Cool Girls was founded by Dawn Smith in 1989 in response to the desperate plight of young girls living in the East Lake Meadows housing community. At that time, East Lake Meadows was known as one of Atlanta’s most violent public housing projects. With the support of Epiphany Episcopal Church and the Urban Training Organization, Smith and a handful of dedicated volunteers set out to create a secure, supportive environment for the girls of East Lake. The adults provided academic support through tutoring, broadened the girls’ world-view through field trips, and formed a girls-only club where the girls could engage in positive, self-empowering activities that nurtured their development. The girls embraced the opportunity and named themselves “The Cool Girls of East Lake.”
Throughout the years, Cool Girls program development has been responsive and relevant to the needs of the girls we serve. In May 1990, the Cool Sisters mentoring program was implemented. In 1994, the Cool Scholars program was initiated, providing volunteer tutoring to help with homework, test preparation, and to reinforce the importance of academic achievement. In the late 1990s, the middle school curriculum was developed. As Cool Girl members moved into high school, opportunities for continued engagement were identified and implemented. Cool Futures was established to encourage high school Cool Girls to provide new programming ideas and input on how to continue making a relevant impact in the lives of the girls we serve.
Today, Cool Girls serves over 400 girls through our partnerships with 9 Title 1 schools in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. We provide motivation, encouragement, and reinforcement to help girls make smart choices that deter risky behaviors while giving guidance for positive transformation. Over our 23 year history, over 4,000 girls have come through our doors. Cool Girls develops bonds with our girls, and their parents, giving support as early as eight years old until womanhood.