PEARLS works! PEARLS girls are working hard and achieving big!

The past year has proved to be an exciting one for PEARLS for Teen Girls. In 2012, PEARLS educational support programs served nearly 1000 Milwaukee girls! Plus, PEARLS girls achieved these outstanding outcomes:

  • 100% of PEARLS 2012 high school seniors graduated!
  • 100% of 2012 high school graduates were accepted to at least one college!
  • 99% of all active PEARLS girls avoided pregnancy!

Additional organizational accomplishments include:

  • In 2011, PEARLS was named as one of fifteen outstanding organizations worldwide that are building sustainable pathways to social responsibility.
  • Since the start of 2009, Chief Executive Officer, Danae Davis, has received four awards recognizing her outstanding leadership including A Wisconsin Friend of Education Award&rsquo A Milwaukee Times’ Black Excellence Award; The US Postal Service Women Putting their Stamp on Metro Milwaukee Award; and the Black Women’s Network of Milwaukee 30 Phenomenal Women award.
  • PEARLS has been cited repeatedly in local newspaper articles and by the City of Milwaukee Health Department, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and others as a leader in helping to achieve community goals of teen pregnancy reduction and high school graduation increases.
  • On April 30, 2008 the Volunteer Center of Milwaukee honored longtime PEARLS Board Chair and ongoing board member, Edie Brengel Radtke, with its first Fran Swiggart Award for Outstanding Nonprofit Board Leadership.
  • In March 2007 PEARLS was selected by the Medical College of Wisconsin to receive a prestigious Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program grant to provide a new intensive pilot program for a targeted audience of 25 extremely high-risk girls at Silver Spring Academy.
  • The National Conference of the American Evaluators Association invited PEARLS to present on its groundbreaking Goal Setting Program in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
  • PEARLS successfully executed and completed the vision laid out in a three-year strategic growth plan. The plan called for PEARLS to grow from serving 120 girls annually in 2004 to 500 annually by the end of 2007. PEARLS extended its growth plan into 2008 and served 688 girls — well beyond the goal of 600.
  • In 2005 PEARLS published its totally unique “Self Development Curriculum.”
  • In 2004 the Greater Milwaukee Foundation designated PEARLS a model program.


  • PEARLS serves girls living throughout some of Milwaukee’s most economically and socially challenged neighborhoods, including the 53206 zip code area, which has been cited as the 16th poorest zip code area in the United States.
  • PEARLS’ target audience of at-risk middle and high school girls face staggering challenges. Milwaukee has the 7th highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation and one of the lowest graduation rates. Milwaukee Public Schools reports that 80% of students live in poverty and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction test results reveal persistent achievement gaps between students of color in Milwaukee and their peers around the state.
  • PEARLS served nearly 1000 middle and high school girls by the end of 2012.
  • African-American girls make up 85% of girls served; Latina girls make up 5%; and a diverse group of at-risk girls make up the final 9%.
  • 75% of girls are in middle school and 25% are in high school.

Financial Breakdown

It costs approximately $1,000 to serve one PEARLS girl for one full school year. Programming expenses include pens, journals, art supplies, snacks, books, field trips, and wages for our superbly trained staff.

PEARLS budget for 2013 is $1.3mm. PEARLS is almost entirely supported by contributions from committed and engaged corporate foundations, private foundations, organizations, individuals and government sources. PEARLS views donors as investors in the lives of the girls we serve and the future of our community. A small amount of revenue is also generated by modest program fees paid by our site partners.

The following pie chart shows the breakdown of PEARLS’ funding sources.

2012 Funding Sources

Chart: 2011 Funding Resources

2012 Distribution of Expenses

Chart: 2011 Distribution of Expenses

Click here to see PEARLS most recently audited financial statement. Upon request to the PEARLS Board of Directors, additional financial information as well as conflict of interest policy will be made available. Reasonable charges may be made for the cost of printing and mailing such documents.

