Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Girl Scouts Help Shine a Light on Global Girls’ Education

Yesterday, nearly 100 Girl Scouts from Greater New York attended Broadway Shines a Light on Global Girls’ Education, a program about girls’ empowerment worldwide, with performances from the female-focused casts of Broadway’s hit shows, including Beautiful, Waitress, Wicked, and The Color Purple.

As the largest, most successful girl leadership development organization in the world, we know that when girls thrive, the world does too. So naturally, Girl Scouts were excited to attend this incredible event and support First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative, #LetGirlsLearn to raise awareness about the importance of girls’ education around the world.

The Broadway spectacle brought supporters of the #LetGirlsLearn initiative together to help girls attain a quality education that empowers them to reach their full potential. The star-studded event, emceed by comedian and late-night television host Stephen Colbert, kicked off with a performance by the cast of Beautiful.

Soon after, the First Lady took to the stage to welcome attendees and tell why she’s personally vested in addressing the challenges girls all over the world face in attaining a quality education.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and the First Lady of Malawi, Dr. Gertrude Mutharika, then took the stage to share their support of #LetGirlsLearn and to introduce three amazing young women who are already making a difference for girls in their countries—Noor Abu Ghazaleh of Jordan, Summyka Qadir of Pakistan, and Halima Robert of Malawi.

Other event highlights:

A photo posted by The Color Purple (@bwaycolorpurple) on

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hear It from a Girl Scout: Computer Science for All

Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay with United States Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.

Girl Scouts of the USA has committed to develop and launch a computer science progression for Girl Scout Daisy, Brownie, and Junior levels (girls ages 5 through 11), providing computer science opportunities to as many as 1.4 million girls annually in the United States and abroad (at USA Girl Scouts Overseas locations)—part of Girl Scouts' new national STEM initiative focused on engineering, computer science, and outdoor STEM experiences. GSUSA will add computer science programs for Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors (ages 12 through18) beginning in 2018–2019.

Earlier this week, the White House hosted a summit, Computer Science for All, and Girl Scouts were there! Kaitlyn, a Girl Scout from Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, attended this event and shared her experience with us!

On Wednesday, September 14, myself and five other girls from Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay participated in a Computer Science for All summit at the White House in Washington, DC. We were honored to represent all of Girl Scouting at this conference and have an opportunity to show off some of our skills. During the conference, groups discussed how they were making computer science—specifically coding—available to all, and Girl Scouts talked about how this could be integrated into Girl Scouts to include all girls. 

At the reception after the summit, we were able to demonstrate our projects that we made using various coding programs. CyNai and I presented games that we created with Scratch. C’Yenna and Sarah presented their website about What a Girl Can Do with Girl Scouts and included the different trips we’ve gone on with our Girl Scout troops. Autumn made a Choose Your Own Adventure game with Python, and Samantha wrote more than 3,000 lines of batch script code for her post-apocalyptic game, Project Aftermath.

While there, we were able to meet several authoritative figures from the computer science world. They gave us advice about how to make our current projects better and told us what they enjoyed about our projects. I was excited to talk to the MIT group that created Scratch and get tips from them on my Fish Game project I brought to the White House and another, more elaborate game project I am working on.  

Overall, it was amazing having the opportunity to attend this event and meet all the people behind the Computer Science for All Initiative. It was eye-opening to me and helped me realize how honored I was to have the opportunity to learn Scratch through Girl Scouting, when most kids do not have any exposure to coding. I go to Cab Calloway School of the Arts, and I am planning to take my knowledge of coding and some ideas back to my school so other students can experience computer science. Hopefully, the students at Cab can see how technology and the arts can come together.

The White House cupcakes were amazing and I will definitely hang on to the Hershey Kisses box with the White House logo and President Obama’s signature on it well after the chocolate is gone. I appreciate Girl Scouts of the USA, Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, and the White House for providing this cool opportunity to us. Technology runs the world and is very much a part of our everyday lives. To move forward we need the next generation to have a better understanding of how the technology around them is created and operates.

