Girls For A Change began as an idea in Santa Clara County, CA in 2000 with a group of energized volunteers, one staff member, $100,000 and 10 Girl Action Teams. As of 2008, we have a staff of 13, three national sites, a $1 million budget and over 100 Girl Action Teams. Our accomplishments include:
First Annual Girl Summit
The Girls For A Change October 2002 Girl Summit in was one of the most powerful events of our time. The 1,100 young women and 500 adult women present made a powerful statement about the possibility of what girls and women can create.
The Opening Ceremonies were led by Girls For a Change Girl Steering Committee hosts Jennifer Ha and Denisse Herrera. Keynote speaker Bertice Berry, PhD delivered a moving address followed by a Soul Force performance about girls finding their voice. Girls then attended 3 workshops each, selected from over 30 available sessions. Workshop sessions included: Using Poetry to Speak Back, Dating Violence & Self-Defense, Spiritual Activism, Fundraising for Social Justice, Fat and Body Advocacy, and a Teen Mom panel. At the end of the day, girls and coaches gathered in neighborhood-based teams for the first time to discuss what they learned and talk about possibilities for their social change project. GFC held four more Girl Summits in Silicon Valley reaching more than 6,500 girls before taking the Summits on the road in 2008.
Silicon Valley Expansion
Girls For A Change expanded its work beyond Santa Clara County for the 2004 Girl Summit, establishing Girl Action Teams in Oakland, Santa Cruz and East Palo Alto.
Girls For A Change was awarded a three-year $300,000 replication grant by the Draper Richards Foundation in July 2003. The grant supported expanding program activities and launching national replication through July 2005. GFC launched its first programming outside of Silicon Valley with a new site in Phoenix, Arizona in spring 2006. In the fall of 2006, the Phoenix site already had more than 20 Girl Action Teams.
In 2008, GFC launched its National Tour bringing Change Your World Trainings to more than 2,500 girls throughout the country. The tour also included the launch of Girl Action Teams across the country, including expansion in Richmond, VA. GFC also started its online GFC Action Network to connect social change makers throughout the country.
GFC 2008-09: 100 Girl Action Teams!
We are proud to announce that 2008-09 was GFC's biggest year ever - with more girls and Girl Action Teams implementing social change in more places than ever before - over 100 Girl Action Teams created projects!
After our National Tour in fall 2008, which resulted in training 2,300 girls as change agents over 26 days, GFC launched a new site in Richmond, VA. Outside of Richmond, teams that were added nationally included schools in New York City, Philadelphia and Toledo. In addition, GFC reached girls in 6 different countries this year through our partnerships with Soccer Without Borders and Girls Helping Girls.
Check out the amazing social change projects created by girls throughout the country here!
GFC CEO Whitney Smith honored at Lanterns Awards
In 2009, Whitney Smith, CEO of GFC, was honored at the 9th Annual Lanterns Awards Luncheon alongside Laila Ali, for her commitment to empowering young women. The ceremony took place in Los Angeles, and was put on by the Black Women Lawyers Association, the Latina Lawyers Bar Association, and the WLALA Foundation. Whitney joins the list of well-known former honorees including Tyra Banks, Marian Wright Edelman, Lisa Fernandez, Christy Haubegger, Dr. Mae C. Jemison, Myrtle S. Potter, Rosalind Wiseman, Oral Lee Brown, Faye Washington, Dolores Robinson, Molly Barker, and Erin Gruwell. Read the event press release here.
GFC's America Learns Superstars!
In fall 2008, GFC started a new partnership with America Learns, the premier performance measurement and learning firm in the education and grantmaking sectors. The web based service was used this year by GFC Coaches from 100 Girl Action Teams in Silicon Valley, Phoenix, Richmond, New York City, Philadelphia and Toledo. Coaches reported out data on their team meetings that ranged from the number of girls who attended meetings to the current status of the social change project the girls were creating.
The America Learns partnership has been a valuable tool for GFC staff and coaches. One of the most popular services provided by the America Learns network is the sharing of best practices from volunteers and youth workers. Volunteers report in America Learns best practices they have created and implemented to overcome challenges they encounter. For the second time this year, GFC is proud to announce that a strategy from a GFC Girl Action Team has been selected as the Strategy of the Month! Meghan Arrigo, our Western Region Program Director, was also selected as an America Learns Staff Superstar in April.
Check out GFC's America Learns Network Superstars:
May 2009: Brandy Peterson and Lianna Woods are GFC Coaches in our Richmond site. They were honored this month for their fortune cookie strategy they used to encourage the girls on their Girl Action Team at Albert Hill Middle School. See the strategy here.
April 2009: Meghan Arrigo's interview with America Learns about how the network has been useful for GFC can be heard here.
January 2009: See Crystal C.'s "Burrito Hug" strategy here. Crystal is a member of the Girl Steering Committee in Silicon Valley and has participated in GFC Girl Action Teams at San Jose High Academy for two years. Her strategy was submitted by her coach.
In 2007, GFC was awarded a growth capital grant from New Profit Inc., a national venture philanthropy fund. Since 1998, New Profit has worked to help social entrepreneurs meet the challenge of building their organizations to scale their social impact. Through its venture philanthropy fund, New Profit provides multi-year financial and strategic support from individual investors and its signature partner, Monitor Group, to extraordinary social sector leaders whose organizations have the potential to create broad-scale change in the United States.
NPR's etown award
Whitney Smith, GFC Founder and CEO, was awarded an e-chievement award by the NPR show, etown, for her role in founding GFC. The show recognizes "people around the country who've found positive solutions to challenges in their communities." You go Whitney! The show aired the week of 8/22/06.
GFC Goes to Harvard
GFC CEO Whitney Smith and former GFC Co-CEO Niko Everett were given an amazing opportunity in summer 2007 to attend the Harvard Business School's Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management with a generous scholarship from the Bay Area Harvard MBA Alumni group. The program welcomed 100 non-profit leaders from around the world to work with the HBS faculty to examine their missions and rethink our approaches for implementation and replication.
"The HBS professors were truly the finest 'teachers' we have ever experienced," Niko said. "We challenged our own mission, vision, evaluation, and strategy. We pushed our own thought process further then we have ever had the time or support to before" The outcome? "Of course, the learning is integrated into our daily actions but we actually flew an Executive Director candidate out to our dorms in Harvard after a particularly stimulating session on attitude versus aptitude and have since brought her on as our shining new star in Phoenix! We imagine the impact to continue to reveal itself and in the meantime, we will miss dorm life and all-nighters."