Michelle Perelman and Octavia Payne founded the program in New Castle because they saw a need in the community to mentor and support young women in a direction to encourage positive personal growth and development. Diamond Girls start from the 5th grade and continue throughout their high school graduation. Through the program the girls become empowered not only by their mentors; but each other.
The Diamond Girl program will mentor girls in 5th grade through their high school graduation. Diamond Girls was established as a model program to help encourage girls to become successful women. The program will be introduced to all 5th grade girls in the New Castle schools. 5th grade girls will be given the opportunity to participate in the program through an application process and a referral will be required from a principal, counselor, teacher, church member, agency or community member. The Diamond Girl program will mentor girls from the 5th grade level through their high school graduation, the critical years when girls are developing physically and emotionally. This is also a time when girls are faced with decisions that will have an impact on the rest of their lives.
During this time in their lives, girls will have a unique support system with adult women who are positive role models in their community. Each educational component provides girls with continuing education through professionally developed programs. Their mentors are professional women who are committed to walk alongside their Diamond Girl, assisting her with learning experiences, encouraging her to become "all she can be" and helping her form relationships with positive role models. The relationships that Diamond Girls will form, coupled with the educational component of the program will help each girl prepare for and excel in the adult world.
The Diamond Girl program recognizes that all girls are at risk and that the City of New Castle has unique needs and stands apart from the other Pennsylvania municipalities in population size and demographic characteristics. To name a few:
- According to the 2000 Census data, Lawrence County has 12.1% of its population living below the poverty levels
- Unemployment is 4.8% compared to the other larger Pennsylvania townships and New Castle has fewer high school graduates (77.5%)
- Alarmingly high numbers of families with children under the age of five are listed in poverty status in three areas of Lawrence County including 450 New Castle families
The Diamond girl experience will give girls the benefit of professionally developed programs. The programs will help give girls direction and educate them on how to become successful adults in their homes, schools, community and the world.
We will empower girls by providing them with opportunities that will prepare them physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, spiritually and culturally for passage to responsible adulthood.
The Diamond Girl program will help girls discover direction and meaning. This unique program will also help motivate girls to make better choices and these choices will help them build confidence. Diamond Girls will constantly be educated about how their actions and decisions today will impact their future.
To strengthen girls' qualities in route to building a strong sense of character, emphasizing community, responsibility (goal setting, time management) and enrichment; to train the girls to be strong, forward thinking, information seeking and questioning young adults who have faith in themselves
The girls from this program will be mentored by professional women from our community. All mentors will also provide much needed guidance and tutoring, as well as social companions for various events. The mentors will serve as guides through the Diamond Girl program