Tune In This Saturday to See Girl Scouts Live on the Annual Broadcast of American Graduate Day!

Girl Scout Gold Award recipient and National Young Woman of Distinction Pooja Nagpal and troop leader Rae Yan, from Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, will be appearing live on public television’s American Graduate Day!

American Graduate Day 2016 is broadcast live from New York City and airs on public television stations across the country on Saturday, September 17 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) and on Facebook and americangraduate.org.
Rae Yan 

Hosted by Soledad O’Brien, the annual event features leading education, media, and celebrity figures who will share inspiring stories of those who help to close the graduation gap. This year the show is focusing on mentoring relationships that help students—which is why they picked Pooja and Rae to tell their story of how their relationship at Girl Scouts helped Pooja achieve amazing things.

Pooja met Rae through Girl Scouts when she was in the sixth grade. Rae served as both a role model and supporter for Pooja, encouraging her to follow her interest in math and martial arts— and to dream big! Rae also encouraged Pooja to reach for leadership, something that hadn’t been part of Pooja’s previous experience. She helped Pooja pursue courses in engineering and, ultimately, apply to the electrical engineering and computer science program at the University of California, Berkeley, where only 7 percent of students are females—and to which Pooja was accepted.

Pooja Nagpal
At Girl Scouts, Rae worked with Pooja to build her confidence and complete requirements for the Gold Award. To earn the Gold Award, Pooja taught girls in Los Angeles and India about self defense. Pooja, who has a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do, wanted to help girls in her neighborhood, sometimes the victims of violence, to protect themselves. She went on to found the nonprofit For a Change, Defend, and spoke out to raise awareness about how females can empower themselves and protect themselves against violence. With Rae’s support, Pooja became a leader in her community and helped others by becoming a role model.

Tune in to find out more about their wonderful story. You’ll learn how mentoring helped Pooja, and how being part of Girl Scouts can help girls!

Support Girl Scouts on American Graduate Day on Facebook and Twitter using #AmGrad.

American Graduate Day is part of American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen—a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help more kids stay on the path to graduation.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Dignity. Strength. Success. Equality. Change. Goals. These words represent so much of the fabric of Girl Scouting, but they also happen to be themes we’ll be highlighting this month as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, which starts on September 15th.

Fun fact? September 15th happens to be the anniversary of when Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua gained independence! Plus, Mexico’s Independence Day is the very next day, and Chile celebrates theirs just a few days later on the 18th.

In that spirit, we’re going to be celebrating some of the most independent, gutsy, innovative, and successful Hispanic and Latina women in history this month. Check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts all month long for amazing inspiration from women including Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor; Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to go to space; civil rights activist Dolores Huerta; seven-time Grammy winner Gloria Estefan; and 2016 Olympic superstar (not to mention gold medalist!), gymnast Laurie Hernandez.

We know—it’s an impressive roster!

These women aren’t just role models for Hispanic or Latina women. They’re not even just role models for women. They are role models for all of us as humans, striving to be the best we can and give the best we’ve got back to our chosen fields, our communities, and future generations. Join us in applauding all they’ve given us, as well as the legacies they’ve already left and continue to create.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hear it from Girl Scouts: Voice of the Cheetah Destination!

Girl Scout Destinations provides girls with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel and develop leadership skills in a whole new light. Thanks to funding, in part by the Elliott Wildlife Values Project, the Voice of the Cheetah Destination is giving 15 girls—12 Girl Scouts from the United States and three Girl Guides from South Africa—the opportunity to explore a career in wildlife conservation, protection, or advocacy. During this epic, two-part Destinations program, participants first traveled to Washington, DC, for a six-day adventure working with the Cheetah Conservation Fund to learn more about the challenges of cheetah conservation, including meetings with researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, a visit with the “great cats” at the National Zoo, and a trip to Capitol Hill to meet with several members of Congress to understand their advocacy for wildlife conservation matters. Then, a year later, girls will travel to Namibia, to practically apply what they learned in Washington, DC. They will join forces with Cheetah Conservation Fund’s founder and executive director, Dr. Laurie Marker, and explore national parks and protected areas, learning about wildlife, ecosystems, and conservation issues.

