Girls Empowerment Network expands to San Antonio

Nonprofit Girls Empowerment Network is expanding its school-based Girl Connect intervention program by establishing services in Bexar County and San Antonio. Girl Connect engages parents and guardians through regular phone calls, closed social media groups, email, and campus-based in-person and virtual meetings. (Courtesy Girls Empowerment Network)
Nonprofit Girls Empowerment Network is expanding its school-based Girl Connect intervention program by establishing services in Bexar County and San Antonio. Girl Connect engages parents and guardians through regular phone calls, closed social media groups, email, and campus-based in-person and virtual meetings. (Courtesy Girls Empowerment Network)

Nonprofit Girls Empowerment Network is expanding its school-based Girl Connect intervention program by establishing services in Bexar County and San Antonio. Girl Connect engages parents and guardians through regular phone calls, closed social media groups, email, and campus-based in-person and virtual meetings. (Courtesy Girls Empowerment Network)

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 www.girlsempowermentnetwork.org.

By Edmond Ortiz
Edmond joined Community Impact as a reporter in August 2021, helping to launch new editions in the San Antonio market. Edmond covers various beats in the North San Antonio coverage area. He previously was the main reporter for Local Community News, covering several areas in and around San Antonio, first as a freelancer and then staff member. Prior to that, Edmond was a community news reporter for Prime Time Newspapers and the San Antonio Express-News, including editing two community weeklies. He's a San Antonio native, and studied mass communications at San Antonio College and Texas State University.