Welcome to the Girls Only section of the PEARLS for Teen Girls website!

If you want to be a leader, not a follower…
If you want to be a friend and sister who people can count on…
If you want to dream bigger, be your best self and achieve your goals…
PEARLS is a place for you.

Whether you are already a PEARLS girl or just thinking about joining a group, this section is packed with information just for you! Here you will find testimonials from PEARLS girls, application forms for jobs and scholarships, support for goal setting and lots more.

Become A PEARLS Girl

PEARLS is a unique leadership development program for girls in 5th through 12th grades. PEARLS groups are girls-only gatherings where girls have an opportunity to talk, listen, dream, set goals and find the support they need to be anything they want to be. Girls in each group develop strong bonds with one another and the PEARLS staff. They learn to identify topics important to them, speak honestly and from the heart, trust, and share. They learn to open up and find the glimmering PEARL that is inside of them!

If you are interested in becoming a PEARLS girl, please fill out the referral form and one of our programming staff will follow up with you within 48 hours. Thank you for reaching out and we look forward to connecting with you soon.

Here are the PEARLS Current Site Locations.

Please remember that PEARLS groups never get bigger than 25 girls. If we don’t have room in any of our groups, you will be added to our waiting list until a spot opens up.

If you have questions, please contact Ms. Gerry Howze at (414) 265-7555, Ext. 103.

Goal Setting

Did you ever wonder how great people accomplish great things? Do you ever look at your own life and notice that your greatest successes have come when you simply DECIDED what you wanted and went for it? We’ve all heard “If I can see it — I can be it.” Seeing it is all about knowing what you want in life. Being it is all about setting a goal, making a plan to get there, and working your plan day by day. That process of goal setting is what we practice in PEARLS.

PEARLS GirlsPEARLS girls learn how to set goals, create action plans, and achieve their goals. At the start of each semester, girls in every group work with their Program Coordinators, Teen Facilitators and each other to name personal SMART goals that are meaningful to them. Then we all work together to make sure that each girl stays on track and has the support, help and resources she needs to be successful.

Every girl in PEARLS is supported in setting and achieving at least one SMART Goal. This is what we mean by SMART Goal:


Your goal should be very specific. To lose weight is not a specific goal. To lose a certain amount of weight in a certain period of time is a specific goal.
A SMART goal is one that can be measured. How will you know when you’ve met your goal?
A SMART goal can be achieved. Do not set a goal that you cannot achieve.
SMART goals are reachable. Your goal should be realistic and within your reach.
A SMART goal is a goal that you can prove you reached. What tangible evidence will you produce to prove that you met your goal?

Some examples of SMART Goals are:

  • To read 3 new books for fun
  • To get my driver’s permit
  • To get a B in Math class
  • To save $300
  • To be on time for school everyday
  • To fill out 5 college scholarship applications
  • To fill out 5 college applications
  • To get a 3.0 or better
  • To be more respectful to my parents

When identifying a goal, every girl must also consider:

  • What evidence will I provide to show that I accomplished my goal?
  • What might stop me from reaching my goal?
  • What support and resources do I need to achieve my goal?

Leadership Compass

PEARLS Leadership Compass

The compass is a guide that points to the purpose of everything we do at PEARLS. PEARLS girls developed the Leadership Compass as a powerful symbol of their self development (heart, mind, body, and spirit). When we are developing all of the important aspects of ourselves we feel whole and complete, like a pearl! PEARLS 5-point Leadership Compass shows the aspects of our lives that are fundamental to our happiness and well-being:

  • Loving Myself: how we feel about ourselves
  • Building Relationships with Others: how we relate to other people
  • Striving to Achieve: learning throughout life
  • Believing the Sky is the Limit: setting stretch goals, dreaming big and creating successful futures, and
  • Helping Hands in the Community: giving back by contributing to the community.

Our PEARLS Promise

PEARLS girls recite the PEARLS Promise at each PEARLS gathering:

We are PEARLS girls and we want to be our best selves. All of the girls in this circle are my PEARLS sisters. We are learning how each one of us is precious and unique. PEARLS helps us believe in ourselves by building:

is for Personal Responsibility. I can make a difference!
is for Empathy. I will strive to understand how it feels to walk in your shoes.
is for Awareness. I want to know more about myself and the world around me.
is for Respect. I will value you and your opinions, even if we disagree.
is for Leadership. I want to put my beliefs into action and make this world a better place.
is for Support. I want to help and encourage.

