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About Us


Girls For A Change is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change. We invite young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

GFC provides the tools, resources, partnerships and support girls need to gain the voice, ability, and problem-solving capacity to realize their full potential. We welcome and serve all girls and focus our efforts on girls who live in low income communities.

Today, in cities across the country, Girl Action Teams of approximately 10 girls and two women volunteers called GFC Coaches meet during the school year to identify an issue they want to change and then design and implement a social change project. Imagine the possibilities if every year thousands of middle school and high school girls learn how to tackle community problems! Picture the huge number of powerful women leaders driving local communities and the world toward success and well-being.

Our mission:

  • Empower girls to be social change makers by providing the tools, resources and support girls need to move from being spectators to being change makers.
  • Catalyze professional women to support urban middle and high school girls to become social change makers and innovators, by training the women as social change makers and activists.

How we accomplish this mission:

  1. CHANGE YOUR WORLD TRAININGS: Starting in 2008, GFC took its annual Girl Summit, a day long conference on the road. Each year 2,500+ girls and 400 women are given the tools to create change in their community through our Change Your World Trainings. The trainings also include teaching girls what social change is and showing girls examples of a diverse group of social change makers.
  2. GIRL ACTION TEAMS: Thousands of girls have the opportunity to participate in community teams. The girls identify challenges in their communities and design and implement creative solutions to address them as a team. Each team has two women coaches to guide and support the girls through the project. This is a free after school program.
  3. NEW GIRLS NETWORK”: GFC connects girls to a network of professional women and legislators who help them build their own web of contacts and mentors. This network aims to help girls accomplish their GFC project as well as their personal goals. It also builds a bridge to the rich opportunities of local communities, as many GFC girls live in lower income areas.
  4. GFC ACTION NETWORK: Thousands of girls connect online to share their world changing ideas, collaborate on projects and download GFC’s Change Your World Action Kit to begin transforming their communities using this “how-to” social change guide.

How GFC benefits girls:
In completing the GFC program, girls will gain an increase in four areas:

  • Self-efficacy (belief in one’s personal power to produce an effect)
  • Authentic relationships with women volunteers, called coaches
  • Social Change skills (critical thinking, problem solving, resource development, and networking)
  • The ability and confidence to express and implement their ideas

CORE VALUES: GFC uses its core values in decision making and daily operations. Volunteers of the organization are also trained to use the core values when representing GFC. GFC is a social change organization that supports girls in fully developing their voice, ability, and problem solving capacity to realize their full potential.

  • GFC values girls as a powerful and unique resource for creating social change.
  • GFC values the process of creating social change.
  • GFC values being intentionally innovative, risk taking and visionary to make broad and lasting impact.
  • GFC values people being in a place of self-fullness* in order to create change. People are the organization’s most valuable asset.
  • GFC values direct and honest communication to ensure authenticity in the creation of social change
  • GFC values the diversity of all women and girls and believes diverse and unlikely relationships are personally transformative and key elements to creating social change.

*Self fullness is defined at GFC as a balance of personal health, personal growth, and self-care.

HISTORY: GFC was founded in San Jose, California in 2002 and has since doubled the number of girls served. We expanded to the Phoenix Metro Area in 2005 (see Communities). In 2008, GFC took its annual Girl Summit on the road for our National Tour. The tour included teaching more than 2,500 girls about social change and giving them the tools to create change through our Change Your World Trainings. Girls For A Change began empowering girls in 2000. Without the support and dedication of the following individuals and partner organizations GFC would not have been possible:

Founding Steering Committee Members:
Niko Everett, (formerly Clifford) Founding CEO and Current Board Member
Whitney Smith, Founder and current CEO

Lora Barnett
Mariah Dabel*
Nancy Fox
Michelle McCormick
Caroline Ocampo
Jo Seavey-Holtquist
Sari Wisch
Sharon Wood
*Mariah Dabel, Founding Board Member, named Girls For A Change.

Lead Partners:
Girl Scouts of Santa Clara County
The Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Advocacy
Partner and Founding Organizations:
Girl Scouts of Santa Clara County
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
The County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Advocacy
The County of Santa Clara Dept. of Public Health - Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Network
Women’s Technology Cluster- Nonprofit Incubator


Summit 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.

National Expansion
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

LanternPic 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.

In the News

Powerbrokers_2Among the "strategies and resources to counter negative influences on today's young females...girl empowerment groups such as Girls For A Change often emphasize health and competence."
-The Washington Post

"They have enormous potential."
-Fast Company

"Girls For A Change residuals are far-reaching."
-The San Jose Mercury News

"Girls For A Change is not just about inspiring girls to make a change. It's about letting girls know that they are a worthy investment across the board. It's about, simply, asking girls what they think and actually listening."
-The Huffington Post 

Girls For A Change CEO Whitney Smith is available to speak about GFC as an expert on teen girl culture, social change, youth advocacy, women and girls in leadership, girls and self-esteem, the latest research and studies focused on girls, and other related topics. In addition, GFC SpokesGIRLS are available to speak about any of the topics or issues addressed by Girl Action Teams.To arrange an interview with Whitney Smith or SpokesGIRLS, please contact Annie Yaniga at [email protected].


