Girls Inc., a national U.S. nonprofit girls’ organization, aims to encourage all girls to be “strong, smart, and bold.” It operates primarily in low-income neighborhoods by providing informal educational programs to its single-sex youth centers and to affiliate schools, churches, housing projects, and community centers. In 2005, Girls Inc. served approximately 800,000 girls, ages 5 to 18 years.

Girls Inc. traces its origins to the 1860s, when reformers opened girls’ centers in the northeast to offer home like social spaces for young women who were textile and factory workers. In 1945, 19 similar organizations came together to form the Girls Clubs of America, and in 1990, the organization became Girls Inc.

Until the 1970s, activities emphasized traditional female pursuits such as homemaking and developing charm. In response ...

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