History of the girlsBEST Fund
In 2002, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota launched the girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) Fund, a grantmaking and public awareness program to build the economic power of girls, ages 12-18. In 2006, the Foundation became the first women’s foundation to permanently endow a fund for girls.
Since launching girlsBEST, the Foundation has funded four cohorts of grantee partners with multi-year funding across the state; provided 359 planning and implementation grants totaling more than $3.7 million to 122 girl-led and girl-driven programs statewide; and impacted more than 40,000 young women across Minnesota.
Grants go to girl-driven programs that have the support and involvement of women, mentors, community organizations, schools and other organizations serving women and girls. Priority is given to underrepresented and underserved girls and communities across the state, including low-income girls, girls of color, and girls from Greater Minnesota.
girlsBEST Fund grantees demonstrate a strong focus on girls’ economic development and girls are involved in all aspects of the program, including planning, implementation and evaluation.
girlsBEST Fund grantees’ programming falls in one of four program tracks: academics, entrepreneurial, employment development & high-paying/high-skill careers, and public education & advocacy.
Our girlsBEST grantees knock down roadblocks to girls’ future economic success, like low wages and job discrimination, sexist academic and career tracking by schools, poor body image and self-esteem, teen pregnancy, lack of leadership and athletic opportunities, and violence against girls.
The girlsBEST Fund has shown time and again that when girls define their priorities and create change in their own lives, they expect more from themselves now, and later, as adults.
After 14 years of girlsBEST Fund grantmaking, we know girlsBEST Fund model programming is effective. Take these three key findings from independent program evaluations:
Cumulative Statistics (2002-2015)
- High School Graduation: girlsBEST participants have a 94% high school graduation rate.
- Post-Secondary Enrollment: girlsBEST participants have a 90% post-secondary education enrollment rate.
- Teen Pregnancy: girlsBEST participants have a teen pregnancy rate of 4 per 1,000 in Minnesota overall.
Current Statistics (May 2016)
- High School Graduation: girlsBEST participants have a 93% high school graduation rate, compared to 50-83% in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
- Post-Secondary Enrollment: girlsBEST participants have a 90% post-secondary education enrollment, compared to 44-72% in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
- Teen Pregnancy: girlsBEST participants have a teen pregnancy rate of less than 1 per 1,000 in Minnesota overall, compared to 18-48 per 1,000 in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
girlsBEST girls represent hope for tomorrow. And at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, we know it will be the next generation of social changemakers — like the girlsBEST girls — that will ultimately make sexism, racism and poverty in Minnesota history.