Monday, March 24, 2014

Unfinished Business on Capitol Hill

On March 20, 2014 Girl Scouts of the USA hosted a brown bag lunch briefing for staff on Capitol Hill to highlight the findings from the Girl Scout Research Institute’s report, The State of Girls: Unfinished Business. The panel included coauthor of the report, Dr. Kamla Modi from the Girl Scout Research Institute, Communications Director of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast council, Marcy Germanotta, and a Girl Scout from the council, Lily.  Dr. Modi highlighted many of the key findings in the report which includes major trends affecting girls’ leadership and healthy development in the U.S. today. In particular, she addressed key findings relating to girls’ emotional and physical well-being; 33% of girls in the U.S. are obese or overweight, while 30% of girls struggle with their emotional health, stating they feel sad or depressed.

The panelists from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Council, Marcy Germanotta and Girl Scout Cadette Lily, offered perspective on what Girl Scouts does to address many of the issues emphasized in the report in their area in Southeast Virginia. Specifically, Ms. Germanotta spoke about her council’s many community partnerships that work to bring Girl Scouting to girls from various communities. As stressed in The State of Girls: Unfinished Business, many girls do not have the opportunity to engage in out-of-school activities. The report states that participation in regular and long lasting out of school activities such as Girl Scouts allows for girls to avoid unhealthy and unproductive behaviors by providing a safe environment that will empower youth to make a difference in their communities.

One of the highlights of the panel was Lily, a Girl Scout from Colonial Coast council , who shared  examples of activities she is involved in through  her council’s advocacy committee which allows adult and teen members to speak up for policies that support the well-being of girls through addressing policy makers and fellow stakeholders. She also spoke about her experiences with bullying/relational aggression in school, and how she has learned to navigate unhealthy social situations in a way that allows her to overcome the scenario and recognize the positive people in her life. According to The State of Girls, 30% of girls have experienced some form of bullying from their peers. Lily is working on bringing a Girl Scout program called BFF (Be a Friend First) to her community with the hope that girls will learn new ways to develop healthy relationships with one another while building self-esteem and confidence.

The briefing was an opportunity to share the data compiled from The State of the Girls report with staff on Capitol Hill to help inform policy on many of these issues which impact girls today.

Apply Now for the 2014 Peace First Prize!

Calling all Girl Scouts! Applications and nominations are now open for the 2014 peace first prize. The deadline is March 31, so apply now!

Too often, young people in our country are dismissed and overlooked. They are either portrayed as trouble-makers, technology-addicts, or just plain careless … Peace First exists to change all that. Imagine a group of incredible young people, each honored publicly for their role in transforming their communities into more peaceful and just places. Imagine sharing their inspiring stories with the public. Imagine distinguished Americans from the arts, politics, sports and business communities championing young people as the real celebrities of our culture. Imagine adults seeing the power of young people as positive influences and problem-solvers. You have now envisioned how the Peace First Prize will ignite and recognize youth peacemaking.

Last year, Peace First announced 10 winners of the first annual Peace First Prize at a press conference at the New York Public Library during NBC News’ “2013 Education Nation Summit.” The Peace First Prize is a national award recognizing leading youth peacemakers who are focused on creating peaceful schools and communities. The winners will comprise the first class of Prize Fellows, who each receive a 2-year, $50,000 Fellowship to further their peacemaking work.

The 10 inspiring young people were selected as 2013 Prize Fellows because through their compassion, courage, and ability to collaborate with others, they have been the driving force behind positive changes in their communities. Their projects vary widely, from addressing the needs of homeless youth to preventing school bullying, from launching sustainable school-based initiatives to encourage inclusion to promoting tolerance and non-violence through community initiatives. Some winners have evolved their projects into nonprofit organizations, while others have cultivated change through campaigns and grassroots efforts.
Thursday, March 20, 2014

AT&T and Girl Scouts Team Up to Inspire Girls to Pursue STEM Careers

Penned by: Nicole Anderson, Executive Director of Philanthropy, AT&T and Anna Maria Chávez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

What do the Girl Scouts of the USA and AT&T have in common? Well, we love technology, and we love to see girls succeed and grow into women who are leading the way in whatever career they choose. Girls are watching and they are incredibly savvy.  Today’s girls are digital natives who have the potential to lead us to new technological breakthroughs in the 21st century.  Unfortunately, even when girls start out interested in careers that involve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), they often don’t pursue them after they graduate.

Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, a study conducted by The Girl Scouts Research Institute, found that 74 percent of girls — and an even higher percentages of African-American and Hispanic girls —say they’re interested in these very fields. However, 13 percent of these same girls who are interested in math and science in school say a STEM career is not their first choice.

So, where is the breakdown between the girls’ interest and action, particularly among those who are the most likely to drop out of high school? How can we help girls learn about the cool jobs they can get with STEM degrees and help them believe they can not only do these jobs, but succeed in them?

This is where AT&T and the Girl Scouts are working together, because there isn’t one easy answer.

Our successful collaboration encourages underserved high school girls to imagine a future STEM career by providing them with afterschool STEM mentoring activities. AT&T Aspire has made a $625,000 contribution that will support 800 girls, the majority of whom are at-risk of dropping out of high school, to participate in hands-on learning activities designed to educate and motivate them to pursue these areas of interest in college  and careers.

By teaming up local AT&T employees with Girl Scout councils across the U.S., including the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council, Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada, Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio and Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, we are working together to spark girls’ interest in STEM courses and opening the door to new career options.

When AT&T hires new employees, we look for candidates with STEM degrees. Almost three-quarters (72%) of our recent student hires – including interns – begin their career in a technology centric area, including IT, Labs, Network Engineering/Ops, and Technology Sales. And we want more young women to graduate ready to step into these jobs and hit the ground running.

By combining the energy of AT&T and Girl Scouts, we know that we are preparing the next generation of women to be leaders in the 21st century workforce.

Many people think of the Girl Scouts selling cookies; we like to think of them as smart cookies – the ones that go on to be the doctors, engineers, and computer programmers of tomorrow!
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Happy Birthday from Anna Maria Chávez

I want to wish you all a very happy Girl Scout Day, and best wishes for a successful and exciting 102nd year! Today we celebrate the birthday of our Movement – the day Juliette Gordon Low assembled that first small troop in Savannah, Georgia and gave the world Girl Scouts.

Over these last 102 years, Girl Scouts has helped millions of girls grow into women who have changed our world forever and for the better.  Today we are continuing Juliette’s legacy, breaking new ground and developing innovative new programs that are giving girls the skills they need to be leaders in this fast paced world.

On the 102nd birthday of our Movement, let’s all take some time out to reflect on our past, and look forward to a new year full of exciting opportunities for Girl Scouts. Happy birthday to Girl Scouts everywhere!
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Girl Scout Week Kicks Off in Good Faith

This year during Girl Scout Week, Girl Scouts of the USA will celebrate its rich history of partnership and collaboration with faith-based communities by highlighting the My Promise, My Faith pin girls can earn that complements existing religious recognitions and allows all girls to further strengthen the connection between their faith and Girl Scouts.

Everything in Girl Scouting is based on the Girl Scout Promise and Law, which include many of the principles and values common to most faiths. Thus, while a secular organization, Girl Scouts has, since the Movement began, encouraged girls to take spiritual journeys via their faiths' religious recognitions.


“The motivating force in Girl Scouting is spiritual, and I am proud to lead an organization that places individual faith at the center of its mission,” said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “We encourage and support every girl to grow in her religion, and we work to foster an environment that celebrates a girl’s spirituality, even as we champion inclusion and mutual respect for all religious beliefs. As a mother, a woman of deep faith, and a female leader, I am so proud of our legacy of close collaboration with religious institutions across the world, and I look forward to continuing to work with faith-based communities to help girls earn their My Promise, My Faith pin.”

Every time a girl makes the Girl Scout Promise, she is promising to “serve God.” One way she can do this is to participate in the religious award program of her faith-based community and wear the recognition proudly on her uniform.

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Faith-based awards include religious recognitions as well as the My Promise, My Faith pin. In addition, many faith-based communities offer programs, in conjunction with Girl Scouts, that recognize local girl members. Adult volunteers from faith-based organizations partner with girls by connecting the My Promise, My Faith pin to their faith’s own religious recognitions, guiding girls through their personal faith journey and helping them understand their faith intellectually and spiritually.

While the design of the My Promise, My Faith pin seeks to accommodate girls of all faiths, Girl Scouts’ 100-year partnership with the Catholic Church is one powerful example of how Girl Scouts partners meaningfully with faith-based communities.