Dawn R. Smith receives Founder’s Award from Cool Girls Inc.
Cool Girls Inc. Executive Director, Sandy Welfare (left) Dawn Smith, Cool Girls founder (right)
Atlanta (April 26) – Smith & Lake LLC announced today that partner Dawn R. Smith has been honored by Cool Girls Inc. www.thecoolgirls.org with the Founder’s Award at their annual Hot Pink Party. The annual “Cool Girls Become Cool Women” Hot Pink Party raises funds for the expansion of Cool Girls’ programs for girls living in Atlanta’s low-income communities. This year’s event celebrated the 25th anniversary and 5,500th girl.
Cool Girls Inc. was founded by Dawn Smith in 1989 in response to the desperate plight of young girls living in the East Lake Meadows housing community. At that time, East Lake Meadows was known as one of Atlanta’s most violent public housing projects. U. S. Senate candidate and Hands On Atlanta founder, Michelle Nunn was an inaugural mentor, Cool Sister, and Cool Girls was one of Hands On Atlanta’s initial projects. With the support of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany and the Urban Training Organization, Smith who practices family and education law and a handful of dedicated volunteers set out to create a secure, supportive environment for the girls of East Lake. The adults provided academic support through tutoring, broadened the girls’ world-view through field trips, and formed a girls-only club where the girls could engage in positive, self-empowering activities that nurtured their development. The girls embraced the opportunity and named themselves “The Cool Girls of East Lake.”
Since inception the Cool Girls program has morphed to meet the needs of the girls. In May 1990, the Cool Sisters mentoring program was implemented. In 1994, the Cool Scholars program was initiated, providing volunteer tutoring to help with homework, test preparation, and to reinforce the importance of academic achievement. In the late 1990s, the middle school curriculum was developed. As Cool Girl members moved into high school, opportunities for continued engagement were identified and implemented. Cool Futures was established to encourage high school Cool Girls to provide new programming ideas and input on how to continue making a relevant impact in the lives of the girls. High school girls who have aged out of our Girls Club are eligible to engage in our leadership program, Cool LEAD. During the 2010-2011 school year, Cool Girls introduced a pilot program for 2nd graders.
Today, Cool Girls serves over 400 girls through partnerships with 9 Title 1 schools in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. Cool Girls provides motivation, encouragement, and reinforcement to help girls make smart choices that deter risky behaviors while giving guidance for positive transformation. Over its 25 year history, over 5,500 girls have participated in the program. Cool Girls develops bonds with our girls, and their parents, giving support as early as eight years old until womanhood.