Charmaine's Experience Statement


Donors and Community Leaders Testimonials

Tom Barrett, Mayor @ City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
“PEARLS for Teen Girls is a tremendous asset to the City of Milwaukee and those it serves. I applaud the dedication of Danae Davis, the board and staff who work tirelessly to ensure at-risk teen girls mature into confident, accountable and goal-oriented young women.”
Thelma Sias, Vice President of Local Affairs @ We Energies
“PEARLS for Teen Girls has successfully cultivated a tradition of leadership development for young women. Many in our community have recognized the potential of these young ladies for generations and PEARLS has done an exceptional job of helping them reach that potential to its fullest. In fact, I have seen first hand how girls have blossomed into empowered and confident young women under their guidance and support; this, in short, is what I have found to be the power of PEARLS.”
Joan M. Prince, Ph.D, Vice Chancellor-Partnerships and Innovation, Clinical Associate Professor-College of Health Sciences @ The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
“Instilling hope, providing positive options, and continuously showing young women what the possibilities are is the work of PEARLS for Teen Girls! While others have tried, PEARLS has succeeded because they have connected the future opportunities of the external world with the culture of the internal world of these young women. Keep up the great work!”
Cecelia Gore, Program Director @ Brewers Charities & Jane Bradley @ Pettit Foundation
“I cannot begin to share the sense of pride I feel when I come in contact with a group of PEARLS for Teen Girls. They are poised, confident and ready to take on the future. I am struck by the fire I see in their eyes as they share thoughts about what they plan to do,attend college, serve in leadership roles and care for the community! PEARLS Girls are being properly exposed to all of the possibilities. The more young ladies that have access to this caring and well thought out program, the better!”
Vincent Lyles, President @ M&I Community Development Corporation
“What I love about PEARLS for Teen Girls is how they work with young ladies on all aspects of their lives. While some of them have academic challenges, others may have more personal needs. PEARLS steps up to assist, guide and convince the girls that there is more to life than what is immediately in front of them. In addition, I am a huge fan of Danae Davis, who I admire for being someone who truly reached back to help.”
Michelle Mason, CAE, Managing Director @ American Society for Quality (ASQ)
PEARLS for Teen Girls is a success story of how people and passion can ignite something special in a community. From its unique mission of empowering young girls to strong outcome based measures, it is a true demonstration of how people and passion changes lives.

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 negative stuff that people may say about me.

Parent Testimonials

Daphane Montriel
When I read the PEARLS Promise I was impressed by the definitions behind each letter and knew from that moment I wanted my daughters involved in this profound movement. It would have been great to have a program around when I was younger that carries out what PEARLS for Teen Girls is providing to our community. This program has been influential in shaping my daughters from the time they were in middle school and now as college students. Whenever I receive honor from others stating I have done a wonderful job with the girls I always mention the PEARLS staff and how they help to pave the way for the girls. If I have never told you, I am forever indebted to you ALL and if ever I can do ANYTHING to carry out the PEARLS mission please know I am just a phone call away. Every girl needs PEARLS.
Theresa Royal
As a parent I believe that PEARLS has helped my daughter mature and move herself in the right direction. Since joining her grades have improved. I’ve noticed that now when she smiles - her smile comes through from the inside — out! She’s found her self-confidence, and through connections that she’s made in PEARLS she now has been accepted into Marquette University’s Tennis Program. I firmly believe that would not have happened without her being introduced to different opportunities through PEARLS.

I have always felt that I am as valued and important to the staff of PEARLS as she is. The staff is great, and I believe that they would be willing to support me just like they support her if I came to them with my own problems.

