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“What Did You Do This Summer?”

As our girls head back to school this year, they will inevitably be faced with questions about what they did over the summer—and they will have some extraordinary answers.

A high school girl will talk about how, during a tour of Southern California colleges, she got to see first-hand the colleges she had been considering for years—and gained surprising new perspectives on which might be the best fit. A middle school girl will talk about how it felt to go on a field trip where she designed and presented an app in front of STEM professionals, and met a successful STEM employee who was the first in her family to go to college. And an elementary school girl will talk about some of the strong, smart and bold characters she read about as she grew her literacy skills during camp this summer.

Researchers credit “summer learning loss” for about half the difference in academic achievement between lower and higher income students. At Girls Inc., our girls are heading back to school having made significant summer learning gains.

When Eureka participants Lissette and Yi Qing are asked what they did this summer, they will be able to produce an entire slideshow. These high school girls participated in a communications internship where they were asked to document and create a presentation on the entire Eureka summer program. Despite some initial trepidation, the girls ventured to organizations from Fathom 3D Printing to the Oakland Police Department to document girls’ participation and growth during their internships.

Lissette and Yi Qing quickly got the hang of their job, and their peers demonstrated similar growth. As girls interning at Gap Inc. commented, “We learned to always [be] empathic regardless of title or status, to never underestimate the importance of networking, set small ‘sticky note’ goals in order to work towards a greater goal, and the importance of having an open mindset” (more on Gap here). Another participant stated about her internship and mentorship experiences, “Because of Girls Inc., I am going to become a Biological Engineer.”

At the end of the summer, Lissette’s and Yi Qing’s work documenting the Eureka! program was premiered at the end-of-summer Eureka celebration in front of their peers, families, and community members. And their stories and photographs are being used in Girls Inc. communications, including this very newsletter. As Yi Qing says of her time in Eureka: “as three summers [in Eureka] have gone by, I have gotten a taste of what it means to be independent and the importance of an open mindset. As these summers have passed, I learned to stronger, smarter, and more bold.”