In this organization spotlight, the founder and president of GirlAdvocates!, Lauren Caton, talks about what her organization is all about. GirlAdvocates! won Best New Organization at the Swing Out Awards given out last year by the Office of the Dean of Students, and is already making a significant impact on girls and young women in Austin and beyond.
The freedom of adolescence can often cause individuals to follow misguided paths, forming rigid habits and mindsets that may set an unfortunate attitude and tone for the rest of the individual's life. This is a vulnerable time period for many, a time when support and positive encouragement are critical. GirlAdvocates! was founded to provide this support for young girls. Instead of focusing on the negativity that plagues adolescence, our organization instead focuses on bringing out the best in girls through empowerment and development of their inner strength and resilience.
GirlAdvocates! works to empower girls globally, locally and individually through the many programs and opportunities offered to our members, who fulfill our organization's goals. On the global level, we raise funds and awareness for our philanthropy, The Girl Effect, which sponsors educational programming for girls in developing countries. The non-profit also promotes campaigns to include adolescent girls on the post-2015 development agenda that is released by the United Nations every fifteen years. We have been able to raise over $1500 for the cause so far through events such as our annual “We believe in the power of girls” pledge wall. This week, GirlAdvocates! will host a benefit concert on Thursday, April 9th from 7 PM to 2 AM at Spiderhouse Cafe. The following week of April 13 to April 17, or the “Week of the Girl”,will be a week long extravaganza of speakers, engagements and fun, hosted in partnership with Girl Up, a global organization "promotes the health, safety, education, and leadership of girls in developing countries".
On the local level, GirlAdvocates! partners with non-profits in the Austin area whose goals align with our own.. We supply volunteers to GenAustin, GirlStart, Girl’s on the Run, Dress for Success and many other local organizations aimed at empowering young women and girls. Many of our members have dedicated themselves further to these organizations longer after GirlAdvocates! has introduced them, in the form of internships and regular commitments.
On the individual level, our members also have the opportunity to join a mentorship program with Webb Middle School. This year, GirlAdvocates! have supplied over 100 mentors to the school and has been able to establish a significant connection with the school's administration, while our members directly impact the life of the girl they work with by serving as a positive role model. We have even brought the mentees to campus twice to allow them to learn about the college experience and visualize what it takes to get to where their mentors are today. Finally, we provide activities and themed discussions for the mentors and mentees to establish and deepen lasting relationships.
GirlAdvocates! has been grown greatly in their relationship with the University of Texas and Austin community since its founding a year ago, and was the recipient of the “Best New Organization” Swing Out Award last spring, given annually by the Office of the Dean of Students. We are excited to begin our second collegiate chapter at the University of North Texas this coming spring and for the future expansion of the mentoring program and relationships with the community.
If you would like to stay updated with GirlAdvocates! please like our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/girladvocates or our website: www.girladvocates.org. Also, please RSVP to our Benefit Concert on April 9th FB event https://www.facebook.com/events/1627035464174992/