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Girls Inc. 2012-2013 Program Evaluation Report

Executive Summary

Girls Incorporated of Memphis is a local affiliate of the national Girls Inc. organization that provides programming that encourages girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Girls Inc. engages girls ages 6-18 through experiences that both discourage negative influences and encourage confidence, leadership, and self-sufficiency.

The Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis (CROW) has conducted the evaluation of local Girls Inc. programming since 2010. This report continues that practice with the results from an evaluation conducted from Fall 2012 through Spring 2013. The report focuses on changes in the mental health, well-being, and behaviors of participants in Girls Inc. Parent intake forms (completed by parents upon enrollment of their daughters) and self-administered surveys (completed by evaluation participants) conducted in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 serve as the basis of the data featured in this report, which is similar in scope to the report provided for 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 program activities.

Based on the goals of Girls Inc. programming, this report is organized around three key program outcomes:
1. Prevent teen pregnancy among Girls Inc. participants
2. Decrease involvement in drugs, tobacco, and alcohol use
3. Improve academic outcomes for program participants.

Preventing Teen Pregnancy. 
About 15% of girls’ parents reported that they never talked about sex with their daughter; thus, a focus on sexuality and contraception is clearly needed for a sizeable portion of program participants. One of the core components of Girls Inc. programming is the Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy curriculum which covers these issues. Survey findings reveal that only 3-5% of girls reported having had sexual intercourse, which is substantially lower than the overall sample of middle and high school students at Memphis City Schools (almost 50%). Of the girls who were sexually active, most reported using condoms.

Drug, Tobacco, and Alcohol.
Rates of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol use among program participants were less than half the use rates of comparison samples of MCS students overall. These rates did not change significantly from the beginning of the year until the end.

Academic Outcomes.
Improving academic outcomes is a major focus of Girls Inc. A majority of girls report high levels of involvement in school and school related activities. Most Girls Inc. participants typically put effort into their homework assignments, turned them in on time, and completed in-class assignments. Additionally, most girls reported that they thought they could prepare a good resume, find information about college, and talk to someone in their field of interest.

Findings from evaluation research indicate that many of the girls who participated in Girls Inc. programming live in environments where they were exposed to many kinds of stressors, including physical violence. Research has demonstrated that these types of contextual factors are complex and can be difficult to overcome (Child Trends Data Bank, 2013). As such, this report also details issues related to delinquency, exposure to violence and victimization, and mental health indicators.

Delinquency, Exposure to Violence, and Victimization.
Survey findings highlight the difficult environments in which participants live. Most report they had seen the police arrest someone, heard gunshots, seen a grown-up hit a kid, and/or seen someone get beat up. Smaller portions report they had been cut or stabbed, jumped, or badly hurt by someone else. Some of the girls reported participating in delinquent activities themselves, though at much lower rates than they experienced violence – with about 19% reporting deliberately damaging property, getting into a fight with a group, or lying to parents. Only a few reported using a weapon (2%) or stealing (6%).

Mental Health.
Recent research has emphasized the prevalence and impacts of mental health problems among low income youth, particularly related to outcomes of teen pregnancy, involvement in drugs and alcohol and academic outcomes (McLeod et al 2012; Turner et al 2000). Compared to community samples, Girls Inc. participants are more engaged in school and have a better body image, however, findings indicate that they experience slightly higher levels of anxiety and depression, and report slightly lower ability to cope with adversity.

Girls Inc. programming emphasizes skills for girls to become strong, smart, and bold. Much of the programming addresses issues of sexual activity and confident leadership, but the intent is to help girls successfully manage their lives overall – relationships, home, school, and the world. Many of these girls face significant obstacles in their lives, and Girls Inc. is providing programming in key areas where girls need extra support.



Girls Inc 2012-2013 Evaluation Report

Read the full report here!

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Last Updated: 2/24/14