INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL

October 12, 2019 at 5:00 am

On this International Day of the Girl, we take you to an all-girls school on the Lower East Side that is defying the odds and helping young women to chase their dreams.

Aired on October 12, 2019. 

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> HI EVERYONE.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE
GIRL!
MORE THAN 98 MILLION ADOLESCENT
GIRLS AREN'T IN SCHOOL YET THE
EVIDENCE IS CLEAR.
WHEN GIRLS GET THE OPPORTUNITIES
THEY DESERVE, OUR WHOLE WORLD
BENEFITS.
THAT'S WHY WE'VE BEEN WORKING TO
LIFT UP GRASSROOTS LEADERS AND
ORGANIZATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
WHO IMPROVE GIRLS' LIVES EVERY
DAY.
TODAY, ON THE DAY OF THE GIRL, I
AM THRILLED TO SHARE THE NEWS
THAT IN DECEMBER I'LL BE
TRAVELING TO VIETNAM WITH MY
FRIEND JENNA BUSH HAGER AND A
FEW OTHER SPECIAL GUESTS, TOO.
THE OBAMA FOUNDATION WILL BE
TEAMING UP WITH THE "TODAY" SHOW
AND YOUTUBE ORIGINALS TO MEET
SOME OF THESE GIRLS AND SHARE
THEIR INCREDIBLE STORIES WITH
ALL OF YOU.
NOW, IN THE MEANTIME, I HOPE
THAT ALL OF YOU WILL FIND A WAY
TO SUPPORT THESE GIRLS.
AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO FLY TO
VIETNAM.
YOU CAN HOST A BAKE SALE, HELP
YOUR CHILDREN ORGANIZE A PROJECT
IN THEIR CLASSROOM, OR GET
INVOLVED IN YOUR OFFICE, AS
WELL.
VISIT
GIRLSOPPORTUNITYALLIANCE.ORG TO
FIND OUT MORE WAYS TO TAKE
ACTION.
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO, WILL MAKE A
DIFFERENCE FOR US ALL.
THE FUTURE OF OUR WORLD IS ONLY
AS BRIGHT AS OUR GIRLS.
>> A DISTRESSING STATISTIC ON
THE STATE OF NEW YORK CITY
SCHOOLS.
ONLY 61% OF STUDENTS RECEIVE
HIGH SCHOOL DEGREES.
BUT ONE PRIVATE INSTITUTION THAT
AIMS TO HELP YOUNG
UNDERPRIVILEGED GIRLS BOOSTS A
STUNNING 97% GRADUATION RATE.
CHASING THE DREAM, POVERTY, AND
OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA, WE
EXPLORE TODAY CORNELLIA CONLEY
CENTER.
CONLEY CENTER CHAMPIONS GIRLS AT
RISK AND EMPOWERING THEM TO
REALIZE THEIR FULL POTENTIAL
FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL, COLLEGE, AND
BEYOND.
IT TEACHES GRADES 4 THROUGH 8
BUT THEIR WORK DOESN'T STOP
THERE.
STUDENT GOES ON TO ATTEND
PRESTIGIOUS HIGH SCHOOLS AND
UNIVERSITIES.
HERE TO TELL US MORE IS
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CAROLINE.
LAYS, WELCOME TO YOU.
>> THANK YOU.
TO ME, IT WAS JAW DROPPING.
AND THE NUMBER OFS I CAN
UNDERSTAND AFTER HAVING SEEN
THAT.
I GOT A SENSE IN WANDERING
AROUND THE HALLWAYS AND WATCHING
YOU ALL THERE THAT YOU ALL FELT
THIS PLACE WAS MORE THAN A
SCHOOL.
IS THAT RIGHT?
>> LIKE A SECOND HOME.
I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE SOMETIMES.
THEY'RE LIKE YOU HAVE TO GO
HOME.
>> HOW MANY TIMES DO PEOPLE SAY
I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE SCHOOL.
>> NOT A LOT BUT YOU DO.
YOU HAVE GONE THERE, GRADUATED
FROM EIGHTH GRADE, HIGH SCHOOL,
AND HOLY CROSS.
JUST LAST YEAR.
>> YEAH.
>> MARVELOUS.
WHEN YOU FIRST SHOWED UP AT THAT
THE SCHOOL, WHAT DID YOU THINK
ABOUT IT?
>> I THOUGHT THAT IT WAS A
SECOND HOME.
I FELT EVERY PERSON AT THE
SCHOOL WANTED TO GET TO KNOW YOU
ON A PERSONAL LEVEL.
AND THE FIRST TIME WE HAD
ASSEMBLY, WHICH IS OUR MORNING
TAKE ATTENDANCE, THE FACT THAT
EVERY STAFF MEMBER KNEW YOUR
NAME AND MENTIONED YOUR NAME IN
THE MORNING, TO THE POINT WHERE
IF I WAS MISSING, PEOPLE WOULD
NOTICE.
YOU KNOW, THAT WAS INCREDIBLE TO
ME.
>> WHAT IS THERE, THEN, IN
ADDITION TO THE COMFORT IN TERMS
OF THE ACADEMICS THAT ALLOW
PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO BE SO
SUCCESSFUL?
>> I THINK THEY JUST PUSH US.
AS A FIFTH GRADER, I WASN'T
PERFORMING ON GRADE LEVEL.
I WOULD BE PULLED OUT OF CLASS
TO WORK ON MY READING, ON MY
WRITING, AND, TO ME, IT WAS THE
FIRST TIME IT HAPPENED TO ME FOR
SOMEONE TO ACKNOWLEDGE WHERE THE
GAPS WERE IN MY EDUCATION AND TO
MEET WITH MY PARENTS AND TELL
THEM THIS IS WHERE JENNA IS
STRUGGLING.
THIS IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO
TO HELP HER.
THAT WAS FIFTH GRADE.
BY THE TIME I WAS IN EIGHTH
GRADE IT WAS PUSHING ME TO WORK
HARDER AND HARDER AND SEEING
SOMETHING IN ME I DIDN'T
NECESSARILY SEE AT THE TIME.
I ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HOW THE
SCHOOL, OUR CENTER AIMS TO SEE
THE FLAME IN EACH GIRL.
THAT POTENTIAL IN EACH GIRL.
AND THEY SAW IT IN ME.
I DIDN'T NECESSARILY IN MIDDLE
SCHOOL I DIDN'T SEE MYSELF
SAYING I'M GOING TO GRADUATE
FROM THE COLLEGE OF HOLY CROSS
OR EVEN COLLEGE, LIKE, AS A
THING WASN'T NECESSARILY -- THEY
TELL US YOU'RE GOING TO DO
AMAZING THINGS.
I'M LIKE YEAH SURE.
THAT MEANS IN HIGH SCHOOL, TOO,
WHEN I WOULD COME BACK, THEY
WOULD ASK ME HOW IS SCHOOL
GOING?
WHERE ARE YOU STRUGGLING?
LET'S GET YOU A TUTOR.
>> LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE
NOTION OF FOLLOWING THROUGH.
TO SAY WE'RE GOING TO COMMIT TO
PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT
WITH THEM.
NOT JUST THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL, AS
YOU SAID.
NOT JUST THROUGH COLLEGE BUT,
ALSO, TO THEIR LIVES AFTER IT.
HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
>> THE REALITY, WE'RE SMALL BUT
MIGHTY.
THE REASON WE CAN DO THIS GOOD
WORK AND FOLLOW THE GIRLS IS
THAT WE'RE SMALL.
I THINK FOR ME THE NEXT FIVEOVER
TEN YEARS PEOPLE NEED TO SEE
THIS MODEL BECAUSE IT WORKS.
THE KEY IS SMALL AND PERSONAL.
>> LET ME COME BACK TO YOU.
YOU HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE NOT
PART OF THIS SCHOOL.
THEY SAY YOUR SCHOOL SOUNDS
INTERESTING.
IT SOUNDS DIFFERENT.
WHAT IS IT LIKE?
HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THAT
QUESTION?
>> I HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT
SAY THAT TOW ME.
I SAY THANKS.
THE THING IS, MY SCHOOL IS VERY
DIFFERENT.
WE HAVE TEACHERS WHO CARE AND WE
HAVE HOPE AND GUIDANCE
THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE YEAR.
I THINK THE FACT I GET TO COME
IN EARLY TO GET EXTRA HELP IN
MATH AND THE TEACHERS ARE THERE
TO HELP ME.
IT'S AN EXCELLENT THING FOR MY
GRADES.
>> YOU FIND YOU HAVE ALL THE
OPPORTUNITIES YOU WANT TO HAVE
IN THIS SCHOOL?
YES.
WE HAVE EXTRA GUIDANCE IN WHAT
SHALL I WANT TO ATTEND TO AND
WHAT COLLEGE DO I WANT TO GO TO.
AND -- IT HELPS ME GET TO KNOW
MYSELF BSHT AND TO KNOW HOW TO
TELL OTHER SCHOOLS ABOUT MYSELF.
>> LOOKING BACK, WOULD YOU HAVE
GRADUATED FROM HOLY CROSS IF YOU
HADN'T BEEN TO THIS SCHOOL?
>> ABSOLUTELY NOT.
I HAD NEVER HEARD OF COLLEGE OF
HOLY CROSS UNTIL I WENT TO CCC.
I THINK I WAS IN SEVENTH GRADE.
THEY TOOK US ON A COLLEGE TRIP
AND I REMEMBER COMING HOME AND
SAYING IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL
CAMPUS.
THAT'S WHERE I'M GOING TO
SCHOOL.
MY MOM WAS LIKE THAT'S SWEET.
I SAID THAT COLLEGE STOOD OUT TO
ME AND I WANT TO GO THERE.
I WANT TO LIVE THAT MISSION.
AND I DO NOT THINK THAT I WOULD
HAVE GONE THERE IF IT WEREN'T
FOR CCC
>>WELL, HAVING VISITED FOR A
LITTLE BIT OF TIME, I SAW THE
JOY AND THE EXPECTATIONS.
05 SAW THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
YOU SHOULD BE CONGRATULATED AND
YOUR STAFF AND EVERYBODY WHO
WORKS THERE.
WE'RE GOING IT SEE WONDERFUL
THINGS FROM YOU JUST AS WE'RE
SEEING WONDERFUL THINGS FROM
HER.
GRADUATIONS TO YOU.
GOOD LUCK TO YOU.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
>> THANK YOU.
AND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW YOU
CAN HELP, GO TO OUR WEBSITE
METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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