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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

GirlForward

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Youth Development Programs

Mission: GirlForward is a community of support dedicated to creating and enhancing opportunities for girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution.

Target demographics: adolescent refugee girls

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 100 refugee girls

Geographic areas served: Chicago, IL and Austin, TX

Programs: the Mentoring Program, Camp GirlForward and the Safe Spaces Project.

Community Stories

35 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for GirlForward on a few different occasions, and each time I have been blown away by what a great organization it is, the heart and professionalism of the people involved and the amazing affect of the work they are doing. GirlForward is clearly providing an outstanding community of support for its girls, harboring incredible success and forging lasting friendships. I am so glad it has been able to grow and I can't wait to see what a difference it will make in the world.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

Girlforward puts refugee girls on the path to achieving the American Dream not just for themselves but for their families and communities. In the year that I have been on the board, I've seen firsthand how a little support, access to information, and friendship can change the lives of girls. Girls with mentors are more likely to graduate high school, pursue college, and achieve financial independence. When girls succeed, it has a ripple effect on their families and communities. I’ve come to think of Girlforward as the stone that starts the ripple.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered in the Chicago refugee community for three years. Knowing the services available and remaining needs, I am grateful GirlForward is doing incredible work to fill the needs our refugee services can't all fill. They saw an important global and local need for an underserved population, and are working from the community level up to create sustainable change. GirlForward and similar organizations will be responsible for changing global inequalities for girls. I'm so proud to be a part of the movement, and to know a powerful, well run non-profit that changes girls' lives everyday.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I've had the pleasure of watching GirlForward grow from a strong willful, desire in the eye of its founder to do better for teenage refugee girls in Chicago into a organization with multiple locations and amazing staff and stories of dozens of lives touched and irrevocably improved. It's an amazing achievement and one that, even with the organization's successes, can and will grow in the coming years.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently interning with this organization and am very impressed with how well it is run. The staff members communicate very well and are very dedicated to their mission of serving young girls in the refugee community. It's clear that they put a lot of time and love into their work. GirlForward is a valuable asset to the Rogers Park community!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with this organization for a long time. It is a wonderful, well run and energetic place to give my time. I am thrilled with the staff and the progress that I see with the girls that are served.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This fall I am an intern at GirlForward and am so grateful to be part of a great team dedicated to providing services and resources to refugee girls in Chicago. This non-profit focuses on the importance of refugee girls investing in their futures by focusing on the girls English skills by providing after school tutoring, a mentorship program, and Camp GirlForward. These opportunities provide the girls with a support network to encourage them to further their education as many strive to go to college.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently an intern at GirlForward. I think that the work they are doing is truly amazing and impacts our community positively. Girls come here and know that they are in a safe space where they can get help with homework, ACT prep, and many other things. Truly a great nonprofit!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first heard about GirlForward through a friend in 2013. I attended one of their events and quickly saw what an important and influential organization GirlForward is for the Chicago community. Since then, I have continued to support GirlForward and even had the opportunity to visit their office. Their programming and even their space itself provide vital resources for refugee girls. Last year, I volunteered to run the Women's Magnificent Mile 5K on behalf of GirlFoward and had the opportunity to run with several girls--most of whom had never run a race before. This race was just one example of how GirlForward provides unique opportunities for girls to become empowered. GirlForward is in the process of expanding to Austin, Texas, and I couldn't be happier to see this great organization grow.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I interned with GirlForward this past summer and I honestly couldn't have found a better way to spend my time. It's such a great organization that truly puts girls first. Not only does GF offer a myriad of educational programs, it offers social support as well. The staff takes the time to get to know the girls personally, and I've experienced firsthand the friendly, safe, and open environment GF provides. A lot of great work is done in the small office GF calls home, and I'm so glad the organization exists to meet the needs of these amazing girls.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My co-worker told me about this cause and I decided to check it out. I am so impressed by the caliber of volunteers and staff, not to mention the focused work they are doing with this population of girls in need right here in our city. I'm proud to donate to Girlforward and can't wait to watch them grow!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with GirlForward two summers ago, and it was the most amazing environment that I have ever worked in. GirlForward truly has the best interests of the girls it serves at heart, and the organization's care for the individuals they work with is apparent in all the work they do. This is an organization that truly values the skills and talents of all the people who volunteer with them, and uses those talents to reach out directly to the girls it serves to make tangible positive impacts in their lives. GirlForward is a small organization, but it's flexibility and creativity ensures that it has a huge impact on the girls it serves. This is a wonderful organization that listens to and values the people it serves in order to provide the best services possible, and it deserves recognition for that. Keep up the good work, Blair, Ashley, Abi and all the volunteers! Seeing the work GirlForward does inspires me daily and keeps my hopes up.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

After spending my summer working with a broad array of the refugee population, I can't imagine a better program to fill a more urgent need. There is such a compelling need to address the issues of not only refugees as a whole, but so much so for the most vulnerable among them. Adolescent girls are largely underserviced in the refugee community because of their unique needs. GirlForward provides a space to address such unique needs, including the emotional toll of leaving a homeland in distress, the everyday concerns of an adolescent girl, cultural orientation and culture shock, changing roles within families and friends, academic performance for interrupted educations, etc. The impact they have in the lives of their clients and the refugee community is immeasurable.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Girl forward fills a much needed nonprofit role in our Chicago community and in the nonprofit industry. I am proud to support their efforts and very pleased with the consistent progress, advocacy and overall programmatic quality.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love GirlForward! GirlForward provides a safe, fun, enriching environment that any young woman would enjoy. In fact, the happy times I've volunteered there have enriched my life. The mentorship the organization provides to refugee teens seems to me the best way to ensure these young women's futures. Not only do they provide a safe, stylish space, academic enrichment, field trips, college and career programs, mentorship and more; they do so in a fun, nurturing, accepting environment. GirlForward provides a bridge to understanding, self-awareness and success for each young participant. It has been my pleasure to occasionally volunteer with this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GirlForward truly empowers young refugee women! They provide safe spaces for the girls to go around the community, help with schoolwork, and present opportunities for them to get to know others within GirlForward and around the neighborhood. It is a very welcoming and worthwhile organization!

Kaitlin M.

Donor

Rating: 5

GirlForward identifies and serves a cause that many overlook. As much as American-born girls can benefit from empowering, educational and service-based programming, the benefit for refugee girls is even more significant. The organization continues to grow and thrive in Chicago, and it isn't a leap to imagine it expanding to other markets where it can be equally impactful.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GIrlForward's programs are holistic, energizing, and relevant. The girls are a joy to be around and it is obvious that the programs the agency provides are impacting the girls. From one-on-one college counseling and walk-in homework help to ACT prep and ESL classes, the agency makes certain its girls are excelling academically. Beyond academics, GirlForward creates a space for girls from all over to come and be themselves. They come to GF headquarters for the friendships they make here and for the environment GF provides for them to grow into themselves. As a volunteer of only a few months, I have seen all of this firsthand. What a wonderful addition to the Edgewater community.

Donor

Rating: 5

I wanted to help refugees who had been relocated to Chicago from around the world. After I searched through different agencies, I found GirlForward. Wow, I can say that this organization is helping refugee girls in very real ways every single day. I can see my money at work in after-school tutoring programs and in their academic summer camp. I feel like this is a charity that knows its mission, carries it out effectively, and has clear, well-budgeted goals for future growth. I am a happy donor!

Board Member

Rating: 5

During the two years I've volunteered as a board member for Girlforward, I've seen the organization grow at a healthy fast pace, and I've watched the girls they serve transform and thrive. GirlForward's program model is exemplary - the staff have done a tremendous job really getting to know the needs and wants of the girls, and making sure they fulfill those needs. The staff and volunteers are so passionate and invested in the mission - and it truly shows! If you haven't been to a GirlForward event, I encourage you to join us soon and see first-hand what an incredible organization it is!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My time spent with GirlForward could not have been better. This is an organization that cares so much about their participants and cares even MORE about the future of the girls. From educational classes and courses, mentor ship, creating a safe space, and much more - GF does such wonderful work. I am proud to say I was a part of this great group and expect to see great things in the future.

Evelyn105

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with Girl Forward has been a rewarding experience. I have been helping the girls with English language learning and their homework once a week. The staff is very helpful and the students are eager to learn. I always look forward to spending time with them and enjoyed getting to know each student. It is inspiring to see girls thriving when they come from a refugee background and Girl Forward is a safe space where girls can flourish.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The time that I spent interning with GIrlforward has been one of my most influential summers. The investment and passion of the staff and volunteers is inspiring. The relationships formed between the girls and staff are very real, and very strong. I always cherish my time with Girlforward, it's a privilege to be apart of such a remarkable community of women.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been a privilege to volunteer with GirlForward. This agency is really something that the community needs, and I have seen first hand what a difference it makes in the lives of the young women it serves.

Joy_21

Donor

Rating: 5

I feel the work GirlForward does with refugee girls is so important because it helps the girls in all phases of their lives--school, personal safety, finances, college preparation, cultural knowledge. They also have fun and receive lots of encouragement to be their best. The director, Blair Brettschneider, is determined, smart, dedicated and really cares about each girl. She is quite amazing!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mentoring with GirlForward is an amazing volunteer experience. Their mentorship program is designed brilliantly. The girls are able to decide what's most important to them and set goals for their future, and as a mentor, you have the amazing experience of learning about their goals and ambitions and helping them find the rights tools to accomplish them.

