September was a special month for the Compton Girls Club (ComptonGirls.Club), as the group celebrated its five-year anniversary. Despite the milestone, it was a markedly tough year for the nonprofit.
“We kept events going all year, but funding and donations were low,” Chrystani Heinrich, founder of Compton Girls Club, said in a recent Instagram post. “But I’ve worked with less,” she added.
While Heinrich’s resourcefulness helped keep the engine going, she says the real reason the nonprofit continued to operate was its dedicated team and partners. “All because I am surrounded by Black Women. Black teams. Black businesses,” she also wrote. The club’s leadership staff includes board president, Auriel Bossett (has worked as a social worker for the Department of Children and Family Services for 12 years), as well as Compton residents like Treasurer Abigail Lopez-Byrd, and Secretary Sherida Harris.
Since 2017, the after-school club based in Compton High School’s Library has provided girls from underserved communities access to resources, knowledge, and skills that are not readily accessible to them in their own neighborhoods. “We believe access to these skills will aid them in their journeys to becoming confident, assertive, and independent,” says Heinrich.
Although the girls club had a challenging year, its community is thriving. Recently, their youth girls troop met with the Yetunde Price Resource Center where the youths learned about budgeting, community service, and more. That same weekend the teen group took a field trip with We Are Happy Period to the Get Kiira clinic, where the young women learned about their periods, journaling for self-care, and a little yoga. The team also took a trip to see their billboard, sponsored by Cash App, on Melrose Avenue.
Heinrich has always been a lifelong advocate for women. She credits being a former Girl Scout as setting her on the right path to helping others within her community. For more than a decade she worked in Education as the Assistant Librarian at Compton High School, which is where Compton Girls Club was born. She has collaborated with other like-minded organizations within Compton to bring enlightening and empowering programming centered around educating girls and gender-nonconforming youth to Compton.
Here the founder shares more about what keeps the Compton Girls Club operating–and why its efforts to inspire the next generation of Compton needs support now more than ever.
Can you tell us more about the Compton Girls Club and what it does?
Our big dream is to be a safe space for girls and gender nonconforming youth to learn something new without judgment. We would like to have our own G.IRL Clubhouse where youth can come, hang out, and participate in our workshops. We dream of eliminating all barriers that our audience may come in contact with in regards to learning something new.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced as the founder of the club?
One of the biggest obstacles was probably myself. It was actually stepping back from my dedicated full-time job to create change within my own community. I am a mother and a wife and sometimes it seemed as if it wouldn’t make sense to leave my job to pursue my dream of starting Compton G.IRLS Club, but as I tested it out, I saw that I didn’t get many “no’s”. My community, family, and friends helped me in any way that I needed. When I finally took this on full-time, the pandemic hit. While I thought this initially would slow us down, it actually made the club more popular. We had teens across the country that no longer had access to extracurriculars and connections with friends, but now they could learn something new digitally. We went from an after-school club to a global space to learn.
Can you share another moment in your nonprofit journey that you’re particularly proud of?
There have been so many moments but one of the coolest was in 2020 when we partnered with Quickbooks to create a Small Business Incubator for 10 teens. They brought in mentors who focused on marketing, branding, and budgeting to help our youth start their own businesses. At the end of the cohort, all of the members’ businesses were seeded with a $500 grant to invest in their business. This project was so successful that we were featured in the L.A. Times, and had a campaign that aired on CNN. This was our first big partnership and I am so proud of it.
Why did you choose .club for your website and how did it help your mission as your services went digital, and global, during the pandemic?
I chose .club because it is unique. And honestly, it lends itself to our club name. It was a natural fit. I didn’t even know it was an option until our website designer mentioned it. It also lets folks know what our org is. It’s kinda self-explanatory.
Let’s say another entrepreneurial leader wanted to create a Girls Club in their own city or town. Would you recommend a .club website to them?
I would tell them to go for it. It’s super unique and I honestly love being one of the first to try something new. It also looks like you put a bit of thought into your branding.
What other advice do you have for those who want to empower underserved girls in their own communities?
Take the first step. Yes, your first website will be ugly, your first event may even have some hiccups. But everyone and anything that is great has to take the first step. You can’t just sit on your gifts and goals because they are not just your own, and every day you sit and wait is another day you aren’t gracing the world with your skills and gifts.