On September 25, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria (Girls Inc.) will host a virtual version of its annual Evening in Bloom. The event will be the culmination of a month-long fundraising competition, in which teams compete to raise money for its new full-day Out of School Program. To meet the needs brought on by Carpinteria School District classes being online only, Girls Inc. shifted from its traditional after-school program to this 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. program for kindergarten through grade 8.
According to Executive Director Jamie Collins, “Funds received through this virtual fundraiser will enable us to continue offering engaging and meaningful experiences for girls that support their health, academic, and life-skills development.”
Since the start of COVID-19, Girls Inc., whose tag line is “to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold,” has been responsive to the needs of its girls and their families. With the lockdown order in March, the After-School Enrichment program, which served girls from kindergarten to grade 12, went virtual and had more than 600 girls participate over the next three months.
The nonprofit jumped right in with virtual academic support, daily read-alouds, the creation of 47 YouTube videos for hands-on activities at home, and the delivery of STEM kits, books, and supplies.
During this period, staff also did 300 wellness checks with girls and their families because, Collins said, Girls Inc. is a second home for many of these girls and it was important to know that Girls Inc. was there to assist them directly and to connect them with other helpful organizations. A huge number of referrals were made.
Girls Inc. reopened on June 1 for a COVID-style version of its Summer Day Camp, with all the requisite safety protocols in place. Then on August 24, after a month of exhaustive planning involving staff, board members, and representatives from the business and general community, Girls Inc. launched its Out of School Program. It provides distance-learning support in coordination with schools, alerting teachers about students who are struggling, and, according to Collins, working together to ensure that the girls receive all of the support they need to thrive.
Mentoring has always been an important component of the Girls Inc. experience, and in COVID times, maintaining those relationships is more important than ever, Collins said. The goal is to have a safe, nurturing place where girls can have some sense of normalcy.
While the Carpinteria School District provided students with computers, Girls Inc. has extras on hand just in case and upgraded its capacity with Cox Communications to accommodate the significant increase in online usage. Through a partnership with the School District, girls receive breakfast, lunch, and a snack daily. Girls Inc. continues to offer its traditional after-school programming involving literacy work, homework assistance, a STEM-focused curriculum, and physical activity.
With the extended day and COVID cleaning protocols, Girls Inc. had to increase its weekly fee from $100 to $200. Of the 45 students enrolled, about three-quarters receive a partial scholarship, which is based on a sliding scale with a maximum scholarship of 60 percent. Twelve girls will soon receive a full scholarship thanks to a partnership with the United Way of Santa Barbara County.
Girls Inc. has the capacity to increase enrollment to 70 girls. The hope is that Evening in Bloom will raise $250,000, an amount sufficient to fund its operating expenses and offer scholarships to those in need. Nearly 70 percent of members come from low-income families, and according to a recent survey of member families, 80 percent are facing reduced hours, layoffs, or furloughs.
Evening in Bloom, to be held at Westerlay Orchids, will honor Mary Crowley, a longtime Girls Inc. of Carpinteria supporter and past boardmember, who passed away earlier this year. It will feature a live auction, impact stories, and a tribute to Crowley. Girls Inc. of Carpinteria is a member of Girls Incorporated®.
Every day, the staff of the Santa Barbara Independent works hard to sort out truth from rumor and keep you informed of what’s happening across the entire Santa Barbara community. Now there’s a way to directly enable these efforts. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.