Kira (KC), 14, from Girl Scouts of Black Diamond, Jenna (JT), 14, from Girl Scouts of San Jacinto, Olivia, (OB), 13, from Girl Scouts of Orange County, Jessica (JH), 17, Girl Scouts Heart of Central California, and Savannah (SF), 16, from Girl Scouts of North East Ohio recently returned from part one of this adventure. Here’s what they have to say:

How did you find out about Destinations, and what inspired you to apply to Voice of the Cheetah?
SF: My mom and I were going through the Girl Scout website when we found the options for Destinations. I decided to apply because I loved cheetahs as a little girl and I love science—mostly zoology.
JH: I was inspired to apply to Voice of the Cheetah because for the Gold Award I am educating school children on endangered species and how they can help. Another inspiration for me is my dream to run a zoo when I am older.

What have you learned about wildlife conservation from your Destination experience?
OB: My Destination experience taught me a lot about wildlife conservation. Most importantly, I learned that every person has the power to instigate change
KC: I learned how anybody, even the youngest kid, can have a voice and make a difference. I also learned how to help wildlife by teaching others about its importance.

How has the Destinations program inspired you to protect wildlife, raise awareness, and/or inspire others to protect wildlife?
JT: It definitely makes me want to spread the word about conservation to locals in my area. Girl Scouts are capable of doing so much, they taught me that for sure. They made me realize how much of an impact I have on the world and conservation as a whole.
KC: I’m just one voice, but I can inspire other strong voices, like my Girl Scout troop, so that they can spread it to others to save the cheetahs! This program has inspired me to educate people on how to save wildlife, hoping that they will change their behavior and positively affect animals around the world. It taught me how to make a difference by speaking up, educating other people on the issue, and not giving up. I want to share that with the world!

Is there a particular moment you can recall from your experience with Destinations that illustrates why you feel travel is important?
JH:  Traveling is important because it allows us to be a part of another culture. I saw this in everyone on the Destination because we were from all over the United States and even had a few girls from South Africa. The culture on the East Coast is quite different from the West Coast, but it is especially different from South Africa. It was amazing to be able to share our culture and customs with the Girl Guides and have them educate us about theirs.
KC: Travel is important because you get to interact with diverse cultures and learn about their ideas—more than you could in a classroom. Experiencing that unique view of the world is one of the most eye-opening feelings imaginable.

What advice would you give Girl Scouts thinking about attending a Destination?
JT: Do it. They are so much fun and you get the chance to make so many good friends to last you a lifetime. Make sure you're comfortable flying on your own and definitely pack comfortable shoes. :)
SF: Don't be concerned about making friends—I was, so I made my mom buy me a deck of cards so I could at least play cards with someone. The girls there don't know anyone either—so it would benefit you and make them happy if you just started talking to them when you first get there.

How did you earn money to travel on your Destination and what advice do you have for girls saving for a trip?

OB: The majority of my money is derived from savings and Girl Scout Cookie money. Every holiday and birthday, I always ask for the same gift from everyone—Destination money. I consistently work my hardest to sell hundreds of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to earn incentive dollars. Over time, this money has accumulated and allowed me to travel. For another girl saving money for her Destination, I would say that every dollar counts, and that experience is worth more than any item you can buy on Amazon.

What kind of impact has being a Girl Scout had on your life?

JT: Being a Girl Scout has been one of the best things I've ever decided to be a part of. I get to do so many amazing things for both my community and places around the world. I've done so much through Girl Scouts and I plan to continue doing everything I can to have a positive impact on the world.
JH: Girl Scouts has taught me how to be a leader and how to make a difference. It has encouraged me to go outside of my comfort zone and reach for the stars. Girl Scouts has taught me that whatever you set your mind to, you can achieve.

Where will your next Destination take you? The possibilities are endless.