"GEMS is important to me because it just helps me take a break from all the stress I have or if I’m just having a bad day or week it makes me feel better. it has empowered me to be more confident by just being myself."
- Jocylen


Girls Empowering Meaningful Stories (GEMS) brings together girls in Chicago who experience different walks of life and find meaningful space to share their stories and find solidarity in one another. GEMS empowers girls in Little Village to embrace their hurt, their community and their struggles. GEMS is about young ladies embracing the limited resources they do have, re-identifying themselves, celebrating victories and prevailing. It is about rejoicing in the rich sound of their voice as they speak with confidence, beauty and strength.

GEMS is more than a two-hour program; it’s walking life on life together, showing resilience, practicing forgiveness, standing in unity and leaving a prominent legacy for the next generation of woman leaders. The program ultimately helps young girls find their misplaced selves and makes GEMS out of them.

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GEMS participants


annual class hours


Our Gems program was established in the last 5 years. Young women in middle and high school meet for small group mentoring and peer support. They focus on developing women’s empowerment among themselves and others and the community through discussions, activities, community service, and teamwork. Because of this built-in support system, the young ladies are motivated and encouraged to face challenges and reach their goals in the context of community and mutual respect with their peers.
Lots of planning goes into the GEMS weekly activities and outings. Our GEMS voices are the most important and the ones that get to decide what they would like to be a part of, learn, and develop. One of the leadership development we strive to have here at GEMS is hiring youth throughout the seasons and embracing each youth’s strengths and interests.

Our GEMS has been part of many different activities, such as Chicago adventure therapy, where they have faced their fears and found their inner strengths through biking, kayaking, rock climbing, and white water rafting. The newest asset to our GEMs has been our social media platforms, where each one of our GEMS voices and stories has been shared through the day-to-day activities. They have felt empowered and free to share who they are and what they are up to through our stories, and words.
Our mentors continue to support the young ladies through walking and doing life on life together.

@g.e.m.s_ on Instagram & Facebook

Wednesdays 4-6pm

Contact Us


Ariana Ibarra

Coordinator of Girls Programming Arise Creations & Gems

Elizabeth Garcia

Program Manager Arise Creations & Gems

Jazmin Torres

Director of Girls Programming Arise Creations & Gems

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