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Girls Inc. ‘She Votes’ Initiative Promotes Civic Awareness

Activities introduce local girls to the political process, including voting, public speaking and fundraising.

As the 2008 presidential election draws near, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, a nonprofit organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold, presents Girls Inc. She Votes, a nonpartisan, nationwide initiative focused on involving girls in the political process and encouraging girls to see themselves as leaders.

She Votes will promote civic engagement in girls and provide a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run for political office and serve as an elected official. Girls will participate in activities that will introduce them to voting, public speaking, fundraising and campaign advertising.

“We really want the girls to understand the election process and the importance of voting and we feel that it’s particularly important to encourage awareness as this is an election year,” said Dacia Ostlund, Santa Barbara Center director.

Girls Inc. She Votes launched during the 2004 presidential elections, when more than 2,200 local Girls Inc. girls across the United States participated in a mock election and activities that included visits from public officials, volunteering at voter registration drives, viewing and discussing televised debates, get-out-the-vote activities and creating political cartoons.

The development of Girls Inc. She Votes was supported by a grant from The Brico Fund. This year’s She Votes will take place at both Santa Barbara area Girls Inc. centers on Oct. 21 when the girls will vote on their choice of president as well as local initiatives.

Girls Incorporated of Greater Santa Barbara is a vigorous advocate for girls in the Santa Barbara and Goleta communities, particularly girls at high risk in underserved areas. In 2007, 67 percent of the girls served belong to racial/ethnic minority groups; 53 percent Hispanic/Latina, 33 percent Anglo, 4 percent black, 3 percent Asian, 1 percent Native American and 6 percent of multicultural heritage. More than 50 percent of the families’ annual incomes are less than $25,000, and 47 percent of the girls live in a single-parent household.

Girls Inc. serves 1,200 children annually at two Girls Inc. centers in Santa Barbara and the Goleta Valley, through Girls Inc. gymnastics and counseling, and through various school and other outreach program sites. 

To learn more about Girls Inc., call 805.963.4757, ext. 10, or e-mail [email protected]

Beth Cleary is the community relations and administration coordinator for Girls Incorporated of Greater Santa Barbara.

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