On International Women’s Day, it’s Time to ‘Be Bold for Change’

Today is International Women’s Day, when women (and girls!) all around the planet come together to celebrate women’s accomplishments and advocate for a more inclusive, gender-equal world.

This year’s theme is “Be Bold for Change.” Count us in! Girl Scouts always work to change the world for the better!

Each year, International Women’s Day prompts discussions about and next steps for achieving gender parity. It’s a day when everyone can help women and girls achieve their ambitions, challenge bias, call for gender-balanced leadership, value the contributions of women and men equally, and create inclusive cultures. From raising awareness to taking concrete action, International Women’s Day is a global springboard to making the world a better place.

So this year, let’s take the lead like a Girl Scout and tackle some awesome projects that will help us build a better world. Where to start?

International Women’s Day is the perfect day for girls to begin earning their Global Action award (if they haven’t earned it already). Developed in partnership with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS, for short), the Global Action award is an exciting and enriching way for Girl Scouts at every level to work together to make a difference on important issues. Because it’s an official national award, Girl Scouts can wear it just like a badge on the front of their vests or sashes. So awesome!

This year, there’s a special focus on the theme “Increasing Girls’ Access to Education.” In many parts of the world, it’s difficult for girls to go to school and finish their education, whether because of poverty, lack of schools, or cultural factors. We believe every girl deserves the chance to get an education. Let’s be bold—and make it happen!

For inspiration, check out how two troops from Girl Scouts of Orange County explored girls and education and earned their Global Action award in the process.

Junior Troop 3273 members Emma, Ava, Loanne, Kayla, and Madison interviewed women about their experiences in school growing up. Whether interviewing an 80-year-old grandmother or other family friends, the girls were fascinated by how different school was “back in the day,” when school subjects were tailored specifically for boys or girls (shop for boys, homemaking for girls) and girls were not allowed, or not encouraged, to participate in sports. Not surprisingly, the girls were thankful they didn’t grow up in that era!

Girl Scout Juniors Mayanjali, Abigail, Ella, and Leyna from Troop 5300 explored education differences around the world. They interviewed troop leaders Dr. Sangeeta Gupta Bodla and Maura Marbutt, who shared their vastly different experiences attending UCLA. Interestingly, Sangeeta, who was pursuing her Ph.D., was told she “should be at home having kids” instead of getting an education, while Maura, who was studying to be a teacher, did not encounter those obstacles. The girls also discussed rural education in the United States and learned about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. Way to go, girls!

To learn more about how girls can raise awareness about and help solve education disparities worldwide (and earn their Global Action award), check out these guides for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors (PDF) and for Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors (PDF).

How you are you celebrating International Women’s Day? Share your activities or plans on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, using the hashtag #BeBoldForChange and #IWD2017.

Source: On International Women’s Day, it’s Time to ‘Be Bold for Change’

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Girl Scouts!

Here at Girl Scouts, we love Women’s History Month! It’s a time to celebrate the women who struggled for equality, who’ve broken barriers. To remember the women who have made discoveries and put in the hard work to make the world a better place.

This of course brings to mind the fearless and visionary women who appear in history books—women like Amelia Earhart, Madam C.J. Walker, and naturally the great Juliette Gordon Low, who founded Girl Scouts over 100 years ago. Think about it: In 1912, long before American women could vote or attend most Ivy League colleges, Juliette knew girls were natural-born leaders, and dedicated her life to helping as many girls as possible reach their potential. Join us on social media this March as we celebrate those incredible trailblazers alongside many others who’ve carved their own paths in history.

Just as importantly, though, we should be recognizing the drive and dedication of women and girls around us today—and even of ourselves! Before they were leading scientists, military leaders, journalists, athletes, politicians, artists, or writers, so many women were Girl Scouts themselves and celebrated Women’s History Month with their troops—just as you will be for the next few weeks. When you think about that, it’s easy to realize the potential that each and every one of us has to make an impact.

That’s why we’ve created an exciting project to help today’s girls learn and celebrate the history of all the incredible women in their lives—including moms, grandmothers, troop leaders, and Girl Scout volunteers. With our new printable activity, girls get to take on the role of journalist, interviewing the women they admire with exciting questions and jotting down the answers as they go.

Get your printable activity sheet now, and start the fun!

Source: Celebrate Women’s History Month with Girl Scouts!

Let’s Celebrate Girl Scout Week Like a G.I.R.L.

Yay—Girl Scout Week is almost here! Let’s get ready for that special time of year when Girl Scouts of all ages celebrate and show the world what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™.

Let’s make this year’s activities extra special. Here are a few ideas to get you started—one for each day of Girl Scout Week.

