Right in our own backyard, Just for Girls offers hope, resources, and compassion for girls.
The organization started almost 50 years ago and focuses on helping girls ages 5 through 17 to improve their education, build confidence, and reduce high-risk behaviors.
Just for Girls does this with its elementary alternative education program (kindergarten through fifth grade) in East Bradenton and middle school-age (sixth through eighth grade) in Palmetto. Both JFG Elementary and JFG Middle alternative education programs are under the Manatee County School District.
Just for Girls also offers before and after school programs as well as Scholastic Saturdays and summer programs, supported by program administrator and BNI member Ann White. In addition to its alternative education and before/aftercare programs, Just for Girls also
Just for Girls serves more than 500 girls a year and operates more than 250 days per year from
Although its numbers are impressive, the real story behind Just for Girls is the impact it makes in improving lives. On a regular basis, the extra time offered to help girls with their educational level translates into improved grades. “We’ve seen girls restore prior years of learning deficits with significant progress in just one year,” White says.
A program called Baby Think It Over—used in JFG Middle to create awareness about the realities of having a baby—helps deter teen pregnancy. And even parents get help through free regular seminars on topics like budget planning, domestic abuse, and resume building.
Just for Girls takes its students on regular field trips to places like Mote Marine Laboratory and Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) experiential equine (horse) therapy. A new initiative, Reading Buddies, will help girls in the program develop compassion and learn how to safely and kindly interact with dogs, and they’ll eventually have the chance to read to dogs at local animal shelters.
The reality for many of the girls is tough—many come from a single-parent household with a mom or dad who works two or three jobs. “We’re helping to end poverty among women and children and show them with education, you can be anything,” White says.
Just for Girls has been recognized for its excellent work by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Education’s Drug-Free Schools Recognition Program, and the Florida Department of Children and Families, among other groups. The program has also helped many women in Manatee County who have gone on to success, including local business owners.
Any parent or guardian of a 5-17-year-old girl in Manatee or surrounding counties can qualify for help from Just for Girls. For more information, visit their website at www.justforgirls.org. Or, call 941-747-5757.
Just for Girls also regularly accepts donations to help support the programs and its student scholarships.
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