How We Can Better Serve Chicago’s Young People

For the last year, REACH (Between Friends’ teen dating violence prevention and education program) has gathered a cohort from different service organizations to discuss how we can collaborate to better serve young people in Chicago. Every few months, three of our staff members have gathered with a group of other representatives from Chicago nonprofits to share ideas and discuss how we can support each other.

It’s been both practical (Where are our sites? What do we evaluate?) and philosophical (How do our organizations differ? How do we complement one another?). First and foremost, learning is a lot of fun. Second, it’s enormously helpful to see your work through others’ eyes.

Sometimes, we were a few steps ahead on a problem another organization was still trying to solve. Other times, someone was asking a question we hadn’t even thought of asking.

Being in such a passionate, intelligent brain trust reminded me of one of my favorite parts of Girls in the Game: the emphasis on collaboration. As a noncompetitive organization, teamwork is always central to our programs.

Curriculum is explicit about nurturing healthy, supportive relationships and recognizing individual strengths. That shows up in a number of ways, starting with how we coach. Every coach leads programming with a co-coach, who is there for a different perspective and for tangible support, which, among other things, is very important for coordinating bathroom breaks. More importantly, co-coaches model collaboration and trust.

Coach Tierra and Coach Kayla co-lead programming

Being part of a team has its own particular benefits to girls. As we’re quick to point out,

90% of women in leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies played team sports (Ernst & Young)

We believe girls learn to be leaders not just by recognizing their own strengths, but by recognizing the strengths in other girls.

Girls having fun in their Halloween costumes at an After School site

As I get ready for our last Learning Collaborative session, I’m excited to check in with my cohort. I’m excited to share what we’ve been working on, and to hear about their plans and current projects. Mostly, I’m excited to have new teammates with different perspectives and strengths, committed to making Chicago a better place for young people.

Next Step

If you want to empower girls in your life check out our free #girlpower guide

One last thing…

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Kaylise Algrim is the Office Manager at Girls in the Game