Kuperminc, G.P., Thomason, J., DiMeo, M. & Broomfield-Massey, K. (2011). Cool Girls, Inc.: Promoting the positive development of urban preadolescent and early adolescent girls. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 32, 171-183. DOI 10.1007/s10935-011-0243-y
Cool Girls, Inc. is a multi-component program that focuses on enhancing girls’ positive youth development through promotion of healthy behaviors and attitudes. It includes one-to-one mentoring, tutoring, and other support services
A quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the effects of participating in Cool Girls Inc. programs, as well as the effects of a mentoring component. Self-report questionnaires were completed at the beginning and end of the academic year by 86 predominantly African-American girls, age range 9-15 years old, who participated in the program. Data were also collected from a demographically similar comparison group comprised of youth who did not participate in the program.
The following outcomes were considered:
- Self concept: including scholastic abilities, behavioral conduct, social acceptance, body image, and global self worth
- Academic orientation: including school grades, academic effort and internalized achievement motivation
- Future orientation: including goal-setting and decision-making skills
- Healthy behaviors: including nutrition, physical activity, reproductive health and avoidance of substance use
Relative to the comparison group, girls who participated in the Cool Girls youth development program demonstrated significant increased
-hope for the future
Beyond these findings related to participating in the program more generally, being matched with a mentor was associated with increases in
-body image and
-expectations of future drug use abstinence.
The findings suggest that for girls, participation in youth development programs has the potential to affect positive trajectories across a broad array of domains. Furthermore, the findings highlight the utility of one-to-one mentoring within multi-component preventative intervention programs.
Formal mentoring programs use various evidence-based practices including provision of mentor training and support in order to foster relationships that address the needs of diverse youth, and enhance mentoring effectiveness. This study presents factors that may be relevant to and inform the mentoring experience of girls, particularly those related to interpersonal relationships and healthy behaviors. Providing training that can equip mentors to better support the needs of girls, as well as providing opportunities to engage in discussion around these factors may enhance the overall experience of youth mentoring for girls.
Summarized by Stella Kanchewa, M.A., UMass Boston