Advancing Girls’ Opportunities in Appalachia for Learning and Success (A+GOALS)

Education   Empowerment   Economic Development

Literacy, Leadership and STEAM education are the focus of Eastman Foundation’s program, A+GOALS. Through creativity and discovery, the program creates a unique set of opportunities for young girls in rural southern Appalachia to learn, express herself and value herself.

A+GOALS is a two-week summer program, currently hosted at Emmett Elementary, in partnership with Sullivan County Schools. The Foundation understands the importance of providing educational experiences in the four years between childhood and adolescence to increase educational aspirations, self-confidence and world views. We make it possible for the families with bus transportation, two healthy meals, enrichment opportunities, and fun activities offered each day.

“We seek to invest in transformational education that empowers individuals, particularly girls,” says Pin-Chia Murphy, Strategic Partnerships Manager. “The program brings together various literacies and STEAM to equip girls with the skills they need in our 21st century global workforce. And by investing in them, you invest in the future of our local and global community.”

The program offers global learning with conversations around leadership of young women and digital project exchanges with girls from South Africa. In addition, the girls learned about robotics, worked in a garden learning-scape and helped design and prototype a mobile learning lab. Connection with STEAM happens primarily through the creation of digital stories. The girls learn to take pictures and videos to illustrate their story, record voiceover, and how to put it all together using a video editing software. College interns are recruited and trained to serve as teachers and role models to the girls. In addition, each intern is asked to share a personal skill like art or creative writing to teach.

After our first year, we are proud of the accomplishments represented by digital projects and by the work in reading groups that help girls develop soft skills.

“We watched girls who came in to the program shy and soft-spoken,” says Allison Myers, Southern Region Director at StoryCenter. “And over the course of two-weeks see them speak out with courage, built friendships with others and discovered new interests.”

The summer program culminates in an exhibition where the girls share the digital projects they have created to their family, friends and community.

"I have such wonderful memories of Emmett Elementary School," said Mary Rouse, a former principal from the region and A+GOALS volunteer. " Without the Eastman Foundation the camp could not have happened. It warms my heart to have the opportunity to offer the A+GOALS program to our girls in the Emmett community.”

Click here to watch all the digital stories created by the A+GOAL girls. To learn more about A+GOALS and how you could get involved, please contact us here.