Electric Girls

Founded in 2015, Received CAF Grant in 2017

Mission: To increase girls’ confidence and proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math. Electric Girls develops female students into confident leaders and role models in technology by creating a community where girls can learn with and from each other.
Electric Girls Founder Flor Serna was inspired to start this program after her experience as one of the few female audio engineers in New Orleans. She wanted to provide girls with the guidance, skills and confidence to pursue engineering academically and professionally. Flor learned the hard way how often girls are dissuaded from pursuing careers involving science and math.

“I remember when a group of middle school students visiting my recording studio for a career day assumed I was the back-up singer rather than the engineer for the recording session,” Flor says. “I think girls are unintentionally socialized away from pursuing STEM, through the toys marketed to them, teachers’ praise in the classroom, when moms say, ‘Oh, I just don’t do math’ in front of their girls.”

The Electric Girls program includes learning how to operate saws, soldering irons and drills, as well as building electronic devices and computer programming. JLNO’s CAF grant allowed Electric Girls to grow from two after-school programs to twelve. Flor hopes to expand Electric Girls into more after school programs in New Orleans and eventually statewide.

Where Are They Now?

Electric Girls summer camp. Photo provided by: The Electric Girls.

Where Are They Now?

Playland at The New Orleans Family Justice Center. Photo provided by: The New Orleans Family Justice Center

Family Justice Center

Founded in 2007, Received JLNO CAF Grant in 2015

Mission: A partnership of agencies dedicated to ending family violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and stalking through prevention and coordinated response by providing comprehensive client-centered, empowerment services in a single location.

The New Orleans Family Justice Center used the CAF Grant awarded by JLNO in 2015 to build a Child Play Therapy Center, featuring one of the state’s few Registered Child Play Therapists on staff. Although the word “play” may suggest a light-hearted and fun task, this therapist helps some of Louisiana’s most endangered and abused children begin to sort through emotional, serious issues in a non-threatening way.

“The JLNO Play Therapy Center serves some of the most vulnerable children in our community,” says Candice Caccioppi, the center’s Director of Fundraising. “NOFJC’s ability to mitigate the trauma that our child clients have experienced is life-changing and the ripple effects of the therapy we provide are far-reaching in our community. Early trauma intervention changes the trajectory of a child’s life and our ability to deliver those services is furthered by the JLNO Play Therapy Center.” The statistics are sobering: children who live in a home with domestic violence are 74 percent more likely to commit a violent act as an adult, according to the New Orleans Family Justice Center.

There is certainly no shortage of demand for the services NOFJC provides. Approximately 2,000 clients come through the center’s doors needing help every year, and that number is growing. The NOFJC now has people on a wait list for both child and adult trauma therapy services, as counselors try to accommodate an increase in the amount of people looking for help. 

“NOFJC’s immediate goal is to expand services and programs for survivors, particularly children,” Candice says. “We have partnered with CrescentCare and in the coming months will open a Federally Qualified Health Center on the first floor of our building. This is an exciting addition to our center, as we will be able to provide forensic exams for our clients, in addition to general healthcare services for the community.”

Those services include a pediatrician to tend to children in need of health care. With the proper love and attention, NOFJC and JLNO are hoping to give children who are the victims of violence a way to cope and the necessary skills to enjoy a promising future.

Where Are They Now?

Teaching Responsible Earth Education. Photo provided by: T.R.E.E.

Teaching Responsible Earth Education (T.R.E.E.)

Founded in 1995, Received JLNO CAF Grants in 2012 and 2013

Mission: To educate children and adults about the life science processes that govern our planet, to inspire them to appreciate the natural world, and to motivate them to protect it.

Many people would describe T.R.E.E. as a fun way to teach earth science to third, fourth, fifth and seventh graders by allowing them to experience nature through daily and overnight programs. In T.R.E.E.’s 22-year existence, thousands of students throughout the New Orleans metropolitan area have learned more about our world thanks to a comprehensive curriculum and hands -on experiences in outdoor classrooms. 

Heather Szapary was a T.R.E.E. teacher shortly after Sue Brown founded the group in 1995 and is now the group’s executive director. Heather says the Junior League’s impact on T.R.E.E has been vital, through grant money and much more.

“T.R.E.E. has benefited greatly by having had a relationship with the Junior League since 2002,” Heather explains. “A combination of volunteer and financial support helped T.R.E.E.’s 4th grade program, Earth Keepers, get established. They have always kept us abreast of the many ways they help nonprofit organizations in New Orleans. T.R.E.E. has had several board members from the Get on Board program, who provide great leadership and representation of our mission in the community.”

T.R.E.E. plans to keep growing, much in the same way its founders hope the program will breed a greater understanding of nature and therefore a commitment to preserving it. Soon, Heather says the program wants to extend itself into more schools, especially low-income institutions, and increase its annual capacity above the average 1,500 student limit it works under now.

Where Are They Now?

A T.R.E.E. program participant exploring nature. Photo provided by: T.R.E.E.