This annual report is a reflection of community. We are grateful for the families and educators who step forward to learn and grow. We are grateful for the depth and breadth of our partnerships with schools, districts, and national organizations such as the WNBA, and global companies like Mattel — all of whom are committed to providing girls the tools to step into their power and lead. We are grateful for our partners and donors whose financial support makes our work possible.
Girls Leadership believes that girls need support and practice to embrace their power as they approach adolescence — not relinquish it or have it silenced. Our girls are growing up in a world that teaches them their worth comes from being polite, pretty, and perfect, in other words, other people will decide their worth. This unfair world privileges some girls, and marginalizes others. We’ve found that we can best teach girls to know their voice, their leadership, their power, when they understand both their individual agency, and the unfair systems they must navigate that give or take away unearned privilege. When we create programs where the most marginalized girls thrive, we actually create the best programs for everyone, including boys and gender expansive youth. All girls enter a culture and system of oppression and by centering the needs of the most marginalized girls, we ensure that no matter how the overall system of oppression works to impact a girl, all girls will be seen in their leadership journey can reach their full potential. This approach is essential given that over half of the population of girls in the U.S. identifies as girls of color.
We provide educational programming for families and professional development for educators, coaches, and program staff, including work in schools to co-design with girls the solutions that they envision, and elevate their leadership and power. We also conduct research that centers girls’ voices, such as our Ready to Lead report on the leadership supports and barriers for Black and Latinx girls, and our forthcoming study on the leadership of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) girls.
Our approach of partnering with girls to co-create solutions, and then taking those solutions to adults with the power to make changes, was recently recognized by Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda French Gates company, with a substantial investment to sustain our work. This investment will allow us to expand the liberation and joy of girls’ leadership to new regions of the country: the South and the Midwest.
This past year, we impacted the lives of over 80,000 girls at Girls Leadership, 65% of them are girls of color, and 67% qualify for free or reduced school lunch.
The Challenge + The Opportunity
Girls Leadership addresses two foundational problems that contribute to gender and racial inequity in leadership.
1. The Internal Barrier to Leadership: Data show that internalized gender expectations contribute to a loss of confidence in adolescence across all identities and income groups.
2. The External Barrier to Leadership: Teachers, parents, and other adult influencers often perpetuate limiting gender norms: rewarding perfection, politeness, and compliance over leadership. This bias against girls, especially girls of color, results in girls being punished and pushed out of school and programs for speaking up or demonstrating other leadership qualities
Be Part Of The Solution!
You can be a part of this journey of change and opportunity! Here’s how:
- Family Programs: Last year we connected with 836 families through our Girl & Grown-up workshops for families of girls in grades K-8 and 4,253 parents and caregivers through our parent education webinars for families of girls in grades K-12. Join us for a forthcoming program!
- Professional Development: Last year we reached 2,128 coaches, teachers, and youth professionals with professional development training and curriculum that teaches leadership to all girls by creating educational environments that meet the needs of the most marginalized girls.
- Power Lab Partnerships: We partner with schools across the country where we co-design programs and content with girls. We call these partnerships Power Lab Schools, where listening and creative solutions flourish every day. If you’re interested in becoming a Power Lab School, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Research: We conduct groundbreaking research to understand the assets and needs of girls. See our latest research, Ready to Lead (August 2020, funded by Morgan Stanley, The New York Women’s Foundation, Genentech, Vodafone Americas Foundation, Applied Materials Foundation, Paul Weiss, Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, Airbnb, and The Harnish Foundation) and She Knows Her Power (October 2021, funded by Mattel). If you’re interested in partnering with us on research, contact email@example.com.