Girls on Fire is a 501c3 nonprofit organization focused on girl empowerment founded by educator Nakesia Daugherty at Premier Charter School of St. Louis, MO in 2015. Based on her personal experiences battling low self-esteem, she identified the girls' need to grow in this area, develop courage and discover their voice. Girls on Fire provides leadership experiences and strives to create a sisterhood where self-awareness and self-love flourish and girls truly thrive.
The first 12 members of Girls on Fire (GoF) led over 100 middle school girls in redefining beauty at the GoF girl empowerment assembly. Girls on Fire members took a career exploration field trip to the Saint Louis County Government building which included learning from the experiences of women who work in the criminal justice field while sitting in a grand jury room, conversing with a defense attorney, interviewing a judge in her court room, and touring a jail facility led by a female warden. The networking event that year was made successful with the mentoring of strong female professionals including a physical therapist, school principal, attorney, and local business owner. Even in its infancy, the GoF self-esteem programming and team-building was successful. The 2014-2015 year culminated
with the first Annual Girls on Fire Awards Ceremony highlighting the accomplishments of the organization.
To date, Girls on Fire has graduated 95 girls from the program, connecting them to more than 100 professional women via networking and career exploration opportunities in various fields: architecture, law, engineering, marketing and advertisement, nonprofit work, retail merchandising, fashion, accounting, education, social work, psychiatry, construction, broadcast journalism, business, entrepreneurship, and the list goes on. Careers and fields represented over the years have helped girls picture themselves as women making an impact, leading in male-dominated fields, and becoming trailblazers. Girls on Fire has provided experiences that were inspiring for the professional women who were mentors as well as the members of our organization. The work of Girls on Fire has touched over 600 girls through its mentoring, leadership, and service activities.
SELF - RESPECT
GIRL IDENTITY AND EMPOWERMENT
Many girls can barely make it through elementary school let alone middle school without being pierced, deflated, broken, bruised, or just damaged by a lack of support at home, a neglected community, mentally abusive relationships, mean girls, mean boys, bullying, societal norms, media, social media, and the list goes on. In no time at all, a somewhat confident girl could lose all of her confidence. Someone without a strong identity and foundation of self-love is at risk of believing and repeating the negative messages about herself, which adversely affects her trajectory in life.
In Girls on Fire, our members are able to "ignite
their amazing" and inspire others to do the same. During our 32-week program, we combat the negativity with education, encouragement, and meaningful dialogue. We dig deep to discover how our insecurities affect how we love ourselves. Girls affirm themselves and each other to help shake the foundation of those insecurities and reprogram themselves. Girls on Fire helps develop the spark in young girls so their values, passions, interests, and strengths are explored and connected, leading them to visualize and create fulfilling futures as they continue to uncover their purpose.
To help girls see the vision, Girls on Fire enlists volunteer mentors from various careers and fields to provide networking and career exploration activities. Career field trips have included a trip to the St. Louis County Government Building to explore the criminal justice field; a downtown St. Louis Riverfront project exploration to understand how the engineers from the St. Louis Bridge Company led the new construction, an immersion into the careers at Scholarship Foundation and the Scholarshop; an inspirational trip to Rosemann and Associates to dive into the field of architecture and other careers supported there; and a tour of a construction site to realize the many careers represented surrounding a project from civil engineering to skilled trades and accounting.
Girls also want to have fun, so our program offers social events, activities, and special events that focus on relationship and team building, leadership, and communication. In addition, the program is designed to develop life skills, people skills, and perseverance to foster resilience. Throughout their journey, members are encouraged to reach back to help other girls "ignite their amazing" whether through mentoring or community service.