Empowering Girls to Fulfill Their Dreams

Empowering women may be a trending topic right now, but a local organization has been focused on this mission for more than 10 years. 

“Via our programming at Girls on the Run, we educate girls on the positive impact they can have in their communities,” Executive Director Meagan Kukowski says.

Girls on the Run serves Maricopa and Pinal Counties and is a nonprofit positive youth development program dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her potential. The organization was founded in 2004 and has served more than 10,000 local girls and their families. The program consists of a 10-week program where girls in third-eighth grade develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness. 

In addition to the program, each team of girls creates and executes a local community service project. This experience allows girls to witness the positivity that comes from helping others.

Volunteers make Girls on the Run successful by serving as coaches at schools and sites across the Valley. Many of these volunteers are women and attest to the pride that comes from guiding girls along their journey of self-confidence. 

Meagan first got involved with Girls on the Run as a volunteer coach in 2005 while working for another nonprofit, but quickly saw the girls have breakthrough transformations and attained a larger role to assist in the program’s growth. 

“During my first season coaching, we served about 40 girls. Last year we served over 10,000,” she says. 

Girls on the Run was recently included as a top research-based program in a Social-Emotional Learning Guide developed by researchers at Harvard University and has been recognized by the National Afterschool Association as one of the most influential after-school programs today. This coupled with rave reviews from parents makes it an organization destined to help young women achieve lifelong success and confidence. 

“One of our parents recently said that her daughter gained awareness of concepts like negative self-talk, and the program helped her to change the way she views the world and the way she views herself,” Meagan says. “In today’s society, that is essential.”

“The program inspires girls to be the authors of their own stories and forever changes the way they see themselves and their opportunities.”