Giving Challenge 2016:​ Will You “Be the One?”

Fall is perhaps our favorite time of year at Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. School is back in session, new Girl Scout troops are forming, continuing troops reunite after the summer break, and the annual Giving Challenge kicks off.

What is the Giving Challenge? During a 24-hour period from noon – noon Sept. 20 – 21, donations up to $100 made to Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida through the Giving Challenge website may be doubled, or even tripled, thanks to the generous support of The Patterson Foundation. That means, if you donated to Girl Scouts during the 2015 Giving Challenge, your 2016 gift of $25 – $100 will be matched 1:1. If you didn’t donate to us during the 2015 Giving Challenge, your gift of $25 – $100 this year will be matched 2:1. How else can your triple your investment with the click of a button?

When you think about, the Giving “Challenge” is a relatively easy one. On the other hand, girls face difficult challenges every day. They must navigate a world filled with negative peer pressure and mixed messages about what it means to be a girl and where their place is in society. Through Girl Scouting, girls learn that their place is anywhere they want it to be: in the home, at the office, in the lab, at the drafting table, in uniform… the possibilities are endless. As a donor, YOU make this possible! Thank you!

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Last year, dollars raised through the Giving Challenge helped support girls in a variety of STEAM-related programs and outdoor activities across our council. (STEAM refers to activities related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, and Math). From one-day events to week-long day camps, girls had the opportunity to explore the world of STEAM, as a fun topic of study today and potential career path in the future. In addition, outdoor education activities helped girls gain physical strength and confidence while building an appreciation for the environment and an understanding of their role in protecting it. As a 2015 donor, YOU made this possible! Thank you!


This year, we will focus funds on helping girls take on leadership roles in their schools and communities. Whether they serve as media representatives for the council through the Media Marvels program, work together in groups on community service projects to earn the Girl Scout Bronze or Silver Award, or spearhead a more comprehensive, sustainable take-action project for the prestigious Gold Award, we will be here to support them every step of the way. As a 2016 donor, YOU will Be the One who makes this possible! Thank you!

Girl Scouting is for EVERY girl. No girl is ever turned away, regardless of her family’s financial situation. We are proud to offer need-based scholarships to cover registration and program fees. The more funding we receive from the community, the more girls we can serve across our entire ten-county service area.

For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts have been facing challenges head-on with courage, confidence, and character. Now it’s your turn. Will you Be the One who: encourages her to reach new heights?  Feeds her ambition?  Shows her there are no limits? Piques her interest in science, technology, engineering, and math? Shows her that she matters? Helps her change the world? Please considering making a personally meaningful gift to Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida during the 24-hour Giving Challenge, Sept. 20 – 21. Click here to get started. And again, thank you!

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The 2016 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.





Troop 257 Vows to “Stand Beside Her”

IMG_2704Several months ago, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida joined the national Stand Beside Her movement. It is a call to action for women and girls to band together and support each other, end comparison and competition, and create more collaboration. The year-round initiative was created by Girl Scouts Heart of the South, and is recognized by Girl Scout councils and other groups and organizations across the country.

Troop 257 from Sarasota took a particular interest in Stand Beside Her, and decided to take action. “Our troop is interested in community involvement and making a difference in the world,” said troop leader Jeanne Koren. Some of the girls in her troop had noticed a difference since starting middle school in the way they feel about themselves. This directly affects self-esteem, and can have a negative impact on a girl’s ability to reach her full potential. “When we looked at the [statistics] online about this it was surprising to us,” she explained.

The troop decided to kick off their own campaign with a “Chalk It Up to Being a Girl” Encouragement Project, one of several suggestions offered on the Stand Beside Her website. The concept is simple, but powerful: girls use chalk to draw outlines of their feet on a publicly visible sidewalk, and then write messages of encouragement next to them.

IMG_2703 cropThe girls drew a lot of attention during the project, which they completed at United Church of Christ Sarasota. “One man told us how he stood beside his two daughters (now grown) when their science teacher told them that girls just don’t do as well as boys in science,” Koren explained. Sadly, his daughters’ science teacher was herself a woman. Other onlookers were equally moved. “An older woman had tears in her eyes and was speechless when we told her what we were doing.”

But Troop 257 isn’t stopping there. They are also planning to meet with two school principals to have “Chalk It Ups” at their schools and girl-led awareness speeches at faculty meetings. “And,” said Koren, “we have ideas for much more!”

The troop is challenging others in the Gulfcoast Florida council to organize at least one Stand Beside Her-themed activity or event over the course of this school year. Their suggestions include:

  • Asking permission to bring in Stand Beside Her posters and post cards to hang up or distribute at your school, or asking to speak at an upcoming faculty meeting about ways in which teachers can help raise girls’ self-esteem
  • Arranging a “Chalk It Up” event at your school, church, or other organization you belong to (be sure to get the property owner’s permission first)IMG_2701 crop
  • Asking local dance studios, gymnastics centers, YMCAs, etc. to hang Stand Beside Her posters in the locker rooms where girls and women can see them
  • Asking school counselors to prepare a talk or panel presentation on ways that parents and other adults can “Stand Beside Her” and help every girl reach her potential
  • Challenging adults (including troop leaders) to do a “stand-up selfie” once a day — look in the mirror and say something to boost the confidence of that 13-year-old girl who’s still inside you
  • Starting a Stand Beside Her blog on your troop’s web page

Will you accept Troop 257’s challenge? How will you and your troop “Stand Beside Her?” Email your stories and photos to

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

Rebecca of Sarasota Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Self-Esteem~ An Outdoor Adventure

 See the Video Interview here:

[4539]headshotRebecca is a Senior at Sarasota High School and has been in Girl Scouts since she was a Daisy. She just won first place in environmental science at the state science fair.

As a Girl Scout, Rebecca has a great perspective of the opportunities afforded through camp environmental activities and the positive self-worth developed. Her project aims to provide mentorship and insight to girls in underserved lower socio-economic communities.  Rebecca created an outdoor adventure program for middle school girls participating in Girl Scouting through community supported troops.  Encompassing activities most girls participating have not had an opportunity to experience such as kayaking, rock climbing, orienteering, and camping, these young women are developing courage, confidence and character. Traits that will improve their self-esteem and their participation in positive actions in the community. Rebecca states, “by showing girls to do what they never thought capable, they gained belief in their ability to succeed which can be translated to all aspects of their lives.”

“Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are our future workforce, elected officials, and heads of civic and educational organizations. They are inspiring new generations of girls and families”, shares Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements. Congratulations Rebecca!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award: