GCW: Girls Career Workshop

Rachel Levine, a foundation executive in New York City, co-founded Girls Career Workshop (GCW) to help at-risk girls in public high schools. GCW participants receive course credit and learn practical skills while meeting women in diverse careers. In 2003 the organization was honored as an outstanding private partnership by the New York City School-To-Work Alliance.

When Heather O’Neill, Cristina Rueda, and Erica Wax, wound up in the Big Apple after graduating from the Kennedy School, talk turned to what they might give back to the city. “Girls Career Workshop strikes a balance between breadth and depth,” said writer Molly Lanzarotta.

Levine was born and raised in New York City and in 1995 she began an internship with producer Dean Silvers and decided to pursue a career in cinematography. She currently works as an assistant on big budget commercials and independent features including “Roger Dodger” and soon to be released “PS” and “Thumbsucker.” “GCW is also aspirational and practical,” said Wax in a recent article.

A recent study of at-risk youth completed by the Community Network for Youth Development in San Francisco, CA demonstrated that young people who succeed in the face of difficult circumstances have the advantage of three critical elements in their lives: caring relationships, high, clear, and fair expectations, and opportunities for participation and contribution.

“I applied to colleges and I’m going to LaGuardia for the medical field, the EMT courses,” said one student in the article. More than half of Arizona charter schools and the large majority of the state’s charter high schools specialize in educating at-risk children. “At the beginning we ask students what jobs they’re interested in,” Rueda said in a recent interview.

Charter schools are commonly founded as schools for students that may not be served well by traditional public schools in their communities like at-risk students or those with special education needs.

“To reach our principal goal of achieving positive outcomes for all students we must improve the outcomes for those students who are failing or who are in danger of failing,” said Julie Cain, executive director of Seattle SCORES, a mentoring program. “Today’s teachers face unfathomable challenges.”

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, research has found that as girls enter adolescence their capacity to “find their own voice” and express their authentic selves conflicts with new social pressure to maintain tension-free relationships and prioritize physical appearance.

For many students and female students in particular, schools are not safe places and pervasive violence is affecting them everywhere, according to the American Psychological Association. Drug use among teens is an increasing public concern, as always, in addition to a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, states the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

More teens than ever are putting themselves at risk during spring break, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. A recent report shows that more teens start using marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol for the first time between the spring and summer months. The research states that spring break is a very important time in the eyes of teens.

Reuters reported on March 7th on a study which appeared in the March 2006 issue of the journal, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, which found that teen girls who are depressed are more likely to be involved in abusive relationships as adults.

In the past few years, research on the well-being of the population has expanded to include at risk children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. At risk conditions may come from sources other than the individuals themselves, according to research. Factors individually include having at least one disability, being kept back a grade, speaking English less than very well, not living with both parents, either parent having emigrated in the past five years, having a family income of below $10,000, and having neither parent/guardian employed.

For the race and ethnicity groups identified there are more sizable differences.

Understanding the factors that may put a teen at risk for academic failure will help parents determine if their child needs additional support, according to the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Campaign.

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