Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). Please share what you have been reading in the comments!


Spring Break is almost here! Check out Reel Grrls and You Grow Girl’s spring break camps, whether you’re looking for a program for a girl, or a chance to volunteer.

Are you geek? Fan girl? Nerd? Geek Girl Con put out their yearly call for programming. If you know what you want to see at Geek Girl Con, why not create it?

Youth Development Executives of King County (YDEKC) is doing some amazing things to strengthen the youth development field. As a backbone organization, it’s often working behind the scenes, so take a minute to read up!

Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle hosted an Income Inequality Symposium at Seattle University. I wrote up my thoughts. You can read/hear more from KPLU.

Ladies is First is rocking and rolling again this week! They appeared on School Insider last week to talk about their work. My fave quote: “Every school should have a program like this.” YUP. You can shake their hands in person at a screening of Girl Rising tonight! 


In corporate partnership news, Teavana®/Starbucks and Oprah will donate some of the proceeds from the new Teavana® Oprah Chai to Girls Inc. (and a few other orgs). So go buy some tea!

Sales genius and Girl Scout Katie Francis sold 18,000 boxes of cookies this year, breaking the record and raising $63,000. She’s planning to donate her portion to breast cancer research. Katie, you rock!

In other Girl Scouts news, staffers organized a briefing on Capitol Hill to present their research “The State of Girls: Unfinished Business.” If you haven’t read it yet, check it out with a nice cup of Oprah tea and some cookies purchased from Katie Francis.

In the Research Blog over at Spark!, Marisa Ragonese recounts the history of the Riot Grrl movement, how it ushered in third wave feminism, and gave rise to organizations like Spark! Great read for Women’s History Month.


BuzzFeed profiled 7 Teen Girls Who are Changing the World. How awesome is that?!?! I mean, I loved those animals who are disappointed in me, but this is way cooler.

You can now stream Girl Rising, the incredible documentary about girls’ education, from the comfort of your own home/seat on the train/cubicle. OR go watch it with Ladies First in Tacoma!

McGill Law Feminists posted a beautiful series of photographs of women and men proclaiming they are feminists. Check out our Canadian brothers and sisters.


Income Inequality and #SeattleWage

The youth development field is full of people who want to do good. We forgo better salaries, prestige, and decent hours in order to work in a field that strives to make the world a better place. This moral authority makes it even more important for our field to come down on the right side of the $15 minimum wage issue.

This is not easy. Our organizations hustle to make budgets balance. During the Great Recession, many organizations closed their doors, restructured or merged, and/or laid off staff to survive. It’s been tough. The prospect of increasing wages, our greatest cost, can be terrifying.

But it’s time to be bold. We need to increase wages for three reasons:

1. Our mission: If we are truly committed to making our communities better, we need to come down on the side of policies that make our kids more economically secure.
2. Our programs: It hurts to see talented staff walk away in search of economic security. When we lose talented people to the private sector, it hurts our field.
3. Our staff: The living wage in King County for a single person is $17.55 an hour. If we work hard to prepare kids for economic security, while guaranteeing that our own staff are not economically secure, we fail at our mission.

We can spend our energy fighting the increase, wringing our hands about paying for it, pulling our hair out… Or we can dedicate that energy to making higher wages for our staff a reality. We can figure out the right pace to phase in the increase, we can approach donors together, and we can ask our law makers for help. No, it is not easy. But it’s the right thing to do. And if we believe in our missions, we need to do the right thing.

College Student Volunteers Part 2: Find Great Volunteers

Embed from Getty Images

Last week, I shared four keys to designing a great project for college student volunteers: define your goal, use “gateway drugs” to hook your volunteers, make your project team-based, and connect the work to your mission. Once you have a clear idea of your project (or how you will develop it) you need to find the volunteers to fill those open positions. This week, I have three tips for finding great volunteers: Put it in writing, connect with an existing group, and make it zazzy. 

Put it in Writing

Before you meet with prospective volunteers, put your expectations and needs in writing. Your document can be a brochure, flyer, or half-sheet, but it should answer a few key questions:

  1.      What are your needs and expectations? (Whether its co-create a project or execute pre determined tasks) What is the time commitment (including volunteer training)?
  2.      What are the benefits to the volunteer?
  3.      What is the impact of the product? i.e. Why are we doing all this work?

You want to be clear about what you’re looking for so you don’t end up with the volunteer version of buyer’s remorse (or the volunteer manager version).

Connect with an Existing Group

You can get great people from volunteer and club fairs, but if you want folks committed to your organization for the long haul, you need to build a stronger relationship.

When I needed to recruit volunteers to support the Girl Scouts cookie sale, I reached out to my network. One of my family friends worked at the University of Washington, and he connected me to a professor in the Foster School of Business. The professor connected me to the Foster Women in Business club, whose members were stoked to share their business expertise with budding entrepreneurs.

Think about the kinds of groups that might be interested in volunteer gigs with your org (Certain majors? Clubs? Athletes? Fraternities or Sororities?) Reach out to folks you know, send e-mails to club leaders, and talk to professors. Many colleges and universities have service learning centers, and their staff can be a godsend for making introductions and facilitating connections.

Once you land a meeting with student leaders, bring your notes, but be ready to be flexible. I’m not saying take anything (Volunteers That Don’t Help [VOTADOH] are no better than Stuff We Don’t Want [SWEDOW]), but ask what their club does and what they would like accomplish. Listen for alignment: where do their interests coincide with your goals and values? Are there win/wins? If yes, proceed with project planning and recruitment. If no, then thank them for their time and ask who might be good to connect with.

Make it Zazzy

Once you and the student leaders have fleshed out the volunteer role you wrote down in step one, it’s time for you to help them sell it. You can hand them a super dry, text heavy one-pager in Times New Roman, but it’s not going to convince anyone to join your team. Use pictures, bullet points, and quotes from clients to illustrate what you need, and why volunteering with you is awesome. If you don’t show volunteers how great working with you is going to be, how will they know? You don’t need to be a graphic designer (but if you have one USE HER!). Put on a big picture and the bullet point answers to those questions from the top. Leave white space. It’ll be awesome.

Is it always this easy? No. Is it totally worth it? Yes! I had so much fun working with college volunteer groups, and they executed amazing projects. It may be easier to do things by yourself, but you’ll have more new ideas, more creative initiatives, and ultimately more supporters if you tap this incredible market. Zazzle them at this stage, and you’ll be well on your way to building your college student volunteer corps. Check back next week for tips on how to keep your new volunteers coming back for more.

Female Rising

Embed from Getty Images

“We’re going to start with Beyonce, because she’s AMAZING,” Pam Grossman, curator of the Lean In Collection and Director of Visual Trends at Getty Images, said, kicking off a funny, insightful, and deeply feminist voyage through the six most important visual trends around gender.

In less than an hour, Grossman broke apart popular culture and put it back together. Through a pastiche of commercials, movie posters, tabloid images, memes, and blogs she artfully revealed our collective subconscious’s understanding of gender today.

And it isn’t all bad. Grossman concedes that the shear number of representations of women in visual culture remains problematic (and gave props to The Representation Project and the Women’s Media Center for tracking those trends), but she focused on six positive trends that she’s seeing:

  1. The increasing depiction of women as leaders, in business and trades
  2. Mothers as empowering and dads as nurturing
  3. The broader array of female bodies
  4. The rise of the funny woman
  5. The rise of the older woman
  6. The new girl

Each trend deserves a blog post, digital slide show, and TED talk of Grossman presenting her findings. Since this is a blog about girl justice, I’m focusing on “The New Girl.”

Increasingly, images of girls are “expanding the spectrum of possibility and showing pink isn’t the only color in the crayon box.” Toys and books are embracing gender neutrality, and toy stores are taking down the “boy” and “girl” signs, and replacing them with “dinosaurs” “trucks” and “dolls.”

The current generation of young parents grew up around working moms, and with feminism “in the water.” Many don’t mind if their sons and daughters don tutus and superhero t-shirts. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the most purchased Getty image for the search term “child” is gender ambiguous. “It’s awesome. It’s confusing. It’s exciting,” Grossman said.

But does it matter? What do these trends really mean? Can pantone depictions of girlhood make any impact? If it is right to get up in arms about negative and narrow depictions of women, then it is right to celebrate new, bold, and creative ones. The Lean In collection is an effort to “literally picture a more egalitarian world,” said Grossman. “It is an idealized microcosm of what the world is, and what it will be even more so.” 

Grossman’s “biggest takeaway” from the night is the one that fills me with the most hope: The primary users of social media are women and girls. “For the first time,” Grossman said “The majority of people with the mic, creating images, are women.”

We have the camera and the mic. What are we going to do with it? It’s an exciting, terrifying, and empowering thought. I can’t wait to see what girls create.

“Female Rising” was sponsored by Getty Images and InfluenceHer. To see Grossman’s presentation at SXSW, go here. To learn more about the Digital Trends team’s work, check out curve.gettyimages.com. Their articles on gender are particularly cool: “The Female Gaze” by Pam Grossman, “Female Rising” (no author) and “Female Rising: 5 Key Campaigns” (no author).

Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). Please share what you have been reading in the comments!


Ladies First founders Tasha Ina Church and T’wina Franklin are profiled on TV Tacoma’s “City Line.” I was fortunate to partner with these gals for a project last fall, and they are amazing. Watch the video. You will be floored by what they do.

If you live in Seattle, you should be thinking, reading, and talking about the $15 minimum wage. The King County Youth Development Network held a forum on the impact of the minimum wage in the youth development field, and the Seattle Times gave us an interesting article on teen-employment and the minimum wage

Pam Grossman, Visual Trends Director at Getty Images and curator of the Lean In photo collection, spoke at an amazing event hosted by InfluenceHer and Getty Images. Check back this weekend for a full report!

Thanks to School’s Out Washington for spotlighting news of interest to the youth development field from February and March.


The ladies over at SPARK rocked my world again this week, sharing their reflection on speaking  about the importance of working WITH girls  at the United Nation’s 58th Commission on the Status of Women. Seriously, just follow their blog and give them all your money.

Beautiful piece from the creator of CompuGirls about how we discourage girls from studying STEM. I especially loved this question: “Rather than measure success by how much the girls change their identities, shouldn’t we consider how far they move their communities?” She identifies the real goal: supporting girls to become “technosocial change agents.”

Speaking of STEM, the Girl Scouts and AT&T are teaming up to “[encourage] underserved high school girls to imagine a future STEM career by providing them with afterschool STEM mentoring activities.”


Pathfinder International posted video featuring girls and young women talking about their healthcare needs, from motherhood to family planning to abortion and post-abortion care.

College Volunteers Part 1: Design a Great Project

In college, two of my buddies invented the Third Wave Surf Clinics to build community amongst women. They planned everything, rounded up the people, borrowed boards and wet suits, and handled all the marketing. They were so successful that we had to add a second day.

If your organization could benefit from that kind of passion, you can get starting by designing a great project. Showing up on campus with some cookies, brochures, and pleas for “help” might get you a few warm bodies, but it won’t create the sustainable, powerhouse volunteer corps that you’re dreaming of.

Before you head back to school, ask yourself the basic questions: What do I need done? Why is it important? Sketch out a SMART goal so you know what your expectations are. Once you’re clear about what you need, it’s time to think about what your volunteers need, and craft the project to meet their needs.

Gateway Drugs

We all want volunteers to commit the next five years of their lives to our cause, but that may not be realistic for a student whose entire schedule will change next quarter. That is why I recommend using “Gateway Drugs”. Gateway drugs are short volunteer opportunities (1 day to 6 weeks) that give volunteers a taste of what you do. If you do it well, they will want more.

A GREAT example of the Gateway Drug approach is Girls on the Run of Puget Sound. Every fall and spring, they recruit over 1,000 running buddies who have a very cool, very short-term job: go to one practice, then run a 5k with a girl. It is an AWESOME volunteer experience, but it isn’t Girls on the Run’s only volunteer need. They also need hundreds of coaches who commit to leading practices twice a week for an entire season. Where do they get their coaches? Many come from the ranks of very happy running buddies.

Girls on the Run does not call their Running Buddy program a Gateway Drug (they are much classier than I am), but they have mastered the art of reeling in potential volunteers. So what’s your gateway drug? Brainstorm some short-term opportunities that will win the hearts of your potential volunteers.

Do it in teams

Volunteering in teams does four key things. First, it makes volunteering a fun, social experience. If volunteers are getting their social needs met, they are less likely to skip volunteering for other activities that meet their social needs (like football games, zumba classes, coffee dates, etc…)

Second, It creates peer pressure. Not the bad kind you learned about in school, but the good kind. It’s easier to quit on a distant, faceless volunteer manager than your teammate, sorority sister, or new volunteering buddies.

Third, the work is better. Get five or ten smart, excited people in a room and put them to work. They will feed off each other’s energy and exceed your expectations. Put ten individuals in ten different rooms over the course of the week and they will be bored and lonely and do nothing more than what they are asked.

Finally, if someone does have to drop out of the project when midterms hit, working in a group means there’s backup. Backup means you can let your volunteers keep rolling without butting in or picking up the slack.

Make it meaningful

Maybe you need envelopes stuffed, but nobody likes stuffing envelopes. If you are going to ask volunteers to take on a boring project, pair it with a film screening, panel discussion, or dance party. Millennials/generation Y folks want to feel a connection to a cause. When the activity is boring or administrative, you have to show how it is creating change. And of course, rounding up some refreshments and making it a fun, social event never hurts.

