Advocacy News

Girl Scouts camp out on the White House lawn with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host Girl Scouts from across the country for a campout on the South Lawn of the White House on June 30, 2015, in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Girl Scouts Inaugural Guests at First-Ever White House Campout

On June 30, 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the first-ever White House Campout as part of her “Let’s Move! Outside” initiative, which aims to get kids outdoors to explore nature and develop healthy habits. She welcomed fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts to participate in activities to earn their Camper badge, and to celebrate the release of the new Girls’ Choice Outdoor badges. The participating Girl Scouts engaged in both new and traditional outdoor activities, including rock wall climbing, knot tying, orienteering, and tent pitching.

The event celebrated the National Park Service (NPS) centennial and Great Outdoors Month, and it was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior. As part of the centennial celebration of the NPS, for which the First Lady serves as honorary co-chair, President Obama launched the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, which calls on federal agencies to help get all children to visit and enjoy the outdoors and inspire a new generation of Americans to experience their country’s unrivaled public lands and waters.

Since its beginning in 1912, Girl Scouts has been committed to ensuring every girl has access to unique outdoor experiences. As part of its 2015 legislative agenda, Girl Scouts supports efforts to ensure that all girls, particularly underserved girls who may have limited opportunities to experience nature, can get outdoors regularly and in varied ways. Girl Scouts also aims to provide opportunities for girls to explore solutions to environmental issues and develop an increased understanding of the natural sciences, natural resource management, and STEM careers.

Girl Scouts at the STEM Fair on Capitol Hill
Girl Scouts Attend STEM Fair on Capitol Hill

July 22, 2015—Girl Scouts from the Nation’s Capital council attended the Women’s Policy, Inc. STEM Fair on Capitol Hill in the Cannon Caucus room. Exhibitors included companies, federal agencies, and nonprofits that shared how they are working to increase women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and math. Girls had the opportunity to meet real-life STEM role models, like astronaut Cady Coleman, and participate in hands-on STEM learning activities.

Girl Scouts was represented by Jordan Giles, a Gold Award recipient from Washington, DC, who shared her Gold Award project with attendees. Jordan developed and implemented an energy fair at her school—featuring environmental leaders from DC who discussed renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living—to encourage youth to make more environmentally sustainable choices.

At the Celebration of Leadership Reception
Celebration of Leadership Reception at the Capitol 

On May 19, 2015, nearly 60 guests attended the Celebration of Leadership reception in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. During the reception, Girl Scouts of the USA’s chief executive officer, Anna Maria Chávez, and new National Board president, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, welcomed new female members of the 114th Congress to Troop Capitol Hill, Girl Scouts’ honorary troop made up of all female members of the United States Congress.

The reception was held in coordination with the leaders of Troop Capitol Hill: Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Patty Murray (D-WA); and Representatives Susan Brooks (R-IN), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

At the reception, Anna introduced Kathy to Troop Capitol Hill and other Members of Congress. Troop Capitol Hill co-chairs shared remarks detailing their personal experiences with Girl Scouts and the importance of supporting female leadership.

Members of Congress also met one of our outstanding girls who aspires to follow in their footsteps: Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Lauren Prox from Virginia’s Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast, whose project, “Reaching New Altitudes,” engaged females and minorities in STEM activities. Lauren’s story inspired the Congressional leaders in the room and gave them a glimpse of what Girl Scouts is all about.

Girl Scout Councils meet with state leaders
2015 Advocacy in Action: Girl Scout Councils at the State House

Girl Scout Councils across the country have come together statewide to hold events at their state capitols to raise awareness about the great work that they are doing to help girls in their community.

The Girl Scout Council CEOs in Indiana came together to meet with their state assembly leadership, including the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, to promote Girl Scouts as a valuable resource when discussing issues related to girls, youth, and/or nonprofits. The state elected officials enjoyed the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the high-impact work councils are doing in their communities. Their state legislators were also impressed by the Girl Scout Research Institute and the state-based State of Girls: Thriving or Surviving? fact sheet.

Girl Scout Councils in Maryland have been working to build strong relationships with elected officials. In January, Violet M. Apple, CEO, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland met with state elected officials to share the impactful work her girls and staff are doing throughout their geographic area. On February 26, all Girl Scout Councils in Maryland hosted a breakfast reception at the state capitol for their elected officials, and used this opportunity to pin newly elected females as a symbol of their membership in Honorary Troop 1920.

