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Empowering Girls To Be Their True Selves

When it come to empowering girls to be their authentic selves and to boldly pursue their dreams, nobody does it better than Girls In The Know (GITK). Founded in 2009, GITK has already reached more than 2,500 middle school age girls and their parents (or caregivers) and given them the strategic tools they need to navigate through the challenging adolescent years. It’s not easy growing up in today’s world, and young girls have more pressure than ever to conform to unrealistic standards. Again, that’s when GITK comes into play.


GITK Teen Ambassadors, Tina, Akeesha, and Melanie

On Thursday, October 5, 5:30-8 p.m., GITK will hold its annual fundraising gala “Knowledge & Power, small bites & big ideas,” that promises to be a feel good evening with meaning. The event is open to women and men and anyone with a special young girl in their life and features dynamic Keynote Speaker Debra Hollingsworth, Cardinals Care Director and MC Keith Brooks, scrumptious small bites from BBQ caterer Salt + Smoke, big ideas from inspiring speakers, and to top it off spectacular panoramic views of downtown St. Louis from Vue 17, in Brentwood. Proceeds benefit the GITK Outreach Program, which provides educational programs to girls living in low-income communities in the St. Louis Public Schools district. Currently, more than 300 middle school age girls are on the waiting list to participate in this fun, interactive curriculum.

Middle schoolers are engaged in fun, interactive discussions.

When it comes to inspiring girls and women, Debra means business. After a 35-year career with SBC/AT&T, this powerhouse with a big heart managed the multi-million dollar philanthropic fund and has become a familiar face in the local nonprofit community. She has won many awards and honors for her leadership in women’s causes and is a real game changer as a community advocate, influential philanthropist, and role model to young girls. On Thursday night, Debra will talk about the “ripple effect” of doing good.

Keynote Speaker Debra Hollingsworth is a mentor to young girls.

“The ripple effect describes the impact we have in our circle of influence.  Everything we do has an impact on others.  This means, every word we speak, each action we take and our mere presence impacts others, even people we do not know.  We are constantly being observed and hopefully our interactions will positively impact others on their life journey,” said Debra, who knows firsthand how GITK makes a difference in the lives of young girls, our future leaders of tomorrow. She is the grandmother of two preteen girls, who have participated in the GITK program.

“Being a mentor to young girls is very important because they need to see strong women in positions of power and authority who speak honestly about the challenges they’ve faced climbing the professional ladder.”

Moms and their daughters build stronger bonds through GITK.

This nonprofit organization is the ONLY one of its kind to offer educational programs for preteen girls AND their moms (or dad, relative , guardian, or an adult who loves them) so that they can work together to build strong bonds and initiate conversations about important topics, such as bullying, peer pressure, nutrition, sex, puberty, healthy body image, safety, social media, and other crucial issues.

Giggles are permitted in GITK workshops!

GITK wants every girl, whether her family can afford it or not, to benefit from these important programs and workshops, including a four-week speaker series which is taught by licensed professionals in their fields, including pediatricians, counselors, police officers, and educators. And the best part—GITK participants can also learn from their own peers! Teen Ambassadors reach out to schools and share with their classmates what they have learned from GITK.

“I’m not scared to speak up, because Girls in the Know helped me build my confidence. It opened me up to more things, so I’m braver to do things,” said Akeesha Pettis, who participated in a fully funded workshop in St. Louis Public Schools in 2015 and is now using her leadership skills to encourage others as an eighth grader at Busch Middle School.

Professionals teach classes, covering nutrition, puberty and other important topics.

“I’m not always the type to stay in a lot of things, like if I feel like I don’t like it I’ll just give up. With Girls in the Know, at first I was like “eh,” but then when the officer came in and started to explain about peer pressure and how to stay safe I was like “I need to stay in this.” I talked to my mom and she mom said “don’t give up, you should take this as a life lesson.”

GITK is also excited to have Keith Brooks on their team. As Cardinals Care’s Youth Baseball Commissioner, Keith inspires kids both on and off the girls. He supports area youth through the Redbird Rookies youth baseball league, who play on ball fields donated by Cardinals Care, the St. Louis Cardinals’ charitable foundation. By working to forge relationships with neighborhood youth providers, Keith helps guide resources provided by Cardinals Care to kids all over the region.

For more information about GITK and to get your tickets to the fundraiser on October 5, go HERE!

Watch Margie Ellisor, host of Fox2News, interview GITK Director Gina Marten with Keynote Speaker Debra Hollingsworth HERE!