Sisters Circle™ is a comprehensive relationship-based program designed to mentor girls from disadvantaged Baltimore neighborhoods during their challenging transition to middle school, throughout high school, and into college.
Sisters Circle™ helps to positively transform the lives of our girls during these critical years by:
- matching each girl with a highly qualified volunteer mentor
- organizing cultural, educational and recreational events and trips
- soliciting summer camp scholarships
- connecting students to leadership programs, fellowships and internships
- working with the girls and their families throughout the challenging middle and high school selection processes
- connecting students with Sisters Circle™’s own Director of College Counseling for college guidance and support
Through efforts such as these, Sisters Circle™ has successfully helped our girls to overcome the circumstances that often threaten progress and promise.
Sisters Circle™ was created in the fall of 2000 in response to a request from Irma Johnson, former principal of Dallas F. Nicholas Elementary School in Baltimore. Johnson was worried about her promising fifth grade graduates as they moved into the turbulent middle and high school years. Lacking guidance, they often fell prey to urban risk factors such as teen pregnancy, dropping out of school, drug use, incarceration and violence. In these school settings, 98% or more of students live at or below the poverty line.
Over 95% of mentees come from single-parent households. They live in neighborhoods characterized by high levels of poverty and crime as well as low levels of educational attainment and employment. Ms. Johnson’s students were vulnerable without the support, the resources, the confidence and the knowledge to excel. Too many of her talented girls were lost to the streets.
Heather Harvison, a local businesswoman and educator, responded to Johnson’s concerns. She created a model that provided these girls with an on-going, never-wavering support system built on meaningful, long-term relationships and relevant, high-quality programs. Heather founded SC with the unique goal of intentionally targeting fifth-grade girls in an effort to bolster their self-esteem and feelings of independence and control. In sixth grade, SC capitalizes on those key emotional and developmental milestones by matching each girl with a specific mentor to help pave a path to success.
More than 120 young women representing over 50 schools have benefitted from Sisters Circle™’s close personal relationships and enriching programs. To date, 99% of SC graduates have been accepted to a college or university. Mentees are currently studying at a diverse array of higher learning institutions such as:
- Notre Dame of Maryland University
- Fisk University
- Goucher College
- Hood College
- North Carolina Wesleyan
- Philadelphia University
- Stevenson University
- Temple University
- Towson University
- York College of Pennsylvania
Prior to college, Sisters Circle™ middle school and high school students achieve many milestones along the way. Two–thirds of students attend local, public charter or magnet schools and a third obtain scholarships to private schools. One hundred percent of students have graduated from high school (including one GED). Over the course of Sisters Circle™’s involvement in their lives, many students also benefit from summer camps, cultural and recreational trips, fellowships, internships and leadership programs. Sisters Circle™ exposes these young women to life-changing opportunities they would not otherwise experience.