Page 5 - Heart of Hoag - Issue 3
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‘Yes, I Can’ – With Support from Hoag, Girls Inc.® of O.C. is Making a Big Impact
Program sparks excitement for STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics
Hoag’s long-standing relationship with the Girls Inc. of Orange County promotes healthy self-esteem and educational success
As the oldest girl-centered organization in the United States, nationally, Girls Inc. has been transforming girls’ views of themselves and their opportunities for generations.
Each year, Girls Inc. of Orange County works with more than 5,300 local girls ranging in age from 5 to 18. While the girls’ ages and life stages vary considerably, the organization’s mission is the same: Inspire all girls to
be strong, smart, and bold. Girls Inc. equips them with the skills needed to navigate gender, economic and social barriers and grow into healthy, confident, educated and independent adults.
For more than a decade, Hoag has supported Girls Inc.’s Eureka! Program, which helps girls develop skills and enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Many of America’s top innovators, entrepreneurs and community leaders are grounded in solid STEM educational experiences. Unfortunately, girls and women remain underrepresented in most STEM academic fields and careers.
The Eureka! Program provides the resources to help overcome that barrier.
Through fun, hands-on activities, girls are able to explore different career paths, learn about fitness and nutrition, and participate in personal development activities that encourage girls to be healthy and self-confident.
Through the years, grants from Hoag have enabled the Eureka program to grow substantially and serve a greater number of Orange County girls. This summer marks Hoag’s 17th year of program support.
“The impact that this program has on the girls by the end of summer is truly life-changing,” said Lucy Santana-Ornelas, CEO of Girls Inc. of Orange County. “You see that spark inside them ignite and they find the ‘Yes, I Can’ confidence.”
Girls from all areas of Orange County, with widely divergent backgrounds and experiences, are taught to feel empowered and important and that they can achieve any goal they put their mind to.
Amanda is a perfect example of this. Facing the challenges of a learning disability and homelessness, she grew up feeling isolated and ostracized. After enrolling in Girls Inc., Amanda began to realize her inner strengths and found a confidence that was buried inside.
She participated in the programs offered by Girls Inc. that taught her to overcome her fear of talking to her peers.
“With this courage and confidence, I no longer felt lost; I had found my compass at Girls Inc.,” Amanda said. “Girls Inc. took me from a place of isolation and inconsistency to a haven of acceptance and hope. The journey ahead may be rough, but thanks to Girls Inc., I’ve come a long way.”
Amanda is one of the 2014 Girls Inc. National Scholars and received $20,000 toward her college education. Last fall, she began her college experience at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
“The pro-girl, girls-only environment creates a safe place for girls to share their experiences and aspirations with their peers, which builds an important support system,” Santana-Ornelas explained. “It also confirms for the girls that they can succeed and deserve to be taken seriously for the persons they are now and the women they will become.”
“We have girls who participated in programming starting at 7 years old, coming back as alumnae volunteers to mentor other girls,” she said. “Seeing them find success, graduate college and wanting to share this with the girls at Girls Inc. is very inspiring.”
The organization’s pro-girls, girls-only environment creates a safe and welcoming place for sharing.

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