Sunday, March 12—Celebrate National Girl Scout Day by reconnecting with the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Learn more about Girl Scout history and our founder, Juliette Gordon Low; you could even hold a Girl Scout birthday party. (We’re 105 this year!) Do something to make the world a better place.

Monday, March 13—Be a go-getter and take action! You might launch a community service project or work toward a Girl Scout award.

Tuesday, March 14—Be an innovator and explore science, technology, engineering, and/or math (STEM)! You could create a fun project through Made with Code, meeting challenges head on and exploring new solutions.

Wednesday, March 15—Be a smart risk-taker and step out of your comfort zone! Get outside to explore and take action to protect our environment. Try a new outdoor activity with family or friends. Sign up for Girl Scout summer camp—or plan a different adventure. It could take place close to home, or around the world!

Thursday, March 16—Be a leader and show people you care! Commit “random acts of kindness” all day long. Be a good friend. Volunteer or donate to charity. Show the world your smile!

Friday, March 17—Get involved civically! Connect with your local (or school) officials and leaders. Learn about Girl Scouts’ legislative agenda. Work toward earning your Global Action award.

Saturday, March 18—Observe Girl Scout Sabbath: the perfect time to honor one’s faith. Attend a religious service. Think about earning your My Promise, My Faith pin. Learn more about faiths different from your own.

But don’t stop there! Learn more about Girl Scout traditions and ceremonies. Or…take the lead like a Girl Scout and come up with some fun and meaningful activities of your own!

And don’t forget to show us how you’re celebrating all week long, by sharing your activities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, using the hashtag #GirlScoutWeek.

Not currently involved with Girl Scouts? Join, volunteer, or donate!

Above all, take the opportunity during Girl Scout Week, and throughout the year, to share your awesome—and show the world how your courage, confidence, and character make the world a better place.

Source: Let’s celebrate Girl Scout Week like a G.I.R.L.

Black History Month: Girl Scouts’ Legacy of Inclusivity

Girl Scout Intermediates in front of the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., 1940. 

Inclusivity is a big part of the Girl Scout DNA. From the very moment founder Juliette Gordon Low first mentioned her plans to start Girl Scouts, it was set to be an organization not only for the girls of Savannah but also for “all of America, and all the world.”

Beginning with that first small troop gathering of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Juliette Low broke the conventions of the time by reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls had a place to grow and develop their leadership skills.

Today, as we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we highlight how Girl Scouts has welcomed African American girls to the Girl Scout Movement throughout our history. Girl Scouts has long been a pioneer in acceptance, a beacon of inclusivity, and a stalwart civic advocate to make sure every girl—regardless of her race, religion, orientation, or socioeconomic background—has the opportunity to thrive.

Our promise of inclusivity was fulfilled early when African American girls became members of the third U.S. troop formed in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1913, according to the March 1952 issue of Ebony magazine.

The first all-African American Girl Scout troops were established as early as 1917. Troops for girls with disabilities formed that same year. 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 after much perseverance, in 1942, Josephine Holloway established one of the South’s first African American troops in Nashville, Tennessee. By the 1950s, Girl Scouts was leading the charge to encourage councils to fully integrate all troops.

Ebony magazine commended Girl Scouts’ inclusivity during GSUSA’s 40th anniversary, noting that in 1951, there were more than 1,500 racially integrated Girl Scout troops and more than 1,800 all-African American troops (mostly located in the South). The magazine cites Girl Scouts as “making slow and steady progress toward surmounting the racial barriers of the region.” As Girl Scouts began a national effort to desegregate troops, the Movement was increasingly recognized as “a force for desegregation,” especially in the South.

As the 1960s dawned, and the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, Girl Scouts launched several major initiatives related to racial and ethnic diversity and made a concerted effort to bridge the gap between the principles of equality and the realities of the organization’s administration, publications, councils, troops, and leadership. In 1969, Girl Scouts launched “Action 70,” a nationwide effort to overcome prejudice and build better relationships among persons of all ages, religions, and races.

Within the Girl Scout ranks, African Americans gained responsibility and increased visibility both locally and nationally. In 1975, Dr. Gloria D. Scott served as the first African American national board president and the public face of Girl Scouts. (Fun fact: During the last year of her presidency in 1978, the Girl Scout Trefoil was reimagined by legendary designer Saul Bass to highlight our Movement’s great diversity.)

The following decades brought continued commitment to issues of diversity and multiculturalism, with the organization continuing outreach into the African American and other minority communities and pledging to promote respect and appreciation for the religious, racial, ethnic, social, and economic diversity of our country.

Today, acceptance, inclusion, and diversity continue to be a top priority for Girl Scouts.

As interim CEO Sylvia Acevedo recently noted, “We stand for inclusivity. We stand for unity, patriotism, and a commitment to the country we all share. We stand for the skills and resources that girls need to discover their talents and gain the courage, confidence, and character they need to be leaders.”

