Demoiselle 2 Femme, French for “Young Ladies to Women,” is a not-for-profit organization committed to providing holistic programs and services that support adolescent females in a successful transition to womanhood. Demoiselle 2 Femme has provided after school programs to high school girls for more than ten years, and in 2008 announced its plans to build a state of the art facility for girls. The purpose of the H.O.P.E. (Honor Opportunity Purpose Endurance) Center for Girls is to inspire adolescent females ages 12-18 to achieve personal, academic, and social success. Upon completion, the H.O.P.E. Center will serve as a community-based institution which provides gender-specific programming to increase the proportion of girls ages 12-18 who complete high school and matriculate to post secondary education; increase the proportion of girls who avoid teen pregnancy, drugs, violence and alcohol; and increase the number of girls who respect their community and are positive contributors to society. The principles of H.O.P.E. are integrated into programmatic activities and development sessions which fortify the bonds of personal achievement and social responsibility. The building will utilize green technology and will include a library, quiet room, technology center, science lab, dining hall, gymnasium, exercise facility, state of the art kitchen, theater, art studio, art gallery, dance studios, offices, classrooms, multiple rehearsal rooms, and a walking museum which celebrates the accomplishments of professional women who grew up in urban communities.
The cognitive and social development of girls is at the core of all services provided within the center. The target area identified for the HOPE Center is the Roseland Community of Chicago which is home to more than 87,000 residents and one of the cities “diamond in the rough” neighborhoods. In the summer of 2008, the grassroots work began when Demoiselle 2 Femme administered a survey to approximately 300 girls ages 12-19 who reside in the Roseland community as well as 148 parents. Survey results identify strong support for the services which will be provided within the center and a dire need for positive alternatives for teen girls. Enrollment activities include information sessions, registration, parent and student orientation, baseline assessments, get acquainted sessions and a formal induction ceremony recognizing each new participant as a “HOPE Girl.” Upon completion of enrollment, girls will be assigned to a 13-week cognitive track and given an opportunity to select a 13-week social track. The cognitive track provides students with personal and academic development (math, reading science, social sciences, English, foreign language) classes which challenge participants to fully embrace the principles of Honor, Opportunity, Purpose and Endurance. Students will also gain knowledge in urban agriculture, humanities, social justice, cultural diversity, problem solving, and finance. The social track allows participants to select from music (voice, instrumental), art (painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design), dance (ballet, modern, tap, jazz), culinary arts, and theater (acting, set and costume design). With the collaborative efforts of more than twenty-five community partners, the H.O.P.E. Center will become a catalyst for change within the urban environment.
The H.O.P.E. Center will provide a vast array of opportunities to positively impact girls outside of the target community through community based research initiatives with local and national institutions. The Institute for Research on Urban Girls (IRUG) will be a center for research and public policy information which focuses on the healthy development of girls. The goal of the IRUG will be to provide research data that helps to improve the lives of girls who reside in urban communities. Through innovative research projects and published outcomes the institute will support the development of program and services at the H.O.P.E. Center as well as provide information to educational institutions, not-for-profits, government agencies, public policy organizations, parents and girls themselves.