We promise to help each other practice these traits. We want to become role models and powerful women who achieve our goals and dreams.

Thank you all for our precious time together today.

Ebony's Experience Statement

Girls In Action

Shaqueda is a PEARLS alumna on the move! A June 2009 graduate of St. Joan Antida High School, Shaqueda worked two jobs last summer before heading off to her Freshman Year at Benedict College in South Carolina where she is studying biology and criminal justice.

Shaqueda was voted PEARLS Girl of the Year in 2009 and also received a PEARLS Colleen Fitzgerald Scholarship for her outstanding academic achievement, volunteer contributions, and superb leadership.

“I want to break the belief that all African American girls get pregnant or drop out of school. I want to go against the odds and PEARLS has given me the opportunity to do so,” says Shaqueda.

She also says that PEARLS really helped her to see herself as a leader and a role model. “Knowing that I can empower other people has empowered me!” she says. “I’m a role model for the middle school girls. The Program Coordinators are role models for the high school girls and Ms. Gerry and Ms. Danae are role models for everyone.”

This summer, Shaqueda is also featured in the 88.9 Radio Milwaukee series “The First Summer of the Rest of your Life.” To hear Shaqueda for yourself, just click on the link below:

Girl Testimonials

PEARLS Girl Shantee M.
Shantee M.
How has your involvement in PEARLS changed your life?
PEARLS for Teen Girls has changed my life drastically. It’s a special feeling that I get inside when I know I’m attending PEARLS. At first my life was very disrespectful. I was always misunderstood and that triggered problems. PEARLS taught me to respect everyone and their opinions. Now I show respect for everyone and everything, a lot of people can relate to me, and I can make wise decisions.
In school?
In school I would get good grades, but my attitude towards teachers could have been better. It used to feel like I always bumped heads with teachers. PEARLS taught me that my teachers are not against me even though sometimes it feels like it. Now I like my teachers and my attitude has improved. PEARLS taught me to change my evil ways because they were not getting me anywhere. I have learned a valuable lesson.
In relationships?
In relationships with the opposite sex, I used to accept a lot of things and make myself believe that’s the way things had to be. PEARLS taught me about healthy and unhealthy relationships. I’ve learned what I should and should not accept; which has helped me become a better teenage girl and woman in the future.
How I view myself?
I remember a time when I had low self-esteem. I would look at myself and think I was ugly and unworthy of anything. PEARLS taught me to love my flaws and all. Now I have high self-esteem, I have confidence and am always proud of what I am doing. I am becoming a better me.
Other ways?
I had a discrepancy with a female. It was all a misunderstanding and the situation was resolved. I was being the bigger person and realizing my faults.
What is most meaningful to you about being a PEARLS girl?
The most meaningful thing about being a PEARLS girl is the information that I receive. The information teaches me how to better myself, love myself and empower others.
What is the greatest goal you have achieved as a PEARLS girl?
The greatest goal I have accomplished was improving my attitude. My attitude was very disrespectful. PEARLS helped me improve my attitude for the better.
PEARLS Girl Shaquille H.
Shaquille H.
How has your involvement in PEARLS changed your life?
Before I ever knew that PEARLS existed I was very immature in school, snobby and disrespectful to my teachers and other students. But, when PEARLS came I used to think that there was no way that I can change my ways but I did. PEARLS changed the way I looked at myself and others, the way I walked and talked. I mean PEARLS is really a gift from God.
In your relationships?
PEARLS has changed my life in my relationships because I was so quick to judge my friends but hated it when they judged me. I was also rude to them but, when I joined PEARLS for Teen Girls they started to see a change in me and so did I. I settled down and became nicer and opened up to them more.
How you view yourself?
Before I joined PEARLS I had very, very low self esteem. I mean I hated my hair, face, and my body and I think that played a big part in my attitude. But when PEARLS got on the subject of loving myself we had an activity where we had to look into a mirror and just stare at ourselves it was at that moment that I realized that I wasn’t ugly. It was others who talked about me and made me feel that way. But when I realized that, it’s like my hair was beautiful to me, my face and my body and it really changed the way I looked at myself.
What are some of the concrete examples of change that you have seen in your life?
Before PEARLS, I used to get into it with a lot of people, when they would say something I would be quick to talk over them but “R” is for respect and now I value their opinion even if we disagree. For example just the other day, that happened and while in peer mediation I started to listen, and realized what the problem was and solved it.
What is most meaningful to you about being a PEARLS Girl?
The most meaningful things to me in PEARLS is my PEARLS sisters because we get into it a lot but again I would hate to see them doing something bad or to go down the wrong path. Another thing is A- is for Awareness, P-for Personal Responsibility, and R-is for Respect because I feel that with those you can live a long and beautiful life.
What is the greatest goal you have achieved as a PEARL girl?
The greatest goal I have achieved was, loving myself because it was so hard for me to believe I was beautiful because every day I would complain about something being wrong with me. Every since I was about six years old I wanted to do something that made me pretty so PEARLS has helped me with that too.
What have you learned about yourself that you might not have learned without PEARLS?
I’ve learned that anything is possible and I am beautiful and I have a bright future ahead of me. People may look at me and say that I don’t have anything going on for myself but I now know that I do. Now I know what I want and PEARLS had made me feel so comfortable with them that I can change my mind anytime about what I want to be and they will be behind me 100%.
PEARLS Girl Sammie L.
Sammie L.
How has your involvement in PEARLS changed your life?
I’ve changed my attitude for the better and the way I talk to people.
In school?
My grades have gotten better.
In your relationships?
I make wiser choices about who I choose to be in relationships with.
In your view of yourself?
I have a higher level of self-confidence.
What are some of the concrete examples of change that you have seen in your life?
My relationship with my friends and family are better, and I’ve changed my attitude a whole lot.
What is the most meaningful to you about being a PEARLS girl?
Being able to meet new people and expand my networks.
What is the greatest goal you have achieved as a PEARLS girl?
Improving my grades.
What have you learned about yourself that you might not have learned without PEARLS?
Being able to trust in myself and not care about negative stuff that people may say about me.

