Friday, March 15, 2019

How One Troop Took (Money) Matters into Its Own Hands

Being a Girl Scout isn’t just fun—it also opens doors for girls to make their biggest, brightest dreams come true. One important life skill that all girls learn through Girl Scouting is solid money smarts. Because the financial literacy skills learned while running a Girl Scout Cookie booth will eventually help girls save up for a new car; negotiate their salary; launch their own business; or, like Troop 476 from Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM), give back to their community and teach other girls about financial empowerment.

To earn their Girl Scout Silver Award, Troop 476 developed an Empowerment Symposium for local girls in middle and high school. The troop’s goal was to help girls feel financially empowered and provide them with much-needed resources to achieve their dreams of going to college—and to bring their community together. So that’s exactly what these go-getters did!

In their proposal, the girls explained, “One of the goals [of the Empowerment Symposium] is to provide resources for the young ladies in this underserved community that will empower them to be financially prepared for college. In addition, we would provide leaders who can teach the girls how to budget their money, how to save, how to spend their money wisely, and possibly even steer them in careers where they can help the community that they live in.”

After the symposium, their council’s membership specialist asked the troop to consider submitting a proposal to GSCM for possible funding to repeat the project later in the year. With hopes to make it an annual conference, the troop worked with staff members from GSCM to apply for a grant from Toyota Financial Services. The end result? Troop 476 received the grant to fund their second Empowerment Symposium. Over 166 people attended, including prominent female entrepreneurs, bloggers, and self-esteem coaches—so inspirational!

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), “girls are optimistic about their future lives but admit to lacking the financial confidence and knowledge to achieve their dreams.” The Empowerment Symposium grew girls’ confidence and connections to one another. Troop leader Kelly said it best: “the symposium is a result of the girls’ research and planning to find a need in the community and how they can help address it. They realized that girls their age struggle with many issues, including lack of self-confidence and confusion as to what route they should take for their future careers.”

Learning by doing and empowering by doing—it’s the Girl Scout way! If you feel inspired by the incredible story of Troop 476 and its goal to make the world a better place by financially empowering more girls, download and use the activities from the TFS “Driving My Financial Future” Tip Sheet while earning Financial Literacy badges. Or if you’re a parent or a troop leader, learn more about financial literacy tips for adults.

“You are the root of your financial success or failure. If you work on the roots, the fruits will grow and take care of themselves.”

Learn more about our partnership with Toyota Financial Services:

Through this multiyear partnership worth over $3.3 million, more than 40,000 4th- through 12th-grade girls in underserved communities across the United States will take part in "Driving My Financial Future," a TFS initiative that teaches girls how to become financially savvy leaders; obtain real-life, age-appropriate financial skills; and gain the tools necessary to make a positive influence in their communities.

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute study Having It All: Girls and Financial Literacy (PDF), nine out of ten girls say it's important for them to learn how to manage money, and 88 percent think it's important to set financial goals. However, only a handful of girls surveyed (12 percent) feel confident making financial decisions.

Thanks to the TFS partnership, select grant councils are provided with grant funding for their participation in the “Driving My Financial Future" program, which helps bridge the divide between many girls’ and their families’ current economic health, as well as girls’ dreams of being financially independent. Through this important program, girls become financially confident and empowered as a means of pursuing their dreams.