The mission of A Company of Girls is to strengthen and empower girls and their families and to foster community through the arts. For the first ten years our agency had been a program of larger agencies, namely East End Children's Workshop and PROP. In January of 2006 we incorporated as our own non-profit and were officially out on our own July 1, 2006. As testimony to the success of A Company of Girls programming, we were chosen as one of the top ten after school programs in the country by the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities, receiving the "Coming Up Taller" award in 2002. In 2004 A Company of Girls was selected as a recipient of the "2003 Exemplary Award for Innovative Programs" sponsored by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), in collaboration with the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), the National Prevention Network (NPN), and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). Since its inception, the Exemplary Awards Program has sought to identify and honor outstanding achievements in substance abuse prevention. A Company of Girls was awarded the 2009 Nickelodeon Parent's Pick Award for the best local theater group for kids.
A Company of Girls (ACOG) is an award-winning, nationally recognized after school theater & arts prevention program for girls ages 8-18 that has been serving the Greater Portland community for over 20 years. The mission of our organization is to strengthen and empower girls and their families and to foster community through the arts. The program is free and provides transportation for girls to meeting dates and field trips. ACOG's quality programming shapes young women into the civically responsible and creative future leaders who will make positive changes in our communities. To accomplish this goal, ACOG staff rigorously work to generate a curriculum based in the arts and theater that encourages the building of confidence and self-esteem in order for girls to discover, develop and use their unique and valuable voice; the arts and theater have proven positive results for children in their development as successful, independent adults. High quality arts lessons have been found to have an impact on character understanding, comprehension of character motivation, increased peer to peer interactions, increased conflict resolution skills, and improved problem solving dispositions (Catterall 2002). Through our arts programming, we provide girls the necessary skills to make positive, healthy life choices and ultimately avoid detrimental youth behavior. Girls learn appropriate behaviors, conflict resolution and coping methods, and how to build resiliency. Girls learn many of these skills by employing creative processes to develop their teamwork, abstract thinking and verbal and visual communication skills. ACOG fosters positive peer, family and community relationships that build morale and self-esteem, while eliminating the restrictive social walls that so many girls struggle against. ACOG participants are divided into two groups based on age. The younger fledgling group consists of girls ages 8-10, and the Ensemble, girls ages 11-18. Each group of girls meets with staff two days a week for approximately two hours each day at our program space at 671 Forest Avenue in Portland. Programming begins in the middle of October and runs until the beginning of June, following the Portland Public Schools calendar. ACOG seeks to work with girls over a period of several years. It has been found that there is a longer arch and likelihood of positive long-term outcomes when girls are reached at an early age; the younger we are able to engage girls in the program, the longer they stay in ACOG and the mores successful they are at home, at school and in their communities. The average girl remains in the program for at least 3-5 years with some remaining as many as 9. Over the summer we provide outreach programming with our "Art in the Parks" programming that provides free weekly art sessions for neighborhood children in locations around Portland that have been determined to be some of the highest poverty rates in the state.