Thursday, April 26, 2018

From “Cookie Bosses” to Business Trailblazers: The Power of the Girl Scout Cookie Program and Girl Scouts’ Financial Literacy Programming

Guest post by Sylvia Acevedo

Financial Literacy Month is a great opportunity for us to highlight that the Girl Scout Cookie Program, which powers amazing experiences for Girl Scouts year round, is at its core a powerful financial literacy program for girls. Every year during cookie season, millions of cookie customers, eager to indulge their craving for Thin Mints, Samoas/Caramel D’Lites, or S’mores, help girls across the country build their financial skills and become cookie entrepreneurs. When I was a seven-year-old Brownie growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, I decided to become one of those cookie entrepreneurs. And that experience changed my life.

Building my cookie business gave me my first taste of entrepreneurship. I learned how to set goals, create budgets, manage finances, cultivate customers, and make business decisions, and I developed confidence handling money and interacting with numbers. The program enabled me to come out of my shell and be creative, enterprising, and persistent.

I’ll never forget the great advice my troop leader gave me: don’t take “no” for an answer until you hear it three times. To a shy girl who didn’t yet appreciate the strengths and talents she possessed, this advice to not back down in the face of a little pushback was incredibly powerful!

And I carried these skills with me throughout my life. Whether I was working as a rocket scientist or as an executive in the tech industry, I always used numbers, demos, and strong analytics to persuade and make my case.

There’s a reason why so many Girl Scout alums are running the world’s largest businesses and are successful entrepreneurs. Millions of professional women got their start with the Girl Scout Cookie Program, learning everything from profit planning to budget management through the hands-on experience of running their very own cookie businesses. Over half of business leaders who are Girl Scout alums say the program was key to the development of the skills they use today.

At Girl Scouts, we believe that financial literacy is a critical building block for success in life, no matter whether a girl wants to successfully run a business, a corporation, a nonprofit, or a household. I’m so excited about our expanded and enhanced badge offerings, which include 22 Financial Literacy and Cookie Business badges for Brownies through Ambassadors, and 4 Leaves for Daisies. These badges are designed to simulate real-life situations, ensuring girls are poised to budget, save, and spend wisely.

Brownies earning their Money Manager badge, for example, learn the difference between wants and needs, and use “elf money” to practice shopping for groceries, clothes, and school supplies. In the last step, they use their elf money to plan an outing such as a trip to the movies, an outdoor adventure, or a Girl Scout trip. They then have the opportunity to create a real-life budget. Badge activities such as these offer “fun with purpose” and set girls up to be savvy decision makers when it comes to money matters.

According to the 2013 report Having It All: Girls and Financial Literacy, 90 percent of girls say it’s important to learn how to manage money, but only 12 percent feel “very confident” making financial decisions. That finding was proof positive to me that it’s more important than ever to bring girls engaging and effective financial literacy programming that will build their confidence and strengthen their understanding of the financial realm.

At Girl Scouts, we’ve been turning “cookie bosses” into business trailblazers for over a century—and we’re only getting started!

Financial Literacy Badges

  • 22 Badges for Brownie through Ambassador
  • 4 Leaves for Daisies 

Financial Literacy I:

  • Brownie—Money Manager
  • Junior—Business Owner
  • Cadette—Budgeting
  • Senior—Financing My Future
  • Ambassador—On My Own 

Financial Literacy II:

  • Brownie—Philanthropist
  • Junior—Savvy Shopper
  • Cadette—Comparison Shopping
  • Senior—Buying Power
  • Ambassador—Good Credit 

Financial Literacy III:

  • Cadette—Financing My Dreams 

Cookie Business I:

  • Brownie—Meet My Customers
  • Junior—Cookie CEO
  • Cadette—Business Plan
  • Senior—My Portfolio
  • Ambassador—Research & Development 

Cookie Business II:

  • Brownie—Give Back
  • Junior—Customer Insights
  • Cadette—Marketing
  • Senior—Customer Loyalty
  • Ambassador—P&L 

Cookie Business III:

  • Cadette—Think Big 


  • Money Counts
  • Making Choices
  • Count It Up
  • Talk It Up