Girls' Positive Development
Extracurricular or out-of-school-time (OST) programs play a key role in promoting positive development among youth. Studies have shown that involvement in OST programs in areas such as the arts, music, sports, community service, and other enrichment activities have been linked to positive outcomes for youth, such as higher levels of academic success, and a decrease in negative outcomes, including lower school dropout rates and a reduction in risk behaviors (e.g. alcohol, crime, drugs).
Once a global leader in education, the United States now faces an education crisis, one that in a generation could become an economic crisis if the U.S. is unable to compete globally. While classroom experiences are the focus of intervention efforts, the most effective solutions will combine a focus on OST programming that empowers students so they are ready to learn when they enter the classroom. It's time to invest in our children and our nation's future!
Girl Scouting Linked to Academic Success
Research shows that OST programs can significantly impact children's and youth's developmental, learning, and academic trajectories in multiple ways. Yet only a small fraction of youth are engaged in OST programming. Read more here.
The Girl Scout Research Institute recently released its latest outcomes report, Linking Leadership to Academic Success: The Girl Scout Difference. Based on a 2011 national study of nearly 3,000 fourth-through-eighth-grade Girl Scouts, this report explores how Girl Scout experiences contribute to girls' success in school. Some of its key findings are:
- Girl Scout participation has a positive impact on girls' leadership.
- Leadership skills that girls develop in Girl Scouts, such as problem solving and challenge seeking, contribute to their academic engagement and achievement.
- Girl Scouting influences academic success as much as, and sometimes more than, positive relationships with teachers and weekly participation in out-of-school-time activities—factors that are known to boost success in school.
- The cooperative learning and girl-led Girl Scout processes are particularly important to achieving both the leadership and academic outcomes of Girl Scouting.
- Lower-SES girls (those whose moms have less than a college education) report greater benefits from Girl Scouting than do higher-SES girls.
Overall, these findings confirm that OST programs with no explicit academic component (e.g., math tutoring) do indeed support young people's academic progress. Girl Scouting, in particular, helps girls flourish academically by providing them with a collaborative and ongoing social environment in which they learn and practice skills such as planning and strategic help seeking, and a variety of experiences in which they take on leadership roles, face challenges, and learn to persist at things that are difficult for them.
Linking Leadership and support materials, including tip sheets and quotes, are available for download here!
Lessons Learned From a Century of Girl Scouting
The Girl Scout Research Institute recently published a paper summarizing the unique and positive impact of Girl Scouting on alumnae and girls today. The paper, "Youth Organizations and Positive Development: Lessons Learned from a Century of Girl Scouting," was featured in the Kinder and Braver World Project Research Series out of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. It is a collaboration with the Born This Way Foundation (founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta) and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.