmacist.” Girls Incorporated of St. Louis offers summer, after-school and outreach programs in safe environments to more than 5,000 girls, ages 5 to 17, each year. Most of them come from underserved city and North County school districts. The organization uses educational curricula, delivered by trained professionals, to help young girls achieve academically, lead healthy and physically active lives, understand media messages, and develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and math. “Our organization exposes girls to the possibilities,” Jones says. “If you put a dream in front of anyone and show them how to get there, it can become their reality.” Part of the 150-year-old Girls Inc. national nonprofit, the St. Louis office was recently named the 2015 affiliate of the year. photo: Lisa Nordmann cover story Girls Incorporated of St. Louis is holding its ninth annual Strong, Smart, Bold Luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton in Clayton on Nov. 19. The event will honor several local chapters of sororities, and pay tribute to girls in its programs who epitomize the organization’s rallying cry: “Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.” Money raised from the luncheon will go toward Girls Incorporated’s sizable transportation costs, Jones says. “Getting safe and reliable transportation for our kids to come from their schools to our center or to go on field trips is the second-largest expense in our budget.” Focusing on the whole child, Girls Incorporated offers programs in art, music, theater, culinary arts, literacy, health and fitness, gardening, character development and more. Jones is particularly proud of Girls Incorporated of St. Louis CEO Cheryl Jones Eureka!, a multi-year program that introduces girls to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Participants spend summer breaks between seventh and 12th grades getting hands-on experience in everything from robotics to computer coding. The sessions are led by professors at the University of Missouri St. Louis and Maryville University, which are partners in the program, and by professionals at MasterCard, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Express Scripts, which sponsor Eureka! “For some of these girls, this is the first time they’ve thought about going to college,” Jones says. “It gives them a chance to have a different trajectory than many of their family members.” Girls Incorporated of St. Louis hosts its ninth annual Strong, Smart, Bold Luncheon Nov. 19 at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. Pictured on the cover: Cheryl Jones, Girls Incorporated of St. Louis CEO; Sydney Mitchell; and Deja Brown. For tickets, call 314.385.8088 or visit Cover design by julie streiler | Cover photo courtesy of Girls Incorporated of St. Louis Calling benefit auctions achieving HIGHER results. 6th Annual ART FROM THE HEART benefitting WE OFFER: • Fundraising gala consultation • Dynamic Benefit Auctioneer Specialist with an entertaining stage performance • Professional Bid Assistants and auction staff Friends of Kids with Cancer 636-295-1370 Toney Thornhill, CAI, BAS Featured in the book Boost Your Benefit Auction th ANNUAL 14 SAVE THE DATE FRIENDS OF BIRTHRIGHT RUN FOR LIFE & LEARNING September 5, 2015 Creve Coeur Lake • • • • 6k Chip-timed Run 6k Walk 1 Mile Fun Run 1/4 Mile Youth Run with FREDBIRD ® REGISTER TODAY AT Questions? Call 314 962 5300 or email TO RAISE FUNDS WHICH PROVIDE SECURE SAFE HOUSING AND EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR BIRTHRIGHT CLIENTS IN FINANCIAL NEED. Thursday, September 24 at 6 p.m. Presented by Mugenast Lexus-St. Louis august 12, 2015 | | 13