At A Company of Girls, girls come together after school and learn about theatre, the arts, and social skills. It is a safe place where they can discuss issues that are important to them. It is also a fun place, just for them, where they can discuss “girl things.” Their time together may include activities like drawing, journaling, painting, cooking, attending arts events, creative writing, sleepovers, apple picking, community service, pot-luck family dinners, dancing, fundraising, and much, much more.
A Company of Girls works with girls to cultivate their self-confidence, build resiliency, and
create a community of tolerance and acceptance where uniqueness is celebrated and creativity thrives.
Who We Are:
Serving the greater Portland community for over two decades, ACOG is an award-winning, nationally recognized after school resiliency/mentorship program that uses the arts (visual, performing and culinary) as a basis for youth empowerment. The core afterschool program is offered throughout the school year and offers approximately 200+ hours of programming. ACOG’s staff members work directly with girls to actively create and implement activities that support and connect to the greater community—expanding our impact. Events such as our annual theatrical performances and fundraisers reach hundreds of additional community members annually.
What We Do:
ACOG’s programming helps shape girls into young women who have the confidence and spirit of inclusiveness to make positive changes in our community, and remain resilient to life’s challenges. To accomplish this goal, ACOG staff rigorously work to execute a curriculum based in the arts that encourages the building of self-confidence and self-esteem in order for girls to discover, develop, honor and use their unique and valuable voices. Study of the visual and performing arts has proven positive results for children in their development as successful, independent adults. Because our participants are from culturally and economically diverse backgrounds, girls and their families learn to better understand the perspectives of those who go to different schools, live in different neighborhoods, or have differing family backgrounds, building bridges throughout our community.
Why It’s Important:
Numerous studies have found that after school programming has a positive impact on both academic and social skills for our youth. Budget cuts to arts programming in schools, lack of transportation for participants, and the high cost of after school arts programs, can often prohibit disadvantaged youth from receiving this essential aspect of their education and personal growth. Though we target serving girls who are dealing with challenging circumstances, we offer our program to any girl who it is determined would benefit from our curriculum.
What does “at risk” mean?
We are constantly asking ourselves this question when we talk about our program. What makes a girl at risk? What makes one girl more at risk than another? What we have determined for ourselves is that in today’ society all girls, no matter what their socio-economic standing, are “at risk”. At risk of being lonely. At risk of becoming isolated. At risk of feeling that they are not worthy of happiness or love. At ACOG we provide a place for girls to come and feel encouraged and hopeful about their futures. A place where they are safe and are surrounded by caring and supportive adults who help them to achieve their fullest potential.
Why do we call ourselves a “resiliency” program?
Resiliency is defined as “the capacity of individuals, families, communities, systems and institutions to anticipate, withstand and/or engage with catastrophic events and/or experiences, actively making meaning out of adversity, with the goal of maintaining “normal” function without fundamentally losing identity.” (Almedom 2007) By teaching girls strategies for how to cope with and handle the many different and potentially stressful situations they may be faced with in their lives, we hope to send girls out into their futures with a sense of empowerment and strength that they can overcome any and all obstacles. That they feel they belong to a larger community than just themselves and are supported within that community.
What makes us unique?
Our program is unique in that we work with small groups of girls usually over an entire school year, allowing us to get to know each girl and their family, and helping us determine the best paths to work with a girl to best reach her personal and family goals. Girls in our Core Program are required to commit at the beginning of each session in terms of attendance, being present, and being a participating and involved member of their group. This commitment creates an atmosphere of closeness and teamwork that is very unique to afterschool programs. Parents are also required to commit that they will support their daughter, and their daughter’s commitment the program, and will volunteer for the program during the year. Both parents and girls are required to sign a contract upon registering that discusses these expectations.
What is our Goal?
Our goal at ACOG is to provide girls and young women in our community with a network of peers, friends, mentors and caring adults who will help guide them and provide them the tools to find their inner voice, and to have the confidence to step up and shine.