Dear Friends,

We are big fans of Valentine’s Day. At Girls Leadership Institute (GLI), Valentine’s Day is a winter reminder of Love Notes, a Summer Program and Day Camp tradition dating back 13 years!

Every day throughout the Summer Program and Day Camp, each participant writes notes to the other girls describing something she admires about them. The only guideline is that it can’t be based on appearance. Over the course of the program each participant gets a Love Note, giving every girl a tangible memory of a special quality she posseses or an action she took that someone else admired.

Why Love Notes at programs promoting girls’ leadership? Because somewhere between fourth grade and high school, most girls fall out of love with themselves. When girls lose their self-confidence, they also lose their ability to take healthy risks which translates into a loss of potential in academics, relationships, sports, or other areas of their lives. At our Summer Program, girls tell us they build the truest friendships they have ever known—authentic friendships in which they are loved for being themselves. These friendships teach our girls the powerful lessons that we can’t put into a curriculum; first, they experience the kind of amazing relationship they deserve year round, and second, they get a major dose of self-love.

Self-love is the foundation for a life of leadership. Listen to what Lea, a high school participant, said on her last morning at GLI, “I thought I had to conquer the world in order to love myself; now I know that once I love myself, I can conquer the world.” So let’s keep celebrating Valentine’s Day GLI-style all year round. Each month, take ten minutes to write a note to a girl in your life and tell her what you admire about her. If she hears it enough, she may even believe it.

All my love,

Simone Marean
Co-Founder and Executive Director

Fierce Fabulous Friend

February’s Fierce Fabulous Friend award goes to Hannah de Blaeij for volunteering as our Program Evaluation Coordinator over the summer! Hannah dedicated hundreds of hours to analyze our evaluations and produce extremely valuable quantitative and qualitative data for GLI. She also created and helped implement a matching gifts process to maximize our fundraising efforts.

Hannah is now back home in the Netherlands re-connecting with her family and friends, and she recently started an exciting new position! We are happy that she is settled at home, but we wish she had stayed a little closer to GLI because she is so fabulous!

Spread the Love

For some girls, Valentine’s Day is a holiday of heart-shaped confections, red roses, and glittery Hallmark cards. For others, it’s the most upsetting day of the year—one that makes them feel left out and pressured. This February, instead of just focusing  on romantic relationships, why not try to devote the month to recognizing and appreciating allof the relationships in your life? Send a card to your mom, dad, best friend, or first cousin twice removed! You could even give cards to complete strangers by joining the Army of Lovers!

The Army of Lovers is a movement, led by writer Erika Anderson, to spread the love and joy of Valentine’s Day to everyone. On Friday, Anderson and her army handed out hundreds of handmade valentines to strangers across New York City. If you want to be a part of the #ArmyOfLovers in your city, let Erika know.

We Love Reunion

Last month, the GLI Summer Program community spent a weekend together at our annual Winter Reunion. More than 80 girls and staff gathered in New York to see old friends, meet new girls from different sessions, and get a dose of GLI love and support. This year, we had beautiful sunny weather and lots of snow. We snow tubed, created snow angels, ran around on a frozen lake, created stylish snowwomen, and had an amazing time playing together! Other activities included a T-shirt fashion show, GLI TV Tales, a hike inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., a poetry café, a Paper Tower competition, and the GLI games we all know and love. We had an absolute blast, laughing, dancing, talking, playing, and hanging with each other.

Summer Program applications are available, and grades are filling up fast. Our 7th- and 9th-grade programs are more than half filled. Learn more about our application process. We can’t wait to see you this summer, then we hope to see you again at Reunion next year!

Calling All Brave Girls: Apply for a Brave Life Grant

KedsHave a dream internship that doesn’t pay? Wish you had seed money to launch your own company or operation? You could win $1,000 from the Brave Life Project to bring your dream to life.

Keds is investing $150,000 to help girls follow their dreams! Brave Life grants will help girls fund their career goals and charitable dreams. Or you could win a trip to the 2014 Brave Life Summit this summer.

Girls aged 1324 have the opportunity to apply for a $1,000 grant to make their biggest brave career dreams come true. Funds can be used to provide financial support for an unpaid summer internship, to build new skills via workshops or classes, or to jump-start an amazing business idea.

The application process closes on March 28, 2014. All girls are encouraged to apply for a Brave Life grant!

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