Monday, July 1, 2019

Girl Scouts Take on Civic Education to Make Our Country (and the World) a Better Place

Did you know that just one in four Americans is able to name all three branches of government? It’s an alarming statistic, but Girl Scouts—drawing on our 100-plus years of inspiring girls to become engaged citizens—is taking the lead to power the next generation of change-makers.

Last month, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) joined bipartisan congressional leaders for Civics Education: Preparing the Next Generation of Informed and Engaged Citizens, an event focused on the importance of educating and engaging today’s youth in civics. An all-star panel of civic leaders came together at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice in New York City to discuss how out-of-school civics programming—like Girl Scouts—can prepare the next generation to be involved citizens with an in-depth understanding of their government. 

Gold Award Girl Scout Sophia Richardson from the Greater New York council served as master of ceremonies, and Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, Girl Scouts’ National Board president, alongside Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, opened the event. Moderated by Chelsea Clinton of the Clinton Foundation, the panel featured New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Senate Secretary for the Majority Laura Dove, iCivics Director of Education Emma Humphries, and Gold Award Girl Scout Lauren Hoaglund. The speakers emphasized how programs like those offered by Girl Scouts foster a supportive environment that brings lessons of democracy to life for youth and empowers them to enact change while increasing their sense of personal and civic responsibility. 

But the day’s excitement didn’t end there. At the end of the event, GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo announced that new civics education programming will roll out in 2020 for girls in grades K–12 that will deepen their understanding of government and inspire them to be catalysts for the change they want to see in the world. 

“A spirit of patriotism and civic responsibility is infused throughout the Girl Scout experience and has been since our beginnings,” said Sylvia in her closing remarks. “I’m continually inspired by the girls I meet who understand how their government works and are motivated to be active participants and to stand up for issues they care about in their communities, in their states, and nationally.” 

It’s no surprise that 72 percent of current female senators, more than half of the 106 women currently in the House of Representatives, and all female secretaries of state in U.S. history are Girl Scout alums. And through the new civics programming, Girl Scouts ensures that every girl has the tools she needs to stand up for what she believes in and drive positive change.