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MEMPHIS, Tenn.– New information on the state of girls in the Mid-South. It shows girls are graduating at a higher rate than boys.

Girls are doing some remarkable things, but there are challenges. We’re looking at those challenges and how one Memphis organization is helping set up girls for success.

It’s not just a game, and it’s not just small talk. This is part of the after school program designed to develop the whole girl at Girls Inc. Memphis in Uptown.

Lisa Moore is the CEO of Girls Inc., Memphis.

“I’m often asked ‘well aren’t girls doing great. What’s the big deal? They’re going to school. They’re graduating.’ Now, I think more girls are going to college than men but yet we’re still earning less, Moore said. “There’s still a lot of barriers to girls and women’s success.”

Girls Inc. Memphis commissioned a survey to gather data about the more than 113,000 girls in Shelby County and what they’re up against. Looking at specific challenges for them in mental health, sexual health and safety, educational access, and civic engagement/voting rights.

“One of the stats we have in there is the dramatic increase in the high percentage of teens across the state of Tennessee and also in Shelby County that have contemplated suicide in the last year,” Moore said. “The biggest gut punch honestly is really around high rates of sexual assault and abuse that our girls face both verbally and physically. It’s a national stat and Memphis is no different that 1 in 4 girls will experience sexual assault by the age of 18 that is a statistic that cannot continue.”

The numbers prove, sometimes it’s tough being a girl. 10th grader Saniya Fleming knows the feeling.

“When I was younger I kind of had no worries coming to Girls Inc. has always been a free space for me but I feel like as you get older you’re going to have more challenges just being feminine you got to take care of your mental health and your physical health,” she said.

Saniya has been coming to Girls Inc. since she was five. It’s a family affair. Her older sister, even her mother Sonya are all Girls Inc. girls.

Sonya says the skills taught here help girls overcome some of those big obstacles cited in the research.

“I was willing to drive so that my girls could get the experience that I got,” she said. “Leadership, being bold, being able to speak for themselves.”

Her oldest daughter Jamaya works as a volunteer and serves on a national Girls Inc. Alumni Council.

“I started Girls Inc at the age of 8 and have been connected ever since, so I’m 21. That’s a long time,” Jamaya said.

Jamaya, a senior at the University of Memphis, runs track, pledged a sorority and is heading into an accelerated nursing program after graduation.

“I’m kind of an outspoken person and I’m not really afraid of like speaking or anything or being asked to do like uncomfortable situations so and Girls Inc. has brought all of that out of me, pretty much,” she said.

Girls Inc. Memphis is expanding, adding two more full service centers. The CEO hopes the release of the latest research increases community involvement so they can reach more girls.

“What we’re really going to be doing is challenging the community to look at the data and think about what can I do in my sphere of influence be that in my family, be in my neighborhood, my faith community, my work place, my child’s school, you name it,” said Lisa Moore. “What is your sphere of influence and what can you do to maybe improve some of the data points that will be illuminated?”

Girls Inc. Memphis has served more than 2,000 girls last year through its two existing centers and school partnerships.

You can learn more about the organization and how to take action at

You can listen in on Thursday’s State of the Girl Townhall below.