So, let’s take a moment to reflect on our Movement’s accomplishments in the area of inclusivity. Then, let’s redouble our efforts to fulfill Juliette Gordon Low’s vision that Girl Scouts is—and will continue to be—a safe, welcoming place for ALL girls.

Source: Black History Month: Girl Scouts’ Legacy of Inclusivity

Girl Scout Volunteers, We Love You!

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That’s right—we’re talking to you, our extraordinary volunteers, who tirelessly give of their hearts and time to help us unleash the leader in every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™. This Valentine’s Day, we want you to know that we see you, we appreciate you, and yes—we love you! We know we don’t say it nearly enough, but we didn’t want today to go by without letting you know how we truly feel.
Valentine’s Day is about friendship, and that’s what you provide. It’s about community, and that’s what you build. It’s about sharing your heart, and that’s exactly what you do—without limits and without hesitation. You’re the real MVP!
So when you’re tired and running around coordinating meetings and events galore, and losing a little steam, we want you to remember this: every day as a Girl Scout volunteer, you power life-changing adventure, opportunity-rich learning, and powerful growth for girls who will become the leaders and happy, healthy, problem-solvin’, barrier-breakin’ change-makers our world needs.
And while they’re having the time of their lives making forever friends and trying new things, they’re learning that anything is possible. Their confidence is rising, and they’re breaking through fear. They’re raising their hands, sharing ideas, and believing in their own inherent power right from the start, all because you show them every day that’s it’s there. By walking beside them, letting them lead, and supporting them unconditionally, you’re not only talking the talk—you’re walking the walk. And what a walk it is!
Don’t ever let anyone suggest that being a Girl Scout volunteer is no big thing. It takes grit, creativity, leadership, vision, and so much heart. We’d be nothing without you, and we want to thank you, from the bottom of our green, green hearts, for showing girls that the world is theirs to take on. Between the power of your guidance and our proven Girl Scout Leadership Experience, there’s no challenge our girls can’t overcome, no goal they can’t reach.
So today, we celebrate you and the priceless love you give girls every day through your unwavering dedication to their success. The future is bright, and you’re lighting the way!
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.
And just for good measure, we’ll say it once more: WE LOVE YOU! 

Source: Girl Scout Volunteers, We Love You!

A Message From Sylvia Acevedo: A Commitment to Inclusivity is Part of our DNA

Guest blog by Sylvia Acevedo, Interim CEO

At Girl Scouts of the USA, a commitment to inclusivity is part of our DNA. Founded by a daring and courageous woman who wasn’t afraid to break the mold, Juliette Gordon Low plainly stated that Girl Scouts was to be a Movement “for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world.”

For more than 100 years, we have lived up to these words and carried forward the legacy of openness, inclusion, and unity that Juliette Low handed down to us. We have actively embraced all girls and are reflective of American society. Through turbulent and troubled times, through wars and economic depressions, and through periods of peace and prosperity, we have always served girls in every walk of life, without regard to their race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, economic standing, orientation, country of birth, or family history.

Girl Scouts has truly been, and will always be, a Movement for ALL girls—a place where girls can, must, and will feel safe to explore their potential, learn new skills, make lifelong friends, and tap into their potential for the leadership that our world so desperately needs. In today’s environment, some of our girls may be experiencing certain pressures and anxieties; they may feel unsure, confused, or even threatened.

So let me be perfectly clear: Girl Scouts of the USA is here for them. Our role is to support and encourage every girl, not insert ourselves into her spirituality, question her birthplace or family’s country of origin, or concern ourselves with her economic status. We’re not interested in her family’s political beliefs. No matter who she is, she has a home and a safe place at Girl Scouts. What matters is that she is a girl living in our community; a girl with hopes and dreams, ideals, and ambitions that we seek to nurture. Girl Scouts is about the girl she is and the woman and leader she has the potential to become. In today’s hyper-partisan, super-charged world, it’s easy to lose sight of what we stand for as Girl Scouts and what we exist to do.

We stand for inclusivity. We stand for unity, patriotism, and a commitment to the country we all share. We stand for the skills and resources that girls need to discover their talents and gain the courage, confidence, and character they need to be leaders. We stand for being honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, and courageous and strong. We stand for sisterhood. And we stand for making the world a better place, one girl at a time.

Girl Scouts continues to be a home for girls from all walks of life. The world can be frightening and confusing. We continually rededicate ourselves to the values of our promise and law and work day in and day out to make sure every girl feels included and welcome. We are aligned to make our world a reflection of Juliette Gordon Low’s dream from so long ago—one where we come together, celebrate our common bonds, champion our unique heritage and shared history, and make the world a better place.

