Girls’ Voices is a collaborative research project involving multi-tiered community-and university-based mentorship and a Young Women’s Studies Club (YWSC) at Hoover High School in San Diego, California. Since its inception 15 years ago, the Club meets weekly and engages in activities that address the life circumstances and coming-of-age issues faced by its membership. Thirty-five to 45 students (95% female) attend weekly. They are a widely diverse population: new immigrants from various parts of the globe, and mostly lower-socioeconomic status Southern Californians of color (Mexican, Asian, and African-American). English is not the first language for several of the members.

Girls’ Voices is a year-long participant-observer and oral history project conducted by key mentors with nine Club members. All activities were shared with interviewee’s ideas, opinions and creative projects noted. At semester’s end, one-on-one oral histories were conducted. These asked the girls to reflect on their: roles within their families; ethnic and racial identities; support networks, educational goals, non-school activities, and the impact of the YWSC on their self-perceptions and choices. This study adds considerably to the extant literature on immigrant daughter’s experiences, girls of color coming of age, and the impact of multi-tiered mentoring within a feminist, race-conscious, and social justice framework.

The activities are aimed at: improving self-esteem, encouraging and modeling the completion of high school and college applications, embracing healthy living behaviors (recognizing and avoiding relationship violence; understanding LGBTQ issues, sexual awareness; breast cancer knowledge; eating habits that promote energy and health and avoid eating disorders), and creative activities that foster knowledge of women’s history, self-expression, appreciation of positive role models, honoring cultural traditions, and collective efforts among club members. The study, and the multi-tiered mentorship central to its implementation, offers insights into the value of a feminist collaborative mentoring.