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Fort Worth community rallies after Girls Inc. of Tarrant County stripped of funding

Days after Tarrant County leaders voted to strip state funds from Girls Inc. of Tarrant County, some are rallying to support the non-profit.

As the first and second members of their family to graduate from high school, sisters Lizbeth and Jimena Maldonado are at TCU preparing for careers in business and the restaurant industry.

“I feel like people, little girls, look up to us. Like we're the example for them,” said Lizbeth Maldonado.

It’s a future the sisters said was made possible through years of weekly participation with the organization.

“Girls Inc. of Tarrant County pushed us and really inspired us to just know that we can do it too and see that people like us did and routed us there,” said Maldonado. "We were taught about financial literacy, how to apply to colleges, they even taught us about financial aid."

The non-profit, whose mission is to provide health and education programs for all girls from low-income communities to become economically independent women, came under fire in Tarrant County Commissioners Court earlier this week.

The county's top leaders narrowly voted to block $115,000 in state funds over accusations that the group advocates for gender identity exploration, abortion rights and social justice. It’s money that funds about one-third of the program from which the Maldonados benefitted, one that serves girls in Fort Worth’s North Side and Diamond Hill communities.

"It's heartbreaking,” said Jimena Maldonado.

Girls Inc. of Tarrant County CEO Jennifer Limas called some of the claims made against the organization that she leads lies. She said others are tied to groups elsewhere.

She’s now calling on the community to help make up the deficit left behind by the loss of funding that she said Girls Inc. of Tarrant County has received for 15 years.

"Basically, this is unacceptable,” said activist Haley Taylor Schlitz.

Scheduled to speak at an event for Girls Inc. of Tarrant County next week, Taylor Schlitz launched a GoFundMe shortly after getting the news.

"I really think that the community that sees the value in Girls Inc. can really come together and not only show judge and commissioners where we stand and that you don't represent our ideologies, but show the nation that this is important, that Tarrant County girls, underserved girls, black and brown girls, girls matter,” said Taylor Schlitz.

At just over $3,500 raised, there’s a long way to go.

But for those involved, there’s hope that the community will come together to power the organization for generations to come.

"We're empowering. We're leaders. I know we can do it,” said Lizbeth.

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