Nonprofit Spotlight: Oakland’s Girls Leadership Breaking Down Unrealistic Standards and Empowering Girls to Make their Voices Heard
“GL is a place where a girl can gain the knowledge and the confidence to become the girl they truly want to be.”
We equip girls with the skills to exercise the power of their voice.
We structure our work around four central values: Authentic Communication, Courageous Growth, Equity, and Play.
What Makes Us Unique?
1) Girls Leadership works not only with girls, but also with their primary influencers – parents, teachers, and caregivers – to create sustainable impact. Studies show parents and teachers to be the most powerful teachers for girls all the way through high school.
2) We put social and emotional learning (SEL) at the foundation of all our leadership development.
3) We see girls’ real-life, every-day relationships with friends and family as the primary opportunity we have to teach girls the leadership skills that will serve them over a life-time: self-advocacy, negotiation, compromise, personal responsibility and conflict as an opportunity for change.
There are 25 million K-12th grade girls in the United States. If you combine the efforts of all national girl-serving organizations, we are only reaching about three million, or about 12% of girls. That means 22 million girls in the US aren’t being reached. Girls Leadership’s bold goal is to close that gap. Girls Leadership is collaborating with other organizations to elevate the girl-serving field, deepen our knowledge, and broaden our reach so that every single one of those 25 million girls has the awareness, skills and confidence to live as everyday leaders.
At Girls Leadership we recognize that gender is a reflection of identity, biology, and expression. We welcome anyone who self-identifies as girl or young woman. We aren’t in the business of determining anyone’s gender. That decision is the right of every individual.
At Girls Leadership we define leadership as knowing who you are, what you believe, and being able to express your beliefs effectively to influence others. We see girls’ everyday relationships with friends, family, and peers as leadership opportunities. Leadership isn’t reserved for those few individuals who land in formal roles, such as team captain, or class president, but is a way of life that every girl can live every day. Our goal is to equip every girl with the courage, skills, and community to exercise the power of her voice.
Our headquarters office is located in Oakland, California and we run in-person programs across the country. Our renowned residential summer program is held at Mills College in Oakland, California, and our workshops and parent education talks take place across California, Colorado, New Jersey and New York. With our growing library of online resources, we hope to expand our work across geographic, class, and racial boundaries to impact as many girls as possible.
Empowering girls before they lose their voice. Without great role models to instruct them, girls can have a hard time speaking up and advocating for themselves.
Is ‘Girl Power’ really the right message for our daughters?
We mean well with this slogan, but let’s think about what it’s actually telling girls and boys.
We Tell Our Kids That Hard Work Always Pays Off. What Happens When They Fail Anyway? By Rachel Simmons, Girls Leadership Co-founder.
How to Make Your Message More Powerful. Michelle Barry Franco talks about thought leaders who are doing this really well, why taking a stand is such a critical part of having a strong message, and the three essential elements you should consider when getting on any stage.
How Not to Be a Snowplow Parent
The college bribery scandal raises the concern that overprotected young children are ill-equipped to face challenges. Here’s advice for raising a self-sufficient child.
The Virtues of Girl-Boy Friendships. Even as more grown-ups come around to the idea that gender is a spectrum, children continue to draw a bold line between “boy” and “girl” and police these categories with a great fervor. “Boys can’t be friends with girls, and boys can’t jump rope!” my son’s friend recently explained to him during recess.
Is “girl power” creating a mental health crisis?
Will girls ever feel like they are enough as they are? Like many American girls raised after the Women’s Movement, Rachel grew up believing that not only could she accomplish anything she put her mind to, but she was also expected to excel at everything.
Supergirl is a Myth: How to Help Girls Thrive in a World of Growing Expectations. In “Enough As She Is,” Rachel Simmons explores how effortless perfection became the expectation for girls and how parents and society can “dispense with the myth of the so-called amazing girl.”
How Empowering Girls to Confront Conflict and Buck Perfection Helps Their Well-Being. CEO & Co-founder Simone Marean says it’s crucial that adults start helping young girls to engage in productive conflict, acknowledge and grow from mistakes, develop emotional intelligence and take responsibility for the role they each play in social situations.
Teaching girls they can be anything — but they don’t have to be everything. Rachel Simmons says we must help girls know themselves well enough to pursue what makes them tick, not what they assume will please or impress others.