Girl Scout Councils in South Carolina are creating an outstanding tradition at their State House, since 2012 the councils have been hosting an annual breakfast with the South Carolina General Assembly Women's Caucus. This year, the breakfast was held on March 4, and was a great prelude to the Legislative Day at the State Capitol held on March 10. The councils' Board Chairs and CEOs took the opportunity to present to the female legislators recent council activities and the positive impact their organizations have on girls throughout the state.

North Carolina took advantage of the long legislative session to host a day-long event at the state capitol. The councils kicked off the day with a reception attended by their state legislators, after which 18 girls shadowed members of their general assembly. Council leadership took the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with elected officials to inform them of the Girl Scouts' legislative agenda priorities as well as the councils' current activities and impact in their communities.

Many other states including Alabama, Texas, and Tennessee have recently held events at their state capitols. These events are a great way to inform state legislators that Girl Scouts is a resource for issues that impact girls in their district and state, as well as to raise their awareness of the unique programs Girl Scouts offers girls every day.

Girl Scout "Supergirls" meet with President Barack Obama
Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma Attend White House Science Fair

March 23, 2015 – For the fourth consecutive year, Girl Scouts were selected to attend the White House Science Fair. This year the theme was celebrating women and girls in STEM. Both "The Supergirls" from the Girl Scout Council of Eastern Oklahoma and Lauren Prox, a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient from Newport News, Virginia were honored at the fair.

"The Supergirls," a Junior First Robotics Lego League team of Daisy Girl Scouts were selected to exhibit one of 40 projects in the White House Science Fair. The girls designed and built a battery powered page-turning robot, made from Lego blocks, to assist individuals with disabilities that make it difficult to turn pages while reading.

President Obama gave special mention to "The Supergirls" and stated that they are today's youngest scientists at six years old. After speaking with the girls about how they came up with their impressive project in a brainstorming session, Obama said he has brainstorming sessions as well, "but I didn't come up with something as cool as this—an automatic page turner. Unbelievable."

Lauren Prox was also recognized for her "Reaching New Altitudes" project, which exposes minorities and females to STEM activities in an effort to close the representation gaps in STEM fields. Prox worked with local scouting troops and youth-serving organizations in the Newport News, Virginia area to organize aviation-themed scavenger hunts, and created aerospace-centered lesson plans for troop leaders to use. While at the White House Lauren discussed her work with many individuals, including NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr.

Girl Scouts of Texas celebrate 103rd birthday at the State Capitol

Girl Scouts of Texas celebrated Girl Scouts' 103rd birthday at the State Capitol by hosting a breakfast reception for female legislators, which included a pinning ceremony for Honorary Troop 1920.

CEOs and Board Members from five of the seven Girl Scout councils in Texas attended and met with state legislators. Carri Baker Wells, member of the National Board of Girl Scouts of the USA, was in attendance and introduced participants to some of Girl Scouts' advocacy priorities which include: encouraging healthy living opportunities for girls by increasing access to outdoor activities; promoting economic opportunities by increasing involvement in STEM and strengthening financial literacy skills; fostering global citizenship and a voice for girls; and supporting a strong nonprofit community and Girl Scout experience.

Proclamations in the House and Senate were presented by longtime Girl Scout supporters, Representative Celia Israel and Senator Lois Kolkhorst. "Have faith in yourselves and know that the women in this room believe in you and want to see you succeed," said Senator Kolkhorst.

After the breakfast reception, the Girl Scouts of Texas had a legislative advocacy training session where girls learned advocacy strategies.

GSUSA leadership with Girl Scouts at the White House
Girl Scouts Partner with the First Lady Michelle Obama and Peace Corps on the Let Girls Learn Initiative

March 3, 2015 – In celebration of International Women's Day, Anna Maria Chávez, Girl Scouts of the USA Chief Executive Officer, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, National Board President, six Girl Scouts from the Heart of New Jersey Council and their council CEO, Pat Carroll, were invited to the White House to join President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to announce the new Let Girls Learn initiative with the Peace Corps, as well as our commitment to support the advancement of girls' access to education worldwide.

As the largest, most successful girl leadership development organization in the world, we know that when girls thrive, so does our world. Through this partnership, we are expanding the scope of our work and deepening our support for girls' education globally by making tools and resources available to girls who are pursuing two of our most prestigious awards: the Global Action badge and the Gold Award. Girls will now be able to connect to Peace Corps volunteers working on girls' education projects and resources like PBS Learning Media's online platform to learn more about the importance of education for girls.

GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chávez attends "Every Kid in a Park" launch event
Anna Maria Chávez attends the launch of the Every Kid in a Park Initiative in Chicago

February 19, 2015 – Girl Scouts of the USA Chief Executive Officer Anna Maria Chávez joined President Obama, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and other federal park officials in announcing a major new White House initiative, "Every Kid in a Park." This initiative will ensure that every child in America has an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature and the educational opportunities offered by our National Park System by providing free access to national parks and other public lands.

For over a century, providing girls with access to the outdoors, fostering resiliency, helping girls build vital skills such as problem solving, and encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle, have been cornerstone elements of the Girl Scout mission. In continuing to provide girls with outdoor opportunities, Girl Scouts is preparing to roll out new outdoor badges and programs. It is truly amazing for Girl Scouts, as a leader in the outdoor space, to have the opportunity to partner with the White House on this important initiative.

Girl Scouts conduct interviews with their female Members of Congress

December 8, 2014 – Girl Scouts of the USA is honored to release a video series titled Portraits in Leadership, in which Girl Scouts interview women Members of Congress.

Girl Scouts across the country sat down with their congresswomen to learn about their individual leadership journeys and discover what inspired them to take on leadership roles. The interviews gave Girl Scouts an opportunity to ask these accomplished women for advice about the skills and the character girls will need to develop in order to lead our world in the twenty-first century. Seventy five percent of the women in the U.S. Senate and 54 percent of the women in the House of Representatives are Girl Scout alumnae; but regardless of whether or not they were Girl Scouts, each congresswoman spoke of the value of having an organization such as Girl Scouts to help girls develop leadership qualities.

Girl Scouts joins Intel on Capitol Hill to Reduce the Tech Gender Gap

November 18, 2014 – Girl Scouts was proud to participate at a bipartisan Capitol Hill briefing focused on broadening the participation of girls and underrepresented minorities in the Maker Movement. Intel released a new report in the beginning of November entitled MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making and Creating and Inventing. The report indicates that girls and women involved with "making," designing and creating things with electronic tools may build a stronger interest and skills in computer science and engineering.

Suzanne Harper, Chief Girl Experience Innovator at Girl Scouts of the USA, spoke on the panel about the results of a pilot program conducted with five Girl Scout councils. In partnership with the Maker Education Initiative with support from Intel, the five councils recruited two young women to be Maker Corps Members. Those young women helped 4th and 5th graders do Maker projects at summer camp.

Emily Sullivan, a 16-year old Girl Scout from Nation's Capital, shared her personal experiences with STEM and Maker activities, and how much Girl Scouts has enabled her interests. Emily spoke about how she enjoys attending the Advanced Space Academy camp over summer in Huntsville, Alabama with the Girl Scouts Destination program, where activities included electrolysis, creating ablative shields, filtration, and rocketry. Emily emphasized that every girl in her Troop is a maker and that Girl Scouts encourages girls to be "makers" with the variety of activities and badges they complete.

Girl Scouts briefing on Capitol Hill releasing The State of Girls report

March 20, 2014 – Girl Scouts of the USA hosted a brown bag lunch briefing for staff on Capitol Hill to highlight the findings from the Girl Scout Research Institute's report, The State of Girls: Unfinished Business. The briefing was an opportunity to share the data compiled from The State of the Girls report with staff on Capitol Hill to help inform policy on many of these issues which impact girls today.

The panel included coauthor of the report, Dr. Kamla Modi from the Girl Scout Research Institute, Communications Director of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast council, Marcy Germanotta, and a Girl Scout from the council, Lily. Dr. Modi highlighted many of the key findings in the report which includes major trends affecting girls' leadership and healthy development in the U.S. today.

One of the highlights of the panel was Lily, a Girl Scout from Colonial Coast council, who spoke about her experiences with bullying/relational aggression in school, and how she has learned to navigate unhealthy social situations in a way that allows her to overcome the scenario and recognize the positive people in her life. According to The State of Girls, 30% of girls have experienced some form of bullying from their peers. Lily is working on bringing a Girl Scout program called BFF (Be a Friend First) to her community with the hope that girls will learn new ways to develop healthy relationships with one another while building self-esteem and confidence.