As we rush headfirst into the holiday season, the Women’s Fund team has been reflecting on Feast Table of Our Future, the spoken-word poem Women’s Fund commissioned from Manon Voice to demonstrate the resiliency of women in our community. The Feast Table of Our Future is the inspiration behind our December blog series. We chose to highlight several grantees and talk with them about our collective table.

This year has been hard. For many women and girls in our community, their Feast Table may not only be missing the people they love but may also be missing a nutritious meal. Maybe they don’t even have a table or a safe, affordable place to call home. It’s impossible to hear Manon Voice and not be filled with wonder at the resiliency of the women in our community.

Here’s what we know about the resiliency of Girls Inc. and their thoughts about our table.

COVID-19 has impacted every facet of Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis. Like others, they quickly shifted all in-person events and programs to virtual, eventually shifting back into a hybrid in-person and virtual model by the summer. While virtual programming provided them the opportunity to open their programs to a larger group of young girls, they have truly missed the emotional connections that being together affords. E-learning meant the closing of several sites where programs were offered. The civil unrest our country faces has also altered program topics. Girls Inc. is advocating for racial equity and inclusion in all aspects of their operation, including taking action for racial justice within their programs. Finally, the need to focus on mental health for girls has become an increased priority. Girls Inc. has found innovative ways to provide safe places for the girls – and family members – they serve. 

Girls Inc. has remained a trusted partner and resource throughout 2020. They credit their sustainability to a committed staff, a strong board of directors, and a supportive philanthropic community that believes in investing in our youth. Continued financial support from Women’s Fund has allowed Girls Inc. to focus on quality programming that their girls and families desperately need during a time of uncertainty and change.

What gives Girls Inc. hope is knowing that the girls they serve are strong, smart, and bold – and according to Elyssa Campodonico-Barr, President & CEO – they are resilient and optimistic.

Women’s Fund values its long-time partnership with Girls Inc. and talked with Elyssa about what it means to be together at our community table.

Q.          In your opinion, what does the Women’s Fund table look like?

A.          The Women’s Fund table is a very powerful and necessary one. It’s a table that gives voice to women and girls in an equitable manner. Their table is filled with people who have a deep understanding of the needs of our community. They look at the community through the lens of the women and girls.

Q.          What does the Girls Inc. table look like?

A.           It consists of a beautiful community of girls who feel powerful no matter where they come from. It’s filled with girls, families, investors and community partners who sit side by side to provide opportunities for young women to be successful.  

Q.          What do you hope our community table looks like in the future?

A.           An increasingly diverse table, filled with people who may not usually get invited to the table, but who are welcomed to a seat front and center. It will be a table filled with intentionality, energy, and a sense that everyone belongs.  

Q.          How can Girls Inc. play a role in supporting more women and girls at the community table?

A. We will continue to work hard to be a trusted resource for women and girls and to represent those who are unheard and marginalized. We are also working to create innovative ways to support girls who turn 18. There’s a gap in services for girls 18 and older and we want to empower and support them as they flourish into a successful career.