Teen Facilitator

Teen Facilitators are high school girls who work in partnership with PEARLS Adult Program Coordinators to facilitate PEARLS middle school groups. They help to plan group activities, lead PEARLS discussion circles, act as peer mentors, and help the middle school girls to set, track and reach their goals. Teen Facilitators are paid employees of PEARLS who must attend a complete training course. They usually work about eight hours per week and are paid about $8 per hour.

Teen Facilitators are also required to be a part of a Teen PEARLS group and are responsible for setting and working on their own goals. They are committed to being true leaders and living the PEARLS Promise.

You can learn more about the Teen Facilitator program by clicking on the links to the Teen Facilitator Cover Letter, Teen Facilitator Job Description, and Teen Facilitator Questionnaire.



College Tour

Each year PEARLS offers a national College Tour trip for 20 PEARLS girls entering 8th through 11th grades. The tour usually takes girls to several different colleges in several different states. The whole trip is designed to show girls a broader world of opportunities and to get them to DREAM BIGGER!

College Tour application will be posted in the Spring previous to the tour.

Click here to review the most recent College Tour Report complete with photos and writings from the girls who attended.

Colleen Fitzgerald Scholarship

The PEARLS Colleen Fitzgerald Scholarship program provides scholarships of up to $1000 for PEARLS girls who are accepted and enrolled in college as Freshmen. The scholarships are named in honor of PEARLS Founder, Colleen Fitzgerald, and they provide a great opportunity for girls who meet the scholarship criteria.

Click here for Scholarship Application.

Click here for Scholarship Application.

Scholarship Links

Looking for Scholarships? Explore some of these. If they are not right for you, they may lead to others. Happy hunting!

Dr. Jason Black is the Principal Investigator of a recently awarded $552,000 NSF Grant entitled African-American Women in Computer Science. The grant provides scholarships from $4000 to $10,000 per year for female African American students.

We need your help to get the word out about this great opportunity to build back up the enrollment of women in the CIS Department. Pass this information along to high school or community college students, their parents, and to guidance counselors you may know.  The full text of the press release can be found here.

The AAWCS program begins operation on July 1 and will run until June 30, 2012. For more information about the program and applications for the program can be requested by contacting Dr. Black at  or (850) 412-7354

Helpful Links

Questions about college?

Other Cool Links For Girls