GFC allies honored at the YWCA Tribute to Women's Luncheon
2010 Tribute to Women Honorees

GFC mentioned by Arizona Legistalor at Duke University discussion
The Chronicle, February 2010

Pinesol and TNT Collaboration

Richmond Girl Action Team Member Featured in Richmond Edition of Skirt Magazine!
Skirt Magazine, June 2009

Two GFC coaches in Virginia use fortune cookies to recognize girls' progress
America Learns, May 2009

Carl Hayden High School, Phoenix, raises awareness about prejudice and raciscm
March 11, 2009

Hayward Team takes action against child abuse
March 11, 2009

GFC Mention on Girl World Daily Website
BEINGGIRL Presents Girl World Daily, A World Of Difference

10th Grader, Crystal Carmona, Hugs Her Way To An Award
PRWeb, January 15, 2009

Silicon Valley Girl Action Team Member, Crystal Carmona, Named America Learn's January 2009 “So Long” Superstar America Learns Network Superstars
Network Super Stars by America Learns, January 12, 2009 

GFC Mentioned in January's Issue of Skirt Magazine
Skirt Magazine, January 2009

GFC's National Development Director, Eleanor Rouse is interviewed on Virginia This Morning
CBS 6 WTVR.com, Virginia This Morning, January 9, 2009

GFC Phoenix Acknowledged in Arizona Foothills Magazine
Arizona Foothills Magazine, Jauary, 2009

The Sephora Project Change Purse: A Do-Good Goodie!
Self Magazine, December, 2008 

 The Sephora Project Change Purse Featured in Ladies Home Journal Gift Guide
Ladies Home Journal, December, 2008

Miss Maryland America's Touch of Class Makes GFC Her Platform

During hard financial times the spirit of giving is still strong 
The Palm Beach Post, November 26, 2008 

GFC National Tour visits schools in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond Publc Schools

GFC Nationl Tour Stop at Calverton Middle School in West Baltimore
The Baltimore Times, October 20, 2008

The Sephora Project "Change Purse" featured in Washington Parent
Washington Parent, October 2008

GFC's National Program Director, Carrie Ellett, Interviewed by The Green Rapper
The Green Rapper, Episode 13, October 8, 2008

The Sephora Project TOTE-ALLY GORGEOUS tote: A "do good" indulgence!
In Style Magazine, September 2008

Sephora and Marie Claire: Kicking off the Sephora Project
Cosmetic World, September 2008

National Tour Stop at Pajaro Valley High School
The Register-Pajaronian, September 26, 2008

Girls For A Change Goes Hollywood: The Sephora Project
Voce Nation, September 10, 2008

Rena Stone of GFC Featured As Teen Hero On Elle Girl's Online Magazine
Elle Girl Magazine, August 2008

Soccer Without Borders partners with Girls For A Change to run GFC program in Kampala, Uganda
Soccer Without Borders Summer Newsletter 2008

Aline Sibomana named Activist of the Month on Teen Voices Online
Teen Voices, Vol. 23 July 2008

Real Girl vs. Real World
Mothering, May-June, 2008

Teen CEOs network, impress
San Jose Mercury News, May 13, 2008

Speaking Out About Girl Fights
FOX, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, May 2, 2008

Chung: Peace, one girl at a time
San Jose Mercury News, March 8, 2008

DIY Liberation: A Handy How-To Guide
YES! magazine, Issue 44, 2008

Niko Everett on Women Who Win
Podcast Show, December 2007

Hutchison: Girls hear a compelling challenge for change
San Jose Mercury News, November 6, 2007

Build Up Your Teen's Self-Esteem
ABC's View From The Bay, November 6, 2007

Teen Girls Meet In SJ Leadership Summit
CBS 5, October 30, 2007

Girls For A Change 'Speak Up!'
Women's Radio, October 22, 2007

Press Release, October 23, 2007 

Girls Doing Good
San Jose Magazine, September 2007

Virgin Mobile's The RE*Generation Kicks Off "National Homeless Youth Awareness Month" at the 5th Annual Girl Summit with Powerful Keynote Speaker, Carissa Phelps
Press Release, September 18, 2007

GFC Showcased at 2007 Ypulse Mashup
July 15-16, 2007 

This Summer Teen Girls Go Corporate for a Change
Press Release, Juniper Networks, Inc., June 26, 2007

Girls For A Change

The Huffington Post, May 23, 2007

Goodbye To Girlhood (page 1) |Girl Power: Accentuate the Positive (page 2)
The Washington Post, February 20, 2007

Girls Just Want to Have Change
San Jose Business Journal, February 9, 2007

Coach, Mentor, Mold...
blogizona, February 7, 2007

Girls For A Change Kicks Off New Year with Nearly $1 Million in Grant Funding
Press Release, February 6, 2007