Source: A Message From Sylvia Acevedo: A Commitment to Inclusivity is Part of our DNA

Ask a Girl Scout: Mandi K.

by Cathy Brown, guest blogger

Mandi K. is one of the GSGCF Shop’s newest Junior Sales Specialists (JSS). While she lives in Lee County, she has become an integral part of our traveling shop team and participates in many shop functions held at council headquarters. During our traveling shop this past November, I was able to spend time with Mandi and ask her about her experiences as a Girl Scout.

I was impressed by her responses and her sense of humor. She was very shy at the beginning of her JSS training, but by the end, she was right in the thick of things. When I asked why she liked being a Girl Scout, she responded, “I like being a Girl Scout because there are a lot of opportunities for girls, like me, to be heard and find a place to be welcomed for who I am.”

When asked how Girl Scouting has impacted her life she was quick to reply: “I have always been really shy around people. I think it is because I like to hang back and watch instead of being right in the middle of things… until I’m comfortable. But, in Girl Scouts, the girls and leaders will actually wait for me to BE comfortable.”

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Mandi with her Girl Scout sisters, Troop 673.

“That doesn’t happen in other groups or activities I’ve been involved in,” she continued. “A lot of times people expect me to feel or be a certain way. But Girl Scouts has actually let me be me. That makes it easier to open up and try new things on my own. Girl Scouts has given me that.”

Hands down, Mandi’s favorite thing she has done as a Girl Scout is lead as a Counselor in Training (CIT) during the Cadette Leadership Weekend. “I wanted to be a CIT since meeting Ms. Gina [Sauer]. It felt great, going through the program to learn how and then actually doing it! I was a little afraid that the girls in my group wouldn’t listen, but they were great!”

Some of Mandi’s many accolades are in part the result of her involvement in a variety of extracurricular, community, faith-based, and Girl Scout activities.  She feels “really lucky to be involved with different groups and learn different things.” “I am active in my church and youth group, school, animals, and community causes as well as being in Girl Scouts,” Mandi said.

“In 4th grade, I became a full-time home school student. This has given me so many opportunities! I was accepted into Disney/Pixar’s program for arts and development. I have [increased my] global awareness through a group called Girl Rising, furthering education for girls around the world. I have also been able to take classes from several universities around the country through edX.”

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Mandi with her proud mom, Tracylee.

“I created and have run my own not-for-profit charity #MandisBackpack that provides different items (based on time of the year) to those in need throughout the country…for right around four years now.” This includes back-to-school items in the late summer/early fall, pantry donations to food banks in late fall/early winter, toys during the holidays as well as care packages to our service men and women serving our country overseas, and shoes in the spring. The program operates on a voluntary basis with donations from the community.

“I also branched out to add #MandisBookbag to donate books to children that are in the hospital that could use a ‘staycation’ through reading a book,” said Mandi. “Taking both #MandisBackpack and #MandisBookbag to social media has made it possible for those across the country to get involved! You can find my CEO page on Facebook and Twitter.”

But Mandi hasn’t stopped there. “I have also been able to give back to my community by joining the Junior League to donate my time. I make ‘bags of hope’ to give to our homeless population. They contain anything from a toothbrush/toothpaste to a voucher for a free meal. I remain involved with our local animal shelters as well. I want to be a large cat vet in South Africa. I’m always looking for activities that get me closer to animals. I have been invited to submit my application to become a MobSTIR for the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and am biting my nails to see if I’ll be accepted. If so, Africa may not be too far off!”

Mandi has earned a number of formal Girl Scout recognitions. “Over the course of my Girl Scout years, I’ve completed both my Bronze and Silver Award; earned [my] PA pin, CIT II pin, Cadette Safety Cross, Cadette service bars, Silver Torch Award, and Summit Award; [and received] numerous accolades for cookie sales and magazine/fall fundraisers.”

Mandi firmly believes Girl Scouts prepares girl leaders. “I belong to a handful of groups that encourage girls to be leaders. But, Girl Scouts gives girls tools to help make them successful and become leaders. I also think Girl Scouts encourages girls to break through stereotypes.”

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Mandi knows that Girl Scouts is about more than just cookies and camping.

Mandi would definitely recommend Girl Scouts to other girls. “It is harder when girls are older. But, I’m the first one to say ‘So, yeah, I sell cookies. And I go camping. But I also learn how to kayak, paddle board, zip line, rock climb, do marathons, prepare business Powerpoint presentations, and a ton of other stuff.’”

Mandi has accomplished so much, and she is quick to remind me that she is only thirteen. I am amazed!  Mandi is “so looking forward to the future,” and based on all she has accomplished, truly the sky is the limit for her.

~Cathy Brown is the Shop Manager for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.