Girls Empowered

1,196 Girls Empowered...and counting!

The Columbia College Girls Empowered program is a collaborative partnership with regional school districts to provide a year-long intensive leadership development program for 8th grade girls. The mission of the program is to raise the levels of courage, confidence, commitment and competence among the young women we serve, while encouraging the girls to develop their own unique leadership gifts. The program was developed to serve girls at a critical time in their leadership trajectory and to help them prepare for opportunities and challenges in high school. Girls Empowered is currently offered in three school districts: Lexington-Richland 5, Richland 2 and Orangeburg 5.

The Girls Empowered program was originally designed to be an extension of the College’s Summer Leadership Institute, a series of overnight residential camps for young women in rising 9-12th grades. Over the course of Girls Empowered, participants learn about and practice skills toward conflict resolution, problem solving, decisions making, team building, time management, organizational skills and communication necessary for academic and professional success, with an emphasis on the College’s “4 Cs of Leadership Development: Courage, Commitment, Confidence and Competence.” 
Session activities include personality assessments and custom reports, personal marketing brochure, values auction game, brainstorming and consensus building activities, community service projects and public speaking/communications skills practice with feedback. To bridge the connections among the generations of women we serve, we utilize student workers, guest facilitators and mentors and we also engage professional women as session guests and volunteer guest speakers to become inspirational mentors to the young women.

Girls Empowered Impact Results

We know leadership can be learned. We know that learning leadership changes the ways girls see themselves and thus changes their future choices. Our results over the past six years indicate that the same model for teaching girls with demonstrated leadership interests has the same impact with girls who have not demonstrated that inclination. We have also demonstrated teaching leadership to girls and encouraging them to use that leadership to improve the community changes the culture of leadership in the schools with which we work.
All of the girls in this program face high expectations for achievement in some or all of the following: grades, sports, leadership and socializing. The curriculum, based on our Center’s research, offers leading-edge practices in young women’s leadership development and is designed address those expectations and these common problems among girls:
  1. Understanding and choosing healthy relationships, including negative relationships with other girls
  2. Making smart and sound decisions 
  3. Ethical decision-making 
  4. Girls’ body image and self-esteem 
  5. Girls’ reluctance to continued advanced STEM coursework
  6. Communications skills
  7. Girls’ loss of voice
  8. Stress, depression and anxiety
  9. Competition for (boys) attention
  10. Career clarification
We tabulate responses in the pre-program application and conduct mid- and end-of program assessments, in which the students rate their skills and provide qualitative feedback about the program.

In Their Words – End of Program Feedback from Graduates

  • Girls Empowered taught me to speak up and have my thoughts heard. I also learned how to be a better leader and not someone who is just bossy.
  • Skills such as leadership and perseverance really helped me.
  • I consider myself a better person – someone who can change and help others.
  • I am a stronger leader. I help others commit to more things and when people ask my opinion, I give them the best I can. Before I would just be quiet. 
  • I feel more prepared for high school and for life. I am ready to be a leader.

Bring Girls Empowered to Your School

We look forward to connecting with new partners. For information about the curriculum and getting your school connected to our program, contact Jen Hunsicker (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 803.786.3894).