of Greater Santa Barbara

Girls Inc. was founded in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War. Across the decades, we adapted to meet the specific environmental challenges facing girls and young women, always working in partnership with schools and communities, and guided by our founders’ fundamental belief in the inherent potential of each girl. Woven into those early girls’ clubs are the same core values of Girls Inc. today: the importance of creating a safe gathering place for girls to learn and to share in a sisterhood, and a strong premise that each girl can develop her own capacities, self- confidence, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

In 2018, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara celebrated its 60th Anniversary of inspiring girls to be strong, smart, and bold in the Santa Barbara and Goleta communities.

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara 60th Anniversary Timeline
  • 1800s-1900s


    Girls Inc., a national organization, was founded as “Girls Club” to serve girls and young women in the aftermath of the Civil War. The clubs were founded upon the fundamental belief in the inherent potential of each girl and established the core value of creating a safe gathering place for girls. (Photo courtesy: Girls Inc. National Office)

  • 1950s


    In 1955, the Junior Women’s Club of Santa Barbara responded to a teenager’s plea on a local “Free Speech” radio program. The young woman asked, “Why can’t we have a Girls Club in Santa Barbara?” Mrs. Ada McReynolds Wise, a retired dress designer and member of the Women’s Club, responded.

    On March 17, 1958, the Girls Club of Santa Barbara  was incorporated as a non-profit organization. The mission: To help girls become good wives, mothers, homemakers, and citizens.  The Girls Club served 280 girls a year ages 6-16 years, and the annual membership fee was $1 per girl.

  • 1960s


    In 1964, $225,000 was raised to purchase land and build the first Girls Club facility in Santa Barbara at 531 E. Ortega Street.

    In 1966, the Girls Club of Goleta was founded and began offering services to girls in Goleta.

  • 1970s


    The focus of the Girls Club of Santa Barbara and Goleta began to change, to help girls grow-up to become well-rounded, independent young women. Programs were expanded to include leadership, sports, health education, and cultural and career orientation programs.

  • 1980s


    The Girls Clubs continued to grow in popularity and service, expanding through the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Santa Barbara School District. The Girls Club published “Choices” and “Challenges,” teen-life planning journals, and formed Advocacy Press, a non-profit publishing company.

    In 1989 that the Girls Club of Santa Barbara and the Girls Club of Goleta merged to become the Girls Club of Greater Santa Barbara.

    In 1989, the Williams C. Hall Gymnasium was built at the Ortega Street complex, which today offers toddler, recreational, and competitive team programs.

  • 1990s


    “…because growing up is serious business.” This new decade brought significant changes, including a name change for the organization to Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara. This new name and affiliation with the national Girls Inc. organization reflected a more comprehensive approach to impacting the lives of girls.

    During this time, the organization established itself as a vigorous advocate for girls.

  • 2000s


    Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The mission of Girls Inc. was revised to reflect the modern opportunities and challenges facing girls.

    Research-based national programs offered included Operation SMART, Media Literacy, Economic Literacy, Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy, Sporting Chance, Friendly PEERsuasion, and Project Bold.

  • Today


    The Goleta Valley Teen Center opened in 2015 for after-school programming for girls in grades 7-12, and in 2017 offered its first summer camp.

    In 2017, the Girls Inc. National Organization and its Affiliates unanimously adopt a new advocacy platform to address the challenges girls face today.

    In 2018 Girls Inc. celebrates its 60th Anniversary in Santa Barbara, Imagining the Future for Girls.

  • Tomorrow


    Although the times and programs have changed, Girls Inc. always has been, and always will be, all about the girls.

    With continued commitment and dedication to making a measurable and lasting difference in the lives of girls and young women, we will continue to engage in advocacy and services that focus on the needs of girls, including girls who face multiple, intersectional challenges such as those based on sex, race, religion, ethnicity, immigration status, disability, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

    We invite you to stand In Her Corner with us.

Healthy. Educated. Independent. This is how I want my daughter, and all girls in our community, to grow up.

Carissa, Donor and Volunteer