Schools And Groups

Schools & Groups

PEARLS Partnership Model

PEARLS for Teen Girls is an innovative leadership development organization serving primarily at-risk African American and Latina middle and high school girls in Milwaukee. PEARLS empowers girls to achieve in school, take responsibility for their behavior, avoid teen pregnancy, violence and other negative traps, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.


PEARLS maximizes its impact, effectiveness, and efficiency by working in collaboration with Milwaukee Public Schools, Choice and Charter schools, and other youth-serving organizations to provide PEARLS programs directly within the places where teens already meet. Most of our partner sites are located in struggling neighborhoods where youth are most in need of support.

PEARLS provides its superbly trained staff, full curriculum, snacks, and all program supplies. Partners provide adequate private space for PEARLS meetings and help to promote the program among girls at the site. In many cases partner sites also provide reinforcement to help girls get access to the resources they need to be successful. For example, if we are working in a school and a girl has set an academic goal, we may work with teachers to help the girl get tutoring or whatever it is she needs to meet her goal.

PEARLS addresses the interconnected issues of poverty, teen pregnancy, violence, and lack of educational attainment at their very roots, by working with girls during the critical teen years, when personal choices that are made can have lifelong consequences. PEARLS girls build leadership skills and character traits such as honesty, personal accountability, learning to listen to the viewpoints of others, clear communication, critical thinking about life and its choices and sound decision making.


Using a custom-designed method for youth-driven goal setting, PEARLS works with girls to build a lifelong capacity to set goals, work an action plan, and achieve goals. It also helps girls develop the critical thinking skills needed to assess and understand why or how a goal was NOT achieved, so that plans can be revised and a new course of action set. Most importantly, PERALS helps girls to cultivate the self-reflection and decision-making skills essential to success in school, relationships, work and life.

PEARLS has made an unwavering commitment to work toward the goal set by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee to drastically reduce teen pregnancy in our community. PEARLS is also committed to the community-wide goal of increasing high school graduation and college acceptance rates among girls of color in Milwaukee. In recent years PEARLS has been very successful in reaching these goals:

  • 100% of PEARLS seniors graduated from high school in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
  • 100% of PEARLS ‘09 graduates were accepted to colleges including Alverno, Florida A & M, Benedict College, MATC, UW-Milwaukee, Lane College, Tuskegee University, Tennessee State, Mount Mary, Belhaven, Rust and UW-Whitewater.
  • 100% of PEARLS girls avoided pregnancy in 2008; 99% of girls avoided pregnancy in ‘06 and ‘07.
  • In the words of a 2007 PEARLS graduate, currently a junior at UW-Parkside: “PEARLS provided me with the support system I need, community involvement, my first job, leadership opportunities, a safe place, opportunities to grow, and my second home. It makes me very happy to say that I will be the first out of my family to attend college.”
JoAnna's Experience Statement

Becoming A PEARLS Site


What We Look For In Partnering Sites

PEARLS Partner Site agrees to do the following:

  1. Have a constituency of girls in need of programming. (Maximum capacity for each group is 25 girls)
  2. Locations must have the ability to support the goals and outcomes of the PEARLS program through a commitment of resources and staff. (e.g., assist PEARLS staff with recruitment and securing PEARLS contracts, permission slips, report cards (when applicable) goal accomplishment evidence, recruitment/retention support, ensuring storage space for PEARLS supplies.
  3. Provide a quiet, private, comfortable, consistent location conducive to PEARLS gatherings. PEARLS groups normally meet once per week for up to two (2) hours per session. If a room change is needed or a session is canceled due to weather or other emergencies, the Location Leader will inform PEARLS and the participating teen girls in a timely manner.
  4. Ability to pay a modest program fee for this tremendous service to girls.
  5. Provide a PEARLS site contact to serve as Location Leader that:
  6. Has access to and is respected by constituency of girls.
  7. Is a clear communicator with a working knowledge of how to maneuver within the site’s culture to get necessary approvals (e.g., approving field trip dates, securing goal evidence, and emergency contact data) from other appropriate staff, Principal or site Administrator(s).
  8. Has time allocated to support in problem-solving, data collection and/or serving as contact for girls to address issues when PEARLS is not in session.
  9. Ensure that all the providers’ responsibilities related to PEARLS are fulfilled.

PEARLS agrees to do the following:

  1. Based on our experiences, PEARLS will provide the criteria in assisting sites to identify a PEARLS contact (Location Leader) for the site.
  2. Provide trained PEARLS Facilitators, which include an Adult Program Coordinator, Teen Facilitators and/or Program Intern or Volunteer to facilitate groups.
  3. Provide curriculum, activities, books, and materials.
  4. Collect data for a primary evaluation process for measuring PEARLS outcomes.
  5. Plan, coordinate and facilitate periodic evening and weekend workshops offered to all PEARLS girls.
  6. Clearly communicate partnership needs and provide ongoing communication related to programming activities (e.g., scheduling off-site field trips, soliciting assistance for receiving report cards, goal evidence or other relevant tracking information on girls)
  7. In partnership with the Location Leader conduct periodic assessments of what is working well and what areas might need improvement for programming/partnering success.
  8. Share with Location Leaders programming ideas and other program resources.

When considering new partnerships, PEARLS conducts a comprehensive due diligence process that includes extensive dialogue with the potential partner and a thorough review of the expectations, resources, and commitment of the potential partner before making a determination.


Other things we consider are:

  • Our capacity to add additional sites.
  • Availability of resources (or lack thereof) for consistency of girls served at site.
  • Geographic and other demographic needs of potential new PEARLS girls.
  • Capacity of site to support PEARLS group (e.g., staff support, through problem solving, flexibility, strong communication)
  • Capacity of site to reimburse PEARLS for agreed upon expenses.
  • Thorough evaluation of the quality of dialogue between PEARLS and the potential partner.

Site Partner Application

PEARLS is currently at capacity and is not looking for new sites. However, we are happy to welcome inquiries and establish a waiting list of sites that we can learn about for consideration when we’re able to expand programming locations.

If you think your school or organization would be a good PEARLS partner, please fill out the Site Partner Application and return it to Gerry Howze at

Site 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."