Girls Inc. Westchester’s after-school programs currently reside in only seven Westchester schools in the cities of Ossining, New Rochelle, Yonkers, and Port Chester; new Executive Director Michelle Nicholas is working to change that.
Nicholas has big goals for the program, which she believes can reach more area girls with more support from the local community.
Michelle A. Nicholas, the new Executive Director of Girls Inc. Westchester.
Currently, Girls Inc. Westchester is funded by private, corporate, and foundation donors including big names such as Simone Development Companies, AETNA, CHUBB, Con Edison, TD Bank, and Colgate-Palmolive Bright Smiles Bright Futures. Average donations range between $50 to $100, contributing to the $3,000 to $5,000 it takes to put one girl through a full year’s program.
The organization’s programs include workshops focusing on STEM, financial literacy, interviewing for jobs, and healthy relationships — which all fall under the Strong Smart Bold curriculum, a tenet of Girls Inc. as a whole. During the school year, the Westchester chapter is aiming to provide their hands-on mentoring program to an additional 100 girls.
Girls Inc. Westchester Participants at the 2019 Annual Gala.
Besides expanding into more schools in Westchester, Nicholas wants the programs to extend into libraries and community centers as to encapsulate all areas of the girls’ lives.
“I am committed to our girls,” says Nicholas. “We work hard to do our girls justice.” Recently, Girls Inc. Westchester also named a new Board Chair, Katrine Beck. “I’m excited to help the organization grow and to spread the word about this amazing group and its mission,” says Beck of her new level of involvement.
2019 Girls Inc. Westchester participants at their annual “College Shower.”
Among the things needed to ensure the success of these girls, according to Nicholas, are financial support, word of mouth aiding to spread the organization’s mission of developing strong, smart, and bold girls, and donations as simple as after-school snacks and drinks
On a larger scale, Nicholas hopes to receive enough monetary donations to purchase a Girls Inc. building where the organization can host conferences, programs, and activities. Nicholas wants Girls Inc. to run during summer break as a consistent safe space for its members.
Former Girls Inc. Westchester Board Member Judy Bartlett, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Girls Inc. Westchester Executive Director Michelle A. Nicholas at the annual College Shower in 2019.
In order to expand Girls Inc.’s services, Nicholas is working to fundraise an additional $250,000 over the next year. Her hope is that donors will give their employees a chance to volunteer, encourage mentorships with the girls, offer member office visits, or compensate a form of transportation so the girls can expand their horizons in the career world.
“Girls Inc. Westchester will be a household name. The need is great,” says Nicholas. “You need to know why we’re doing [what we’re doing] and how to get involved.”