Want to up your game? Rather than throwing a paperwork party, provide student volunteers a significant role in planning the project. Yeah, it’s a bigger risk to provide lose parameters and say “GO!” but when volunteers co-create a project, they are more committed to seeing it through.

These three tips will help you get started planning projects for college student volunteers. Once you have a great project crafted, you need the volunteers to make it happen. Next week, we’ll tackle recruitment and engagement in Part 2: Find Great Volunteers.

Bonus note: I’m excited to reveal the identity of week four’s guest blogger: Breezie O’Neill, Community Development Manager for Girl Scouts of Western Washington! Breezie is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, volunteerism extraordinaire, and excellent human being. Look for her post during Volunteer Week (April 9-16).

Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). Please share what you have been reading in the comments!


Geek Girl Con announces that their interactive DIY Science Zone will be back for Geek Girl Con 2014.

School’s Out Washington celebrates passage of a bill to form an Expanded Learning Opportunities Council in Washington state. Congrats you guys!

This is the  LAST WEEKEND to buy GIRL SCOUT COOKIES in Western Washington. Click here to find cookies near you.


The Girl Scouts, Lean In, and Beyonce (Beyonce!!) team up to Ban Bossy, sparking an interesting conversation. Banning one word isn’t going to solve girls’ big problems (like depression, racism, and adults) BUT language matters, and discussion can be good.  Ann Friedman at NY Magazine, Margie Warrell at Forbes, and Jill Flipovich and Hadley Freeman at the Guardian all weigh in. What do you think?

It’s Women’s History Month! How should you celebrate? A Might Girl has recommended reads. Grab one, and share it with a girl in your life.

Sociological Images comments on a study that says playing with Barbies limits girls’ career aspirations.

15 of the 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search are girls. The article goes on to explain that girls regularly rock the competition, winning twelve times since 1991. More on the finalists here.


The Girl Effect calls for turning International Women’s Day on its head: “Instead of spending today talking about the issues girls face and what that will mean for them as women, let’s take a different track. Let’s spend the day celebrating the girls who are doing something about it, the girls who are changing things.” Right on!

GirlUp encourages everyone to advocate on behalf of Syria’s children for Take Action Tuesday. Use the hashtag #NoGenerationLost to raise awareness on social media. Need motivation to act? Watch this video about growing up in a war zone.

Girls Scouts Spirit of Nebraska and the Spark! Movement send girl delegates to Commission on the Status of Women at the UN. You girls rock!

New Series! Working with College Student Volunteers

Youth serving organizations turn to volunteers to make programs successful.  From board members to event volunteers, our community members are an incredible resource. Organizations that effectively leverage volunteers can reach more youth with fewer staff, stretching their hard fought dollars. As a result, youth organizations compete for time and attention. Even in Seattle, the city with the fourth highest volunteering rates in the country, only 1 in 3 adults volunteer. What’s a non-profit to do? Instead of competing for the same super-volunteers, create your own volunteer corps, starting with college students.  

I love working with students, from high school on up. But high school students can limited by laws and parental rules (they can’t supervise youth or drive after dark) and their own schedules (sports AND school AND applying for college AND trying to make some money…). In contrast, college students are legal adults, often with flexible schedules and the desire to put their book learning to work in the real world.  They can be idealistic, which is refreshing if you spend your days with grizzled, burnt out non-profit employees. (Let’s be honest, folks. This is real.) That idealism and learning can lead to incredible creativity and a willingness to try anything. PERFECT.

That’s not to say it’s all roses. College students’ lives change quickly. One quarter the schedule is easy, the next they are slammed by senior seminars or service learning classes. They may not live in your city year round. Or, their interests might change as they learn more about themselves and who/what they want to be. But what some call “flakiness” I call the cost of doing business with talented, passionate, young people. Craft your program the right way, and you can maximize the impact and minimize the chaos of working with college students.

Leading up to National Volunteer Week (April 6-12) I’m going to share some best practices for designing a volunteer program that works for you and your college student volunteers.  For those of you who like to read the table of contents, here’s a sneak peak:

Part 1 (March 19): Design a Great Project
Part 2 (March 26): Find Great Volunteers
Part 3 (April 2): Keep Them Coming Back
Part 4 (April 9): Guest Blogger—College Volunteers in the Field

Check back each Wednesday for ideas, tips, and tricks for building your college volunteer corps. Then celebrate Volunteer Week by pledging to engage more college students in your organization! You won’t regret it. 🙂



Hearing Vital Voices on International Women’s Day

“Just do great work because you love what you do.” ~Adrian Brown, COO Intellectual Ventures

I owe a lot to my mentors. They helped me choose a path, make connections, and adapt when I got stuck. My past mentoring relationships arose organically, so I was a bit skeptical of the  Vital Voices Mentoring Walk on International Women’s Day (Saturday, March 8, 2014). Could a meaningful relationship really arise in such a contrived environment? It sounded, well, a little corporate.