Our relationship has gotten much stronger. She’s far more open and we can actually talk. She’s become a person that I actually like, and I actually enjoy hanging around her! We’re more open & can play with each other, and even she and her mother have a better relationship. She’s no longer angry at her mother and I believe that being in PEARLS has helped her move through that. I fractured my foot last year and because it affected my income — she would come home after cashing her check and offer me half or all of it. She’d say to me, “I don’t need it. I know you probably need gas money or groceries.” This blew me away because there was a time when she would never show that level of empathy! I don’t know of many young people who are that selfless! At the time, I was so touched that I was moved to tears. I will never forget it.
Alicia George
PEARLS for Teen Girls is a wonderful organization. Three of my daughters are PEARLS girls. I have watched the attitudes of my daughters change and their self esteem grow. This program allows them to see the possibilities that their lives have to offer. Being a single mom I try to teach them the rights and wrongs of the choices that they make. The PEARLS organization embraces the values that I try to instill in them. I have watched my girls transform into respectful, responsible members of society. They have set goals for themselves and are striving to achieve them. I am grateful to PEARLS for sponsoring the college tour that allows them to visit places that they otherwise would not have a chance to. They give these girls an insight and a helping hand into finding out that their circumstances don’t dictate who they are and encouragement to become all that they can be.
Abra E. Fortson
PEARLS has been a wonderful opportunity for my twin daughters. Most recently they completed a leadership training course that completely astounded me and my husband as parents. They returned from a weekend of self examination and empowerment! They have since expressed a tremendous appreciation for us as parents and have raised the level of personal expectation for themselves. Did I mention they both made the honor roll? I would encourage any parent with teen daughters to support this program. In an environment where our daughters are celebrated in such a negative way (objectification in videos and music) I welcome opportunities like PEARLS. If you haven’t checked them out please do so today!

Partner Testimonials

Erica Hendricks, Principal @ Keefe Avenue
We, at Keefe Avenue School have been fortunate to have worked with PEARLS for Teen Girls, Inc. for the past three years. Our 5th-8th grade girls participate once a week in two PEARLS groups. The program has provided our girls the opportunity to build positive adult and peer relationships. The girls look forward to the once a week experience where they gather in a comfortable, safe environment where they learn to trust and respect one another, and develop the ability to be confidantes to their peers. The girls also have come to realize the inner strength, character, and skills that it takes to be a true leader. We at Keefe Avenue believe the program to be effective, and it has become an important part of our curriculum.
Ann Griffiths, Principal @ Silver Spring Academy
PEARLS has many strengths as a program. One of many is the carefully structured and thorough curricular approach to the PEARLS mission and goals. This is not a “fly-by-night-let’s help-the-girls” program. It is carefully thought-out and well organized to address contemporary issues that young women are faced with on a daily basis. And, the program provides a “roadmap” on how to best deal with those issues and grow positively. The program addresses the range of teen demographics: one could take the PEARLS program to a rural 4-H club or to an urban school group…it would be applicable and appropriate. Additionally, the PEARLS staff seems to personally embrace the PEARLS mission/goals and work with great commitment and passion.
James Sonnenberg, Principal @ Westside Academy
“I feel that PEARLS for Teen Girls has had a positive impact on raising our female students self esteem and giving them the necessary tools to handle conflicts in a more appropriate manner. Our girls formed a strong bond with their instructor.”

Success Stories


PEARLS helps girls to self-identify the areas of their lives where they would most like to make changes and improvements. While success is often measured by academic outcomes, it is also measured by the quality of the lifestyle choices and relationships that the girls maintain. Following are a variety of success stories as shared directly by PEARLS Program Coordinators. (Names have been changed to protect the girls’ privacy.)

An 8th Grader Makes a Turnaround

Karen, a Silver Spring Academy PEARLS participant, became a student of Silver Spring Academy the beginning of 2008 after she was kicked out of several other schools. She stood at least 5’11 inches tall, was an 8th grader, and used her stature to intimidate others. When Karen first started at Silver Spring Academy, nearly every word that came from her mouth was very profane. She stayed on the suspension list as a result of her language as well as her behavior. However, once she began to participate in PEARLS small shifts in her behavior started to appear.

As she came to school and participated in PEARLS more often, these shifts began to happen more frequently. Her whole attitude towards her peers, teachers and family members started to move forward in a positive direction. Her mother contacted the Principal and the PEARLS Coordinator to say that her daughter has made a change for the better and that she was proud of what her daughter has accomplished so far. Karen’s grade point average went from a 0 GPA to a 2.8 by the time she graduated from 8th grade. In the beginning of the year the school staff believed she would not graduate from 8th grade. But Karen began to believe in herself. She started to love herself and she began to strive to achieve. She was one of the students that graduated and received the most improved student award. She credits PEARLS with her ability to make these dramatic changes and for making her school year a success.

