By Ana Laura Araya

It might be a surprising fact – and a sad truth – that there are more girls living in poverty in Atlanta than in any other city in the United States.

Fortunately, there is an Atlanta-based organization putting all of its efforts into changing this fact. Cool Girls, Inc., a non-profit that has been one fundamental source for change and motivation for girls in low-income communities during the past 22 years, is committed to broadening the opportunities of girls and guiding them into making life-changing choices.

Over 350 girls in Atlanta are currently enrolled in Cool Girls’ programs, all which are free of charge. Their core program is an extensive after-school program for girls in second to eight grade called ‘Cool Girls Club’. This program is currently active in nine schools and includes tutoring as well as other unique components: life skills lessons and a Cool Tech and Cool Fitness program.

Cool Girls hosts various workshops and fieldtrips throughout the year and has a mentoring program that matches professional women with girls. It also awards college scholarships to girls who have outstanding academic achievement and are involved in community service.

Through complimenting programs, girls learn about concepts they typically do not learn during school or at home, such as conflict resolution, pregnancy prevention and friendship.

“A lot of girls don’t have an idea of what it is to be trustworthy,” said Carla Taylor, a site coordinator at Clifton Elementary School. “We teach them how to be a friend and how to be trustworthy to people.”

Site manager April Guy agreed. “Our programs expand girls’ horizons by first teaching the importance of self-esteem and self-worth. We teach them to dream big and soar high but, more importantly, that their dreams are important.”

Recent studies by the Center for Disease Control and Georgia State University have proved that Cool Girls have more confidence in their decision-making skills, maintain higher grade point average and have an increase level of knowledge about drugs, nutrition, physical activity and pregnancy.

“My favorite thing about Cool Girls is that we get to go on trips and learn about things we didn’t learn before. I also learn to keep your body healthy and strong,” said second-grader Meyonna Hammock.

To donate or learn more about Cool Girls, check out their site at thecoolgirls.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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