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Girls on the Rise Program

Girls on the Rise is a multi-faceted empowerment program for girls and their families residing in the Washington Highlands community in Ward 8. Operating out of the Mary Virginia Merrick Center in Southeast DC, the program provides a safe, enriching after-school and summer camp program for girls ages 8-18.

The program is built on 6 Core Components:

  • Safe and Supportive Environment offers an environment to help build trust, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
  • Academics cultivates increased academic achievement and a greater attachment to school.
  • Social Emotional Development fosters social skills, teaches resilience and fosters strong adult and peer relationships.
  • Middle and High School Transition increases knowledge of what to expect in high school and facilitates the transition from middle school to high school, college and beyond.
  • Career Exploration seeks to increase knowledge of career options and teaches life skills.
  • Parent Involvement provides emotional support, assistance, individual and family counseling and material resources when a family is most in need.

The program uses an evidence-based curriculum that teaches the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to make healthy decisions. Our program goals are aligned with the Positive Youth Development goals of engaging youth so they can reach their full potential.

After-school Program

Our after-school program meets everyday after school from 3-6pm. The program offers academic support and social emotional learning and is delivered by highly trained staff. The girls participate in various enrichment activities designed to foster self-esteem and affirm greatness so that they become confident leaders. This year we had a total of 47 girls participate in the after-school program.

Summer Program

Our summer camp meets every day from 9am-6pm for six weeks. Our summer programming includes academics, art, dance, recreation, and a variety of activities to foster self-esteem, social emotional development, and leadership skills. Operating out of the Mary Virginia Merrick Center, our camp provides a safe, fun, and nurturing environment for girls in 1st-9th grade. This year we had 65 girls participate in the Summer Program. Additionally, we had 12 girls participate in the Girls on the Rise Summer Leadership Institute in partnership with the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program.

Clinical Support

Girls on the Rise offers clinical support to all program participants to address any emotional, behavioral, and social concerns that interfere with a student’s ability to succeed academically and in life. Our staff includes a licensed, clinical social worker, an education specialist, and several social workers. 100% of program participants say they have access to immediate support.

Queens on The Rise

Queens on the Rise focuses on the social and emotional development and academic achievements of participants in 8th-12th grade. This program is designed to engage participants directly in their schools and community. Girls on the Rise provides support to ensure the successful transition from middle school to high school, the completion of high school, and the transition from high school to college or career. This year, we had eight girls participate in Queens on the Rise.

Parent Involvement 

Supporting families is a critical part of our program because strong families make strong and confident children. Our families receive case management, crisis intervention, life coaching, educational advocacy, parenting education, and nutrition and food support. We motivate parents to become strong, confident, and better advocates for themselves and their children. In addition, we host fun family activities for the girls and their families. 

Sponsorship Initiative

The Girls on the Rise Sponsorship Initiative, started in 2021, celebrates the unique talents of our girls by pairing them with an interested member, friend or organization who sponsors the cost of participating in both the summer camp and the after-school sessions of The Girls on the Rise Empowerment Program. Sponsors receive updates and correspondence from the young woman they are sponsoring and are invited to the Merrick Center for a Spring Open House and end-of-summer Showcase. More importantly, Sponsors support the transformative journey of one of our girls as she continues to navigate a path forward.

Click here for more information on our Girls on the Rise Sponsorship Program.


If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out our Volunteer Interest Form.

2024 Summer Camp Application

First page of the PDF file: Summer2024Flyer