A Story of Forgiveness


Maya joined Pearls when she was in 7th grade. She is now a freshman in high school and is also a Teen Facilitator at one of our city-wide locations. Last week, Maya came into the office and informed me that she was angry because her 8 year old younger sister was jumped after school by an eighth grade girl, who also happens to be a PEARLS participant, and the girl’s cousin who was a boy.

Maya was extremely angry, and informed me that the girl lived down the street from her, and she was planning to ‘deal with it’ on her own by going to fight with the girl. She was upset because she was off at her high school and her younger sister was still in grade school. She felt that if she was still at the grade school with her younger sister, her sister would be safe. Maya felt that her younger sister was being picked on because Maya was no longer there to protect her. I reminded her that fighting wasn’t in line with the leader that she is, and while I could understand her being upset — fighting was not an option for her as a PEARLS Teen Facilitator.

After venting for a while longer, she finally stated that she wouldn’t fight the other girl. “But,” she said to me, the girl who jumped her sister, “…should not be allowed to come back to PEARLS…and if she is allowed back, I’m going to quit.” I told her again that I understood that she was upset, and because of that, it wasn’t the right time for her to make any decisions about the situation. We talked a while longer and then she left in a much calmer frame of mind.

The following week Maya came into the office to see me again. She gave me a hug and told me, “I thought about our conversation over the weekend and have made a decision. I’m not going to quit my job here because that wouldn’t help anything. Nor do I want her (the other girl) to be kicked out of PEARLS, because this is exactly the place that she needs to be.” In that moment, I felt such a sense of pride and awe at how this young lady demonstrated such forgiveness, empathy, and support of another young lady who hurt her little sister.

This incident is one of many experiences I’ve had that validate this work, especially when it feels the most difficult. It generates such a sense of pride for me in what we do here at PEARLS, and encourages me about the long-term impact that experiencing programs like PEARLS will have on these young women’s individual lives, as well as, every life they will ever touch.

A Short Term Goal Inspires a Lifestyle Change


One of our PEARLS girls was having a hard time choosing a goal that would actually challenge her. Jordan has very good grades and doesn’t get into much trouble at school and she had already filled out her college applications. When we sat down to talk about things that she would like to improve about herself, she revealed that she would like to stop having sex. We made that her goal, but she decided to take it a step further. To make sure she would attain her goal she decided that she would not have boys over to her house or go on any dates with boys. At the conclusion of the semester Jordan shared that she had kept her commitment and said that she would like to make this a lifestyle rather than just a short term goal.

Learning to Focus on What You REALLY Want

In one of my groups I had an eighth grade girl whose goal was to get accepted to Milwaukee High School of the Arts. I would stay after group to help her with her singing. In addition to preparing for a singing audition she also prepared drawings, monologues, samples of stories she’s written, and anything else that she thought could help her get admitted to the school. Then she decided to really focus on singing because that is what she really wants to do. On the day of the audition she focused solely on singing. The next week she was thrilled when she found an acceptance letter from Milwaukee High School of the Arts waiting in her mailbox.

Behavioral Transformation

PEARLS GirlsOne semester when I returned from winter break a new girl joined our PEARLS group. She was very loud, disrespectful, and rude. However, over the course of the semester, I really came to enjoy this young lady. I saw such a beautiful and positive change in her behavior, attitude towards others and the language that she uses.

A Transformation of Attitude


A girl called me and said that she had achieved all A’s in her classes. She was very excited and proud about it. When I saw her in group that week, she was looking down. She said it was because one of the teachers took one of her grades down for various reasons. When I took her aside to talk to her she began to cry because of her grade being lowered. She was very upset about it because she thought she had done such a great job in school. This is a success story because she was so upset about her grades. I can remember a time when she did not care much about her education. She was also very excited because her goal is to get a B in Math and she achieved her goal. Just the fact that her attitude has shifted so much and her goal was so important to her is a success within itself.