Girls Empowerment Network is expanding its school-based Girl Connect intervention program by establishing services in Bexar County and San Antonio.

According to a release, a $7,500 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation and a $10,000 grant from the Women & Girls Development Fund will provide the seed money for this expansion.

The release said Girl Connect uses partnerships with local schools to build groups customized to meet the needs of high-risk girls ages 8-18 with a goal of encouraging girls to believe they can be successful.

Girls may be referred to the Girl Connect program for disciplinary issues, exhibiting outbursts in class, fighting, self-harm, anxiety, involvement with the juvenile justice system, frequent truancy and more. Some girls are referred directly, and others are recruited by school partners who identify them as high-risk and in need of support, the release said.

“Our expansion into Bexar County is building on the conversations we’ve had with several school districts in the San Antonio area that are looking for a partner who can help girls adopt a growth mindset, advocate effectively for themselves and change the trajectory of their lives,” GEN Executive Director Julia Cuba Lewis said in a statement.

“Our ultimate goal is to increase girls’ self-efficacy by developing what we call the six Cs—critical thinking, creativity, communication, coping skills, collaboration and confidence—all essential tools for long-term well-being and resilience.”

Officials with Girls Empowerment Network say the Girl Connect program has helped to reduce and prevent girls’ disciplinary issues; increase their self-efficacy, bonding and prosocial behaviors; and improve academic achievement, attendance and behavior. The program currently takes place at schools in the Austin area, Houston and Dallas.

“Girl Connect fills the gaps for thousands of at-risk girls across Texas, meeting them where they are, teaching important socio-emotional skills and providing a safe place to practice them among a small group of peers and supportive role models,” Cuba Lewis said.

“Whether girls join the group voluntarily or are referred, they soon treasure the activities and supportive community, which helps them persist in their academic and life goals.”

Girl Connect groups meet weekly for eight to 20 weeks, creating consistency and a sense of safety for girls, according to the release. Historically, girls who are referred come from low-income households and report tough situations at home, GEN officials said.

With funding from the Texas Bar Foundation, Girls Empowerment Network has had success in establishing Girl Connect in Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell, Harris and Dallas counties, the release said.

For more program information, visit