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Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois receive grant

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois has received a Corporation for National and Community Service federal grant for Project Opportunity, an AmeriCorps program developed by the regional Girl Scout organization.

Project Opportunity is a youth development and education program for underserved girls, according to a news release from Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois. GSNI has been awarded more than $160,000. By accepting the grant, GSNI has committed to providing a substantial program match with private and in-kind funds.

The organization previously received this grant in 2016 and 2017. More than 1,000 girls have been helped in nine communities across northern Illinois in the program’s first two years.

Girls completed Girl Scout Leadership Experience programming on topics including healthy relationships in Be a Friend, Not a Bully and Be a Friend First; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in Think Like a Citizen Scientist and Think Like an Engineer; the arts in Outdoor Art; peer relationships in Making Friends and Social Butterfly, and financial literacy through the Girl Scout Cookie Program and Money Manager.

As a result of the program, more than 75 percent of girls demonstrated a strong sense of self, showing confidence in themselves and their abilities. More than 70 percent of girls demonstrated positive values, acting ethically, honestly, and responsibly while showing concern for others, while 60 percent of girls demonstrated strong, healthy relationship skills, including the ability to express themselves and resolve conflicts constructively. Eighty percent of girls reported believing that they can do better in school after the Project Opportunity program.

This funding will allow GSNI’s Project Opportunity to engage girls in more than 30 sites across Boone, DeKalb, Kane, McHenry, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties who are not currently served by outreach programs funded by existing donors.

Project Opportunity provides the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to girls affected by poverty and other at-risk factors, including those who face barriers to participating in positive youth development programs.

The AmeriCorps grant will provide resources and AmeriCorps members to help sponsor participation of an additional 800 girls in the Girl Scout program.

“GSNI is excited to be undertaking its third year of this AmeriCorps program,” said the news release. “Over 20 AmeriCorps members will serve in communities across northern Illinois, including two full-time members and 23 part-time members.”

AmeriCorps members will provide Girl Scout Leadership Experience programming through Project Opportunity.

Members will work with existing GSNI partners, including schools and community centers, as well as identify new partners and sites where GSNI can reach girls who might not otherwise have the opportunity to become Girl Scouts. AmeriCorps members will also recruit new volunteers from local communities to help with Project Opportunity programming.

“For over a decade, hundreds of girls have been able to participate in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience,” said the news release. “Girls who participate in the outreach program show strong outcomes towards achievement, such as developing a strong sense of self, thorough understanding of financial literacy, and demonstrating effective problem solving skills. When asked about their participation in Girl Scouts, girls report being excited about making new friends, having the opportunity to learn new things, having fun, and feeling secure in a girl group. One Girl Scout said, ‘In Girl Scouts, I feel like I can be myself!’ GSNI is enthusiastic to expand outreach through Project Opportunity.”

GSNI is currently seeking dedicated individuals who are interested in serving their community as AmeriCorps members. Part-time members are needed across northern Illinois. All members will receive a modest living allowance and ongoing training and development opportunities. To get involved, email americorps@girlscoutsni.org.

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois serves 16 counties, including parts or all of Boone, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago. To volunteer, reconnect, donate or join, visit www.girlscoutsni.org or call 844-GSNI-4-ME (844-476-4463).

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