The Promise of Self-Compassion for Stressed-Out Teens Rachel Simmons shares a powerful tool for “owning up to a tough moment without paying for it with your self-worth.”
With the fall of Rob Porter, are we ready to stop giving a pass to abusers? Rachel Simmons urges parents to talk to their daughters about what sort of values they want to embody — and then help them understand that those values carry over into every part of their lives.
Perfectionism among teens is rampant (and we’re not helping). Rachel Simmons offers alternatives to simply saying, “just chill” to our kids.
How to Help Your Child Not Bea #MeToo. Rachel Simmons says, “It’s up to us to say, ‘I believe your feelings and you should too,’ because self advocacy can only happen when you authorize your own feelings.”
Rachel Simmons talked about how she learned from mistakes to achieve success, and why parents must share their own mistakes and apologize in front of kids too.
Rachel Simmons weighs in on a Dutch woman who faces down her catcallers by posting selfies with them, using social media as a tool to take back her own power.
Are the Boy Scouts trying to recruit girls away from the Girl Scouts? Rachel Simmons on why girls and boys need single sex spaces to be themselves, with each other.
6 Things Parents Should Know About Sending Kids Back to School. If your child is sad about leaving camp friends or worried about the academic pressures of the next grade level, hear her out — and show empathy. Then, avoid the knee-jerk reaction to fix everything. Instead, ask your child to brainstorm ways to make the situation better.
Managing Self-Expectations and the Potential to Fail. Rachel Simmons joins host Laura Zarrow to discuss how women can learn to “fail well” and become more assertive and self-aware.
Everyday Sexism in a ‘Post-Feminist’ World. Pop culture tells girls they can do anything, but the messages they experience in the classroom tell a different story. Organizations like Girls Leadership are providing solutions.
On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus. A Smith College initiative with Rachel Simmons called “Failing Well” is one of a crop of university
programs that aim to help high achievers cope with basic setbacks.
How to help children learn resilience through failure. GMA interviewed Rachel Simmons about concepts in her upcoming book, Enough as She Is.
6 Ways to Be a Strong Role Model for Your Daughter “There is so much pressure to put other people’s feelings and needs ahead of our own—and we need to change the messaging for the next generation of women,” says Simone Marean
Body image: Are girls’ clothes sending wrong message to kids? (Opinion) “Self-consciousness goes up with the more skin you are baring and the more shape you are showing.. Your body becomes an object that others can have access to, and we know that self-objectification begins really early,” said Rachel Simmons.
The Girl Scouts Is Raising Our Next Generation of Rippers “If we can build bravery skills, then they’ll have the internal capacity to recover from failure and go back out there and try again,” Marean says. Pain and rejection will happen; being in nature can help girls find solace, strength, and inspiration.
Gloria Steinem: There Is No Such Thing As ‘White Feminism’ At an intimate fundraising dinner held Thursday evening in New York City to benefit non-profit Girls Leadership, Steinem spoke at length about the perception that silos that exist between black and white feminists.
Want to raise empowered women? Start in middle school. Practical tips for empowering middle schoolers, featuring Co-Founder Rachel Simmons & more.
Want to Raise a Rocket Scientist? 20 Holiday Gifts to Give Girls a Head Start. Featuring Girls Leadership Parent & Daughter Book Club.
How DonorsChoose, She’s The First And Girls Leadership Built Their Brands. “Over the years we’ve learned to trust our audience,” says Simone Marean. “Now we do our best to give away content every day.”
The art of saying no: How to raise kids to be polite, not pushovers. Common courtesy shouldn’t outweigh common sense. Help your kids learn how to say no. Interview with Cofounder Simone Marean.
Katie Ward interviewed our co-founder Simone Marean on why it’s time to retire the term “mean girls,” and why the princess phase doesn’t mean the end of feminism as we know it.
Is Your Kid Ready for a Best Friend? Whether your child has a BFF, wants one, or isn’t yet clued in to the concept, these tips will help you teach her what true friendship entails.
About 100 parents gathered at the New Canaan Library on March 8 to hear Simone Marean talk about Raising Resilient Girls in the Digital Age, hosted by LiveGirl
One of our Adventure Nannies, Aryn, works as an educator with Girl’s Leadership, so we sat down with her to learn more about this life-changing organization.
