Identifying a problem. In 2015 alone, more than 20,000 young people aged out of foster care, turning 18 without a permanent family or necessary skills to make it on their own. A portion of these young people dealt with issues like unemployment, homelessness, unwanted pregnancies, crime convictions, and lack of education.
Finding a solution. One year ago, in March 2016, Brettney Duck launched G.O Girls, a 501c3 nonprofit organization specifically focused on young women aging out of foster care. Addressing the critical need for supportive services for young women transitioning from foster care into adulthood, this organization empowers young women to achieve a successful adulthood.
Making a difference. As we watch G.O Girls grow in Pittsburgh, and as an Alloy 26 Winter Fellowship team, we sat down with Brettney to find out how it all began.
Q: Talk about your startup journey – how did you get to where you are today?
A: G.O Girls started as just an idea and quickly manifested into a reality. With the determination of our executive director Brettney Duck and our dedicated board members, friends, family, and supporters G.O Girls continues to grow. G.O Girls participation with New Sun Rising and the support of their program director Ebony McQueen-Harris catapulted G.O Girls from an idea to a nonprofit.
Q: Describe your business.
A: G.O Girls Incorporated is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that launched in March 2016. G.O Girls was founded by our current executive director Brettney Duck, it was her vision to see young women come together to empower each other through volunteerism, peer-support, and solidarity, while still focusing on the importance of being an individual. G.O girls aimed to encourage young women to “be the change they would like to see”.
As time progressed Brettney began to notice the lack of services for young women “aging” out of the foster care system. She then decided to change to focus of G.O girls to a population who had a greater need. G.O girls now addresses the critical need for supportive services for young women transitioning from foster care into adulthood. G.O girls provides participants with programs that focus on life skills, while establishing a cohort of young ladies who can be a support to on another.
G.O Girls currently has two programs. The “Girl Talk” life skills program & the “On your mark, get set, G.O” (O.G.G) self-sufficiency program. G.O Girls seeks to empower young women to achieve a successful adulthood.
Q: Tell us a little more about yourself, your background, and team.
A: Brettney Duck is the founding executive director of G.O Girls incorporated which launched in March 2016. G.O Girls is a nonprofit organization that addresses the critical need for supportive services for young women transitioning from foster care to adulthood. In addition, Ms. Duck currently serves as the housing specialist with Neighborworks of Western Pennsylvania where she provides one on one credit and budget counseling to clients. Prior to this role, Ms. Duck served as a Family Conference Specialist with Touching Families Inc.
Ms. Duck has developed a sense of devotion to the non-profit sector and has devoted much of her career to the social service arena. Brettney has always been passionate about empowering young women as community leaders and building positive relationships between women of differing backgrounds and generations. Currently Ms. Duck serves on Adagio Health’s Young Leadership Council where the goal is to help diversify and expand participation and involvement in the important work of Adagio Health. Brettney also serves on Neighborhood Allies Grassroots Grant Making community where she invests in resident-led projects that aim to improve neighborhoods and engage neighbors. In 2017, Brettney was nominated as volunteer of the year for Eat N Park Hospitality Group, for her continued service to the community.
Ms. Duck earned her bachelor’s in sociology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing her master’s in Human Behavior from Capella University.
Q: What’s next for G.O Girls?
A: We are currently in the early planning stages of our G.O Girls “Meet and Greet” event. This event supports G.O Girls’ effort to reach out to girls currently in foster care, as well as young women who have aged out of the foster care system. Our meet and greet provides a safe and welcoming space for attendees and supporters to learn more about the services that G.O girls offers, as well as meet other young women who are experiencing or have experienced some of the very same struggles. The event will feature a key-note speaker, who is a former foster youth but is a living example that regardless of your struggles you can overcome life challenges. We will provide food, life essentials gift bags, and most importantly a support system for the young women.
Q: What excites you most about working in Pittsburgh?
A: Being able to give back to the very city that I spent a majority of my life living in. Also, surrounding myself with other “movers & shakers” from the city.
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