I signed up anyway because I like walking. Whatever my doubts, a long walk with an interesting woman sounded like a good way to spend International Women’s Day. My confidence flagged when I arrived and saw the agenda: the “walk” was only a third of the program, sandwiched between speeches and keynote addresses.

Fortunately, the keynote speakers were incredible. Susan Davis, Chair of the PR firm Susan Davis International, gave us the context: Vital Voices is an international women’s rights NGO, and the Seattle mentoring walk was one of 40 held around the world. It turns out that “Think Locally, Act Globally” could be the Mentoring Walk‘s motto.

But it was Adrian Brown who blew me away. The COO of Intellectual Ventures spoke eloquently about staring down stereotype threat in the business world, making bold choices, and remembering that “no one choice is forever.” Her advice on balancing work and family was refreshing: “You just have to do the best you can.” But her comments about finding a path most resonated with me: “Just do great work because you love what you do.”

With the stage set, we headed out for a very soggy walk to the Space Needle. My mentor, a business leader, provided the exact perspective I needed. One short walk was not enough to build a relationship, but I’m hopeful that I can reach out to her as I build Data Girl. I left feeling damp and invigorated.

Mentoring walks do not solve the big problems that women and girls face: eliminating the educational achievement gap, preparing for a trade, joining a union, and similar topics were not on the agenda. I talked to many talented women, but no plumbers or electricians. “Lean In feminism helps a particular subset of women with a degree of access and privilege, and leaves many women out of the conversation.

But it still has value. I was surprised at the racial diversity in the room on Saturday. A friend of mine lamented that she hadn’t been paired with a woman of color. She needs to talk about the tokenism and cultural incompetency at her lily white organization. Unable to find such mentors in her immediate surroundings, she’s looking further afield. Events like Saturday’s could help her make the connection she needs.

There isn’t one right way to do feminism. We have to tackle this giant from many different angles, and make connections across sectors. It’s not easy, but it’s work that’s worth doing. It’s what I love to do, and I hope to be great at it one day.

Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). Please share what you’ve been reading in the comments!

Before rolling into the links, I wanted to take a moment to say Happy International Women’s Day! Tomorrow, do something to make your world better. Attend the Equity and Race workshop hosted by Seattle Public Schools (details below), take time to listen to a girl in your life, thank a woman who supported you, or share how you will improve the world for women and girls. Bottom line? Celebrate!


Seattle Alliance of Black School Educators and Seattle Public Schools will host a workshop on racial equity in schools tomorrow at Cleveland High School (8:30-12:00). It’s free, so there’s no excuse not to go! Thanks to Education Lab Blog for sharing. Read More

LUNAFEST is coming! On April 15, see short films produced by women. Best part? LUNAFEST benefits Reel Grrls! Read More

Don’t miss Rain City Rock Camp for Girl’s annual all-ages benefit show, Shout Out! (March 16): Read More

Congratulations to all the finalists for the Road Map Project’s inaugural Road Map Project Awards: Read More


Go read everything at the Spark Movement‘s blog this week. Joneka Percentie writes abouts Black Women Create’s work to promote authentic portrayals of black women on screen, and Celeste Montaño calls on google to diversify its Google Doodle subjects. (From 2010 to 2013 64% of doodle-ees were white men.) If paperbacks are more your style, Anya Josephs recommends picking up a book by Tamora Pierce (who is AWESOME).

Interesting research came out! Girls Inc. released a study of the first two years of their Eureka! program. Another study revealed that Girls’ health care costs more than boys’ (from age 14 on). A final study suggests that girls’ brains are less susceptible to neurodevelopmental disorders than boys’. Woah!

And so much more about Barbie. A study suggests girls who play with Barbies have more limited career aspirations, but the new Lammily doll might be the replacement we’ve been looking for. In the meantime, consumer groups are not happy about the Girl Scouts partnership with Mattel.


Prepare for International Women’s Day with the Women and the Pathfinder/UN Women/Girls Not Brides “Girls Who Dare Tweetup” (Friday, 3/7 at 2pm EST): Read More