Contact: Dena Herrin


Girls Inc.’s Project Accelerate advances gender parity through a reimagining of workplace equality. The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge is hosted by Melinda French Gates’ Pivotal Ventures among other donors leading the charge advancing equity.

Philadelphia, PA, July 29, 2021 – Girls Inc., the national organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, has received $10M in funding as one of four awardees selected by the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge to benefit its Project Accelerate program. Project Accelerate aims to expand the power and influence of women in the United States by 2030. Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern new Jersey was part of a team of seven affiliate leads that developed Project Accelerate and spearheaded the application process.

Building on Girls Inc.’s evidence-based programming, Project Accelerate addresses inequality in the workplace, particularly the absence of women of color in positions of influence and leadership. The program will accelerate young women’s trajectories through college and career entry, leveraging partnerships with corporations and social impact organizations to ensure both their preparation and their access to positions of influence. Project Accelerate will also reduce the gender gap by working with young women starting as early as their junior year in high school to ensure they have the resources and support to thrive as leaders. Through a network of 78 affiliates, including here in Philadelphia, Project Accelerate aims to lift 5,400 diverse women into corporate positions of power and influence, shifting the equity landscape for generations.

“The development of Project Accelerate has been an extraordinary collaboration aimed at changing the career trajectory for young women. This transformational award will help us unleash the power of the Girls Inc. network, our influential boards, community leaders, corporate donors, and alumnae, to provide paths and mentorship for young women who have been excluded from leadership opportunities. We are excited to see how Project Accelerate and the awesome women participating will thrive and redefine equity in the Greater Philadelphia region and across the nation,” said Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey’s Executive Director, Dena Herrin.

“A generation of bold young women stands ready to lead change in the world. Yet entrenched, inequitable systems prevent them from having the opportunities and resources they need to succeed,” said Girls Inc. President and CEO, Stephanie J. Hull, Ph.D. “Girls Inc. is proven to make a positive difference in the lives of girls. Support from the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge for Project Accelerate extends the proven Girls Inc. Experience through college and into early careers. The investment also supports change in the companies that employ these young leaders. In its insistence on justice and equity for women, Project Accelerate advances equality for all.”

Project Accelerate will prepare thousands of young women leaders not merely to succeed in workplace environments, but also to affect cultural change from within. Expected outcomes include an increased number of young women graduating on time; an increased network of influence for girls from historically marginalized groups; and job placement in high-paying, positions of leadership. In doing so, women will acquire the means and the opportunity to elevate their status—and their families, neighborhoods, communities, and organizations.

The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, which launched in 2020, is the first competition centered on gender equality in the U.S. with an award of this magnitude and represents an opportunity to invest in and empower women leaders who bring a wide range of lived experiences to their work to advance women’s power and influence in the U.S. Hosted by Pivotal Ventures, with support from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and managed by Lever for Change, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge highlights the groundswell of energy and activism of the gender equality movement.

Learn more about Project Accelerate here.

Read Girls Inc. Project Accelerate: Reimaging Workplace Equality A Prospectus Presented to Equality Can’t Wait here

For the full announcement of the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge awardees, please see here.


Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern new Jersey has been serving girls and young women in the Greater Philadelphia region since 1961, originally as Teen Aid. In collaboration with schools, community partners, the juvenile justice system, shelters, corporations, and approximately 300 volunteers, we provide programs for thousands of girls and young women in the Philadelphia region’s most under resourced communities each year. Our holistic approach recognizes that empowering girls to be successful, independent women requires that they have the tools to make healthy decisions about their bodies, receive academic enrichment, are exposed to mentors who work in a broad range of careers, have strategies to deal with bullying and violence, and parents/caregivers engaged in their success.


Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy. We work with schools and in communities to provide the mentoring relationships, safe spaces, and evidence-based programming that are proven to help girls succeed. Girls build the knowledge, skills, and confidence to lead change in their lives and effect change in the world. Girls Inc. also works with and for girls to advance legislation and policies that increase opportunities for all girls. Together with partners and supporters, we are building a new generation of leaders.