Our Story


In Brooklyn, New York, Joanne N. Smith applies for and is awarded the Open Society Fellowship. On September 11th, under the auspices of Title IX of the Education Amendment, Girls for Gender Equity in Sports (GGES) is implemented and housed at the Bed-Stuy YMCA. Within 3 months, Smith recruits 80 girls to participate in health & fitness activities and 15 women volunteers passionate about gender equity.

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The need for GGES to become a non-profit working to end violence against girls and women is clear after an 8 year-old girl is sexually assaulted on her way to school. GGES is established as a community organizing and service delivery 501c3 organization.



Girls for Gender Equity in Sports is renamed Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) as the work continues to expand with a new offering of Gender Respect workshops in local schools.



Paul Robeson H.S. asks GGE to create a program for high school girls, and Sisters in Strength is born. The first Sisters in Strength cohort organizes a dance to raise funds for local domestic violence shelters and facilitates workshops in collaboration with guest speakers on topics such as economic empowerment, college readiness, and legal issues.

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GGE secures five-year state funding to begin Urban Leaders Academy, an after school program at MS 61 focused on holistic support and enrichment for middle school students of all genders.

The second cohort of SIS Interns leads a Street Harassment Summit, creates Hey Shorty video, and starts a poster campaign.



Sisters in Strength participants lead a Participatory Action Research (PAR) Project to investigate and address the problem of sexual harassment in NYC schools. They use PAR data to educate community members and develop Forum Theater (Theater of the Oppressed) monologues to lead educational workshops.


The Coalition for Gender Equity in schools grows to 25 partners working to end sexual harassment in New York City Schools through policy advocacy and direct education.


GGE is awarded a NY State education grant to replicate Urban Leaders Academy in three additional middle schools, and GGE moves its home offices to the Brooklyn YWCA.

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GGE celebrates its Tenth Anniversary and honors lawyer and advocate Anita Hill and participates in filming of the Anita: Speaking Truth to Power documentary.



GGE writes and releases Hey, Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets.

GGE is selected for the first Move to End Violence cohort, a 10-year initiative designed to strengthen collective capacity to end violence against girls and women in the US.

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GGE spearheads a campaign for a gender inclusive My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), a White House initiative focused on boys and young men of color. 


GGE co-organizes first ever Town Hall Hearing on Girls of Color: Confronting the Crisis of Gender Inequality and Issues Affecting Girls of Color

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Community Organizing around school pushout, school safety, and educational reform deepens as GGE sits on the Mayoral Leadership Team on Education and is a member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign. 

SIS brings youth voices to the first ever Black Girl Movement conference and spearheads a Black Girls’ Bill of Rights.


Girls for Gender Equity joins Anita Hill at the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL for the viewing of Anita: Speaking Truth to Power documentary.

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GGE campaigns and partners with New York City Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council to launch the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), a multi-platform coalition including over 200 service providers and youth. YWI is aimed at supporting young cisgender and transgender women in New York City combat chronic racial and gender inequality in outcomes for girls of color in healthcare, education, involvement in the justice system, housing and economic development. 

Joanne N. Smith is named as the co-chair of the Young Women’s Initiative, and GGE creates and facilitates the YWI Young Women’s Advisory Council



GGE launches the School Girls Deserve Campaign to ensure that all cis and trans girls and gender non-conforming youth of color feel safe in NYC public schools through a gender-inclusive dress code and an increase in full-time Title IX Coordinators1 from one to seven.

GGE celebrated it’s 15 year Anniversary on April 12, 2018.

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GGE shifts its Brooklyn-based youth programs to a virtual environment and became a mutual aid hub for young people, youth service providers, and their communities.


Joanne N. Smith joins 7 Black feminist leaders as co-founders of the Black Girl Freedom Fund, a bold new philanthropic effort to invest $1 billion in Black girls over 10 years housed at Grant Makers for Girls of Color.

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It's Our Anniversary!



SIS youth organizers team with GGE’s Policy & Organizing staff to launch a campaign calling for the Schools Girls Deserve. 

GGE leads work to share the YWAC model with other cities and states initiating their own Young Women’s Initiatives.



GGE and organizing partners win the School Girls Deserve campaign and the New York City Council commits to hiring seven full-time Title IX Coordinators.

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GGE centers the needs of cisgender and transgender Black girls and gender nonconforming Black youth by launching A National Agenda for Black Girls (NABG), a collaborative project bringing the needs of Black girls to the national stage and amplifying their voices in the 2020 presidential election.

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GGE Releases The 2021 State Of Black Girls In New York State Issue Brief II: Ending Girls’ Incarceration