Board Member

Rating: 5

This fabulous organization educates and empowers refugee girls. The benefits of its education and mentorship programs are life-changing. GirlForward assists in easing the transition into life in the U.S. Its programs help the girls learn to navigate the education system and the working world. This organization is fulfilling a previously overlooked need in our society. Success stories abound and demonstrate that GirlForward is fulfilling its mission.

Board Member

Rating: 5

GirlForward is one of the few organizations in the Chicago area that focus solely on adolescent refugee girls. Most of these girls resettled in the Chicago area are coming from war torn areas, regions of economic depression, and areas where the educational and professional options for women are undeveloped. GirlForward fills a niche by providing strong role models for these adolescent girls and gives them the support and tools to explore their academic and professional goals in the United States. I have been impressed by the girls I have met, their dedicated mentors, and the passion of the founder and Executive Director Blair.

Donor

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of attending a GirlForward graduation ceremony for their summer camp a few months ago. Wow! I was so impressed. These young refugee girls have overcome so many challenges in life, yet I have never seen a more happy, positive group of girls. They were asked to speak about their future careers and all of them dreamed of jobs that would allow them to help as many people as possible. These future doctors, nurses and teachers also hope to return to countries many of them were forced to leave and help future generations. Amazing. Bravo to the staff at GirlForward.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience at GirlForward has definitely been the highlight of my year. After working with Chicago's refugee community for the past four years, it's wonderful to see an organization that focuses specifically on adolescent girls. GirlForward does a fantastic job of addressing the challenges of refugee life while simultaneously providing the time and space to make friends and just be girls! It is so important to provide and maintain a space like this for a population that can sometimes feel as though they are caught between two worlds. I especially love GirlForward's mentorship program because it connects participants with intelligent, successful, and independent women they can look to for help and inspiration as they navigate the challenges they face as both American teenage girls and as refugees. I feel honored to have contributed to the success of GirlForward, and I can't wait to see all of these amazing girls become the incredible community leaders they are destined to be!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As the only organization that serves adolescent refugee girls, GirlForward is a vital resource in the Chicago community. Girls who are a part of this organization benefit greatly from the services provided and it is extremely motivating to see witness their achievements. From receiving assistance with the college application process, to meeting with a personal mentor each week, the girls of GirlForward have access to resources that every young woman should be provided to become both educated and independent. Staff and members of GirlForward enjoy working together to provide these resources, and to create an environment in which refugee girls can continue to reach their goals.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Having worked with many non-profits over the years, I can honestly say that GirlForward's mission and vision are exemplified in everything they do, and I am proud to have worked with them. The mission to empower adolescent refugee girls in the Chicagoland area is novel. The young women that GirlForward serves are often overlooked because they are overburdened with responsibilities within their homes and at school. GirlForward's Safe Spaces and Mentorship Programs help to bring focus to these young women and provide them a supportive and safe atmosphere to get the educational help and personal support they need in order to excel and become independent. The girls that benefit from GirlForward's programs are paving a pathway to creating a viable and independent future for themselves, because they are getting the guidance and support they need in order to become leaders for other women in their community.

Julie98

Board Member

Rating: 5

GirlForward was started after identifying a real need in the Chicago refugee community. In just over a year the organization has moved from an idea to a real asset in the community, changing the lives of the girls who participate. The organization has been especially effective in networking in the community and using social media to expand its support base. It has also gained support from other larger organizations in Chicago, including the Chicago Foundation for Women. The financial stewardship has been exemplary, and the organization is utilizing professional advisors to improve the operational effectiveness. The passion and dedication of the volunteers, the board, and the staff will fuel the continued growth of GirlForward.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have served on several boards over the years, working with the homeless, the Junior League and mostly, with refugee causes and in just a year of working with this young organization, I have never been more inspired or rewarded by a cause. The volunteers and board are clearly and enthusiastically focused on their mission. The mentors are downright inspirational in their dedication. They meet weekly with their girls and are talented, positive, encouraging role models. The refugee girls are filled with hope, ambition and energy. They have mountains to climb in their new life here in the US - the struggle may seem endless, but they are determined and with GF helping them every step of the way, they are already starting to see their dreams come true. I hope I can help GF grow its programs and find the funding to continue its important work. GF spreads hope, strengthens families, builds leaders, and helps an often invisible, forgotten population step into the light and shine.

Review from Guidestar

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

This forward thinking organization of young and caring professional women does a great deal to pay it forward by mentoring and empowering teen refugee girls in Chicago. Blair and Charlotte and all the crew at GirlForward are energetic and thoughtful social entreprenuers who are doing a great service among the most marginalized in our communities. I promise your contributions are well spent by these capable hands. I have been deeply impressed by their commitment and their success in building a non-profit organization that is efficient and effective.

Review from JustGive