Tech Credit Union features GFC in their new video
KRON 4 Best of The Bay Television, February 1, 2007

Girl power for change
Arizona Republic, January 20, 2007

Teen girls learn skills to change their lives
The Arizona Republic, January 7, 2007

Young local Latinas team up to create big social change
Latino Perspectives Magazine, January 2007

Girls Summit
Respect RX Blog, October 13, 2006

Girls meet to make a change
Palo Alto Daily News, October 13, 2006

GFC Summit Features NY Times Bestselling Author As Keynote
Press Release, September 28, 2006

GFC Launches Program to Transform the Lives of Low Income Girls in Maricopa County
East Valley Tribune.com, August 27, 2006

Girls For A Change Phoenix Welcomes New Executive Director
Press Release, August 25, 2006

Etown Echievement Award
Etown, June 2006

Supporting Girls For A Change
Money Savvy, Spring 2006

Girls For A Change
RespectRx.com, April 11, 2006

Social Capital Awards Finalist 2006
Fast Company, January 2006

GFC Member Named Woman of Distinction Honoree  
AsianWeek.com, August 25, 2006

Helping Young Girls Adjust To High School
The Argus, August 21, 2006

Group: No more "girly" insults
Mercury News, June 2, 2006

Active Voice Blog
June 2006

Eaton Eagle Newsletter, May 2006

Girls For A Change
Voce Communication Blog, April 2006

Girls Become Citizen Philanthropists to Improve Lives of Students
Bay Area Business Woman, June 1, 2006

Rescue Operation for Girls
Arizonawoman, November 2005

Arizona Launch Reception
Frontdoors, October 2005

Why Non-Profits Should Blog
Voce Communication, August 25, 2005

Teens Studying Dating Violence: Programs Aim to Educate Students, Parents
Mountain View Voice, Friday, May 20, 2005

Students Pick Teachers for Grant Awards
San Jose Mercury News, Thursday, May 5, 2005

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
Evergreen Times, Friday, February 11, 2005

The Power of One
San Jose Mercury News, Sunday, January 5, 2005

The Change Masters
Fast Company, January 2005

Enthusiastic Voice Added to Voter Registration Drive
San Jose Mercury News, Friday, October 15, 2004

Tech Cluster Ventures Into Social Change
Women's eNews, April 19, 2004

Girls' Day Out
Mountain View Voice, Friday, March 2004

Girl Summit Activates Social Change
The Spartan Daily, Friday, February 27, 2004

Challenge for Teenage Girls
San Jose Mercury News, Thursday, February 26, 2004

Teen Girls Defining a California Dialect
San Jose Mercury News, Sunday, February 8, 2004

Conference Promotes Self-Esteem For Youths
San Jose Mercury News, Saturday, October 11, 2003

The New Face of Philanthropy|
Business Week, December 2, 2002

Nonprofits Get a Life
San Francisco Business Times, October 25-31, 2002

Girls for Change
San Jose Mercury News, Thursday, October 10, 2002

Girl Power!
Mountain View Voice, Friday, March 1, 2002

Girls For A Change
Bay Area Business Woman, September 2002

40 Women Under 40

Press Release Archive

Be a Coach!

As a volunteer “coach” you will work with a partner coach and group of 5-10 girls. Coaches guide the girls through identifying a problem in their community and solving it over the course of 12 weeks. Most importantly coaches tell girls they are powerful, important and valued. The coach position is a dynamic and rewarding experience that leads to connections with girls and other adult women in your area, implementation of a social change project and a contribution toward putting women at the global leadership tables.

To become a coach, apply at the Volunteer page for your site.

Benefits: Read what women have to say about the life-changing experiences as GFC coaches! You'll also gain:


When: You will meet once a week with girls for 12 weeks. This is a 15 hour per month time commitment from September through December OR January through April. The time you spend will change the lives of girls. The GFC program year begins with a coach orientation and ends with a celebration of the team’s work.

Where: Girls who are members of GFC are either in middle school or high school. On the coach application you will be able to tell us your preference for location and times of meetings so that we can match you with the team that best fits your schedule.

Training: We also offer an additional coach training sessions besides orientation that assist coaches in working with teams, youth development, managing a social change project in partnership with girls and networking with other professional women. GFC coaches also say that their GFC training enhances their professional skills - from communication to project planning. Once you are accepted as a coach, you will receive a calendar of all orientation and training dates in your area.


  • Ability to fully commit to a 12-week volunteer assignment from September through December OR January through April
  • Ability to attend coach orientation
  • Willingness to be screened and fingerprinted.
  • Willingness to work in partnership with another volunteer coach.
  • Desire to encourage, inspire, empower, ignite and engage young women to develop their leadership abilities and implement social change projects.
  • Willingness to be flexible and open to the organic process that youth projects often take.

For more information contact:
[email protected]

Our Story

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.

Topofblog_FINALThe 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.

GFC Awards

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. 

Jobs & Internships

Influence GFC is an equal opportunities employer. We encourage women, people of color, and all abilities and sexual orientations to apply.



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