Crittenton Services of Greater Washington aims to help hundreds of at-risk teenage girls across D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland, every year — even during the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for people from all walks of life and at-risk youth are no exception.
“The pandemic has certainly impacted the young ladies that we serve,” said Siobhan Davenport, CEO of Crittenton Services.
The 133-year-old nonprofit works with 500 to 600 teens from sixth through 12th grade every year.
“Our teen girls experience economic insecurity, racial disparities (and) gender inequities. Our families experience housing insecurity and food insecurity,” she said.
Davenport added that the pandemic has “increased those challenges, exponentially” for those served by Crittenton Services.
One program the nonprofit offers, called Goal Setting Girls, is a 28-week program focusing on social and emotional learning for sixth- and seventh-grade girls from lower-income families.
There is also a 26-week program for girls in high school that provides information “on healthy relationships, careers, post-secondary education, nutrition and fitness and reproductive health and sexuality,” according to the group’s website.
Another program is designed for “young women who are pregnant or parenting.”
“We also have a policy-advocacy arm called ‘Declare Equity for Girls,’ which is a girl-led project where our young ladies are advocating for themselves and for their communities,” Davenport said.
She said Crittenton Services connects with students through school partnerships, and girls who join any of its programs do so voluntarily.
“Our greatest ambassadors are the girls themselves. We have girls who have recommended additional family members, best friends … because what they’re getting from the program is so important to them.”
Davenport added that alumnae have gone on to careers in health care, higher education, the military and politics.
The group’s annual ‘High Tea’ was held virtually this year, on April 22, due to the pandemic.
Crittenton Services said it offers an opportunity for its teens to share “their views on issues impacting their lives and showcase their leadership and advocacy skills” with community leaders.