Monday, March 12, 2012

On Monumental 100th Anniversary, Girl Scouts of the USA Commits to Building Girl Leadership in the Next Century

Girl Scouts of the USA celebrates 100 years of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

A century ago, Juliette Gordon Low assembled 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia, for the first local Girl Scout meeting. She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. With the goal of bringing girls out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air, Girl Scouts hiked, played basketball, went on camping trips, learned how to tell time by the stars, and studied first aid.

Almost immediately, Juliette Gordon Low's dream for a girl-centered organization was realized. Today, Girl Scouts of the USA has a membership of over 3.2 million girls and adults in every residential zip code and in 90 countries. Nearly 60 million living women in the U.S. today are Girl Scout alumnae. From our willingness to address important issues, to our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, Girl Scouts is dedicated to every girl, everywhere.

“Our 100th anniversary is our moment in time to bring the nation together to make a difference in the lives of girls,” said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “Girls represent an incredible resource for our country and Girl Scouts has always provided them a platform for success, and during our centennial we want everyone—men and women alike—to join us in making sure that every girl achieves her full leadership potential.”

What is especially important about the Girl Scouts’ rich history of supporting women’s leadership is their insistence on being a voice for all girls, regardless of their background or neighborhood. Founder Juliette Gordon Low’s first 18 Girl Scouts included girls from influential Savannah families, as well as girls from the Female Orphan Asylum and Congregation Mickve Israel. As early as 1917 the first African-American troops were established, as well as troops for disabled girls. One of the earliest Latina troops was formed in Houston in 1922; Girl Scout troops supported Japanese-American girls in internment camps in the 1940s, and by the 1950s, Girl Scouts was leading the charge to fully integrate all of its troops.

In 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called Girl Scouts “a force for desegregation.”

In a move designed to focus national attention on girls and the issues they face, Girl Scouts of the USA has announced the launch of ToGetHerThere, the largest, boldest advocacy and fundraising cause dedicated to girls' leadership in the nation's history. The multi-year effort will seek to create balanced leadership — the equal representation of women in leadership positions in all sectors and levels of society — within one generation.

Along with this cause, Girl Scouts has launched a $1 billion philanthropic campaign for girls to fuel this effort, and to fund opportunities that enable girls to lead. Ninety percent of funds raised will go directly to services and programs for girls across the nation and in 94 countries globally to help fill critical talent gaps in finance, science, technology and the environmental and global leadership arenas.