Organized in 2001, the First Coast Girls Initiative (FCGI) was the creation of three amazing women, Patricia, Ellen and Susan (Ryzewic) Remmer. The two sisters with their mother Pat made a conscious effort to focus their time, talent and treasure on improving the lives of girls. The Remmers wanted to see replicated in Jacksonville the benefits the Boston community accrued from a girls’ coalition established there in the early 1990s. Having participated with the Boston Girls Coalition, the three women understood the positive impact that a collaborative effort could have in our city and took on the challenge of creating a coalition of agencies with a focus on girls.
The Remmers enlisted Dr. LaWanda Ravoira from PACE Center for Girls, Inc. state office and Shirley Webb from the Women’s Center of Jacksonville to help organize and facilitate the initial meetings. The group studied existing research on girls and community coalition models, considered many local concerns and identified immediate priorities. Through a generous Reflective Practice grant from the Community Foundation and The Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, FCGI was able to evolve, over the next several years, from study to strategy, and identified a collective vision, mission, guiding principles while maintaining the main goal of the Remmers of collaboration and advocacy.
The FCGI was officially launched in October 2002. In 2003, the Leadership Team, represented by the executives from each of the over 25 member organizations, was formed. This team exists today and has a formal chairperson with a one year term.
FCGI hosted the 1st Annual Growing Great Girls Workshop in spring of 2006 in which over 60 professionals interested in girls attended. After that inaugural event, the FCGI Leadership Team held a strategic planning retreat which resulted in refining the mission, created working committees around Education & Advocacy, Outreach and Evaluation as well as a commitment to offer three Growing Great Girls Workshops per year utilizing the expertise of professionals within our member organization as well as nationally renowned speakers.
This year, First Coast Girls Initiative will embark on a broader strategic plan to address the issues of outcomes, more intense community collaboration and general advocacy for girls. Our hopes are that all adults interested in the health, well being and rights of girls will join our initiative.