PEARLS for Teen Girls

PEARLS for Teen Girls is committed to being the community’s signature program for maximizing girls’ self-development. Since its founding in 1993, the organization has enjoyed tremendous success with high percentages of girls graduating high school, avoiding teen pregnancy and setting and achieving self-selected goals.

What they sought

CEO Danae Davis and the Board of Directors wanted to increase the number of girls served to 10,000 per year from 700 a year while maintaining the organization’s quality programming. To develop this strategy she assembled a committee with broad community representation and turned to Spectrum to guide the process.

What Spectrum provided

Spectrum designed and guided a process evaluating key components of the organization’s success, identifying strategies to maintain and to broaden. Spectrum  reached out and included various community stakeholders, including former and current PEARLS girls, and also researched other community and national models.

After the research and discussion, Spectrum and the steering committee developed a regional approach which would allow the organization to maintain close relationships with site partners and have a customized program appropriate for Milwaukee’s diversity. This approach also ensured the continuing value of girl-led programming in each PEARLS group.  Recognizing that programmatic growth requires organizational growth, Spectrum also developed the appropriate infrastructure to support the ambitious goals.  This included a revenue strategy, programmatic evaluation and the staffing necessary to implement.   We also worked to maintain our focus on quality, rather than a traditional timeline, we used phases for growth with movement from phase to phase dependent on quality metrics.


The staff and board unanimously adopted the strategy. Spectrum has continued to work with the board and senior leadership of PEARLS as a partner to assist in implementing the plan, adjust where necessary, and make strategic decisions that keep the plan flexible and the organization on the right track to bring opportunity to thousands of girls.

According to Davis, “Spectrum Nonprofit Services—and Steve Zimmerman specifically—was the absolute perfect choice to provide exceptional facilitation services for our very ambitious undertaking. Steve’s approach utilized his considerable skills to quickly ‘learn’ our organization in a deep and authentic way and to build and maintain trust of all stakeholders—staff, girls, board and other community thought leaders—throughout the year-long process. His acumen about nonprofits and financial sustainability led us to a product (the strategy) that is both operational and visionary while also being inspirational.