Encouraging Girls to Face Fear, Take Risks and Seek Adventure. Host Mina Kim interviewed Simone Marean and “The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure” author Caroline Paul.
Parents help girls change the world. Girls Leadership encourages interaction between girls and parents to help girls cope with the challenges they may face, as well as increase social and emotional intelligence.
More than 300 parents came to Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, NJ to hear how they can be better role models in influencing the emotional and intellectual lives of their daughters.
7 Skills to Teach Your Daughter by Age 13. Rachel Simmons on how parents can help girls through the pressure of tween life.
How Embracing Failure Can Be a Stepping Stone to Success. Teach young women there is value in failure—even more so than in success—if you fail chasing a dream, taking a risk, or trying something new.
Why This Nonprofit Wants to Help Girls Fail. Want more female leaders? Lose the pressure for perfection. Fortune’s article of Simone Marean’s interview with Lauren Schiller.
Why Your Kids Love Snapchat, and Why You Should Let Them, by Rachel Simmons
We all want our sons and daughters to grow up strong and independent, but how do we ensure that ‘having it all’ doesn’t mean ‘doing it all’? Lauren Schiller interviewed Simone Marean.
Sesame Street’s 1st Muppet With Autism Aims to End Stigma, Promote Understanding. Rachel Simmons says Julia, the newest Muppet, can teach all kids empathy.
Rachel Simmons on Good Morning America talking about why girls tend to take failure harder than boys, and what parents can do to help them manage failure.
The Secret to Raising a Happy, Confident Girl. While girls’ levels of academic achievement have risen, their rates of stress, anxiety, and depression have risen as well.
Target aisles losing gender designations, and Simone Marean weighed in.
Alicia Keys Discloses Why She Chose to Hide Behind Her Tomboy Look
What Parents of Teens Should Know About Instagram
This one goes out to all the moms of tweens…
7 Summer Camps Empowering Girls That You Should Support (Or Attend)
Pixar’s Inside Out offers the chance for parents and their children to have meaningful and impactful conversations surrounding emotional health.
Why you should embarrass your kids, and how conflict as an opportunity for change is a radical concept for girls.
Name-calling, teasing and social exclusion is happening to their daughters in early elementary school, kindergarten or even preschool.
“After the presentation and the question and answer session that followed, it was clear that parents would be leaving with language to use at home to resolve conflicts effectively,”
Ronnie and Simone talked about the pressures on middle school girls, what’s available for boys’ social emotional learning, and our goals to reach 25 million girls.
Simone Marean and her award-winning presentation “Raising Resilient Girls” was featured in Parents Magazine.
When the inevitable “fight” occurs between your daughter and another girl, I’m reminded every day how little I understand girls.
Read about Girls Leadership expanding into New Jersey and our first event with host study partner, the Livingston Board of Education.
Read an article in the Maplewood Patch about Rachel Simmons’ talk in Maplewood, NJ.
Heidi L of the feminist blog the FBomb found her way to amazing, interesting, inspiring, fierce, fabulous females, and the adventures and spirit lives on.
Hear Co-Founder and Executive Director Simone Marean talk about girls and the ambition gap, with best-selling author Peggy Orenstien and About Face’s Jennifer Berger.
Watch Co-Founder Rachel Simmons give a Tedx Talk about girls leadership.
Read an article in (French) Libération about GL’s Real Parents, Real Daughters workshop in New York.
Hearing Girls Leadership Institute Executive Director Simone Marean talk about “Raising Resilient Girls” seemed like a good way to better understand the complex undercurrents of the interactions of girls on the school yard.
Girls face relationship challenges that can be very sophisticated at a very young age. Parents of the youngest girls often feel helpless to deal with the mean girl behavior that their daughters experience.
The message of Simone Marean’s Real Parents, Real Daughters workshop was the classic stuff of female assertiveness training: Be strong. Respect yourself. Look people in the eye. Calmly tell them what you need and how you feel. But this was no ordinary assertiveness class.
Watch Meredith interview Rachel Simmons and talk all about GL on the Today Show.
“Everyone where I live really judges me,” one girl says. “My mom sent me here because she said no one would judge me.”