Give BIG for Girl Justice!

Give BIG, the Seattle Foundation‘s annual online giving day, is coming up! On May 6, the Seattle Foundation will “stretch” donations made to local organizations through the Seattle Foundation website.

I’m sure you’re wondering where to invest the money you’ve carefully set aside each month for charitable giving. Or you can be motivated to impulse buy! Either way, you have a week to decide who to give to, and I want to encourage you to give to girl-serving organizations.

Why invest in girls?

The evidence is clear: When you invest in girls, you invest in the community. Need convincing? Watch this video and then imagine what kind of Girl Effect your dollars could have right here in the Puget Sound region:

Despite the recent uptick in interest in gender issues, organizations serving women and girls are still struggling to find funding. You can help by giving BIG for girls next Tuesday (and every day!).

What organizations should I give to? 

I considered calling this post “A Totally Unscientific Giving Guide” because I don’t have any criteria, I didn’t delve deep into financials, and I didn’t read annual reports. I simply asked myself “If I had $1000 to give for girls, where would it go?” The organizations below are the ones that would get a piece of that pie.

I realize they are by no means the only organizations worthy of donations. They aren’t even the only organizations I’ve given to this year. Use the comments to highlight the organizations you’re giving to on May 6. The more information and opinions the better!

UMBRELLA ORGANIZATIONS: Organizations that Strength the Field

Northwest Girls Coalition (NWGC)
Mission: The mission of the NWGC is to strengthen the girl-serving community by fostering education and collaboration in the Puget Sound region. We do this by building a knowledgeable, connected network of organizations and individuals who support girls
Why? We need a strong girl justice field where organizations collaborate to make the community better for girls. Also, I’m on their board.

Ed Lab Group
Mission: The mission of the EdLab Group is to leverage the power of technology and diversity to transform teaching and learning.
Why?  Ed Lab Group is home to the National Girls Collaborative Project, an innovative national collective of organizations working to get more girls into STEM careers. I love it!


Girls on the Run of Puget Sound
We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running
This organization serves a LOT of girls on a small budget by relying on a corps of stellar volunteers. I love their curriculum, and have enjoyed volunteering with them immensely.

Rain City Rock Camp For Girls
Mission: Dedicated to building positive self-esteem in girls and encouraging creative expression through music. Our music education programs provide girls with an opportunity to participate in an environment that fosters leadership, encourages social change, and cultivates a supportive community of female peers and mentors.
Why? I love the Portland Rock Camp for Girls TED Talk about why we need rock camp. I’m convinced! We do need rock camp!

Powerful Voices
MissionPowerful Voices fosters adolescent girls’ development by providing programs and promoting social justice so girls can realize their dreams, engage their communities, and shape a better world.
Why? Powerful Voices has played a vital role in the girl justice movement in Seattle for almost 20 years. They support girls as they become change makers. So cool.

Reel Grrls
Mission: Reel Grrls empowers young women from diverse communities to realize their power, talent and influence through media production. It is our mission to cultivate voice and leadership in girls at a vulnerable age by training them to produce films about issues that are important to them.
Giving to Reel Grrls mean supporting revolutionary feminist cat videos made by 8-year-olds. Need I say more? Reel Grrls is another place that I have loved volunteering.


I’m not an expert on independent schools, but I have worked with middle school girls fir almost a decade. I know how important all-girl environments can be. Seattle is lucky to have two all-girl middle schools: Seattle Girls School and Lake Washington Girls’ Middle School.

Seattle Girls’ School
Mission: Our Mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.

Lake Washington Girls’ Middle School
Mission: Lake Washington Girls Middle School prepares girls to be confident young women, strong in mind, body, and voice. Our school values diversity and promotes personal and social responsibility. Students, teachers, and families are active partners in creating a challenging academic environment, fostering independent thinking, and instilling a life long love of learning.


Mona Foundation
: The Mona Foundation is a nonprofit development agency dedicated to supporting grassroots educational initiatives that educate everyone with a focus on girls so that each individual can become an agent of change in the social and economic development of their own communities.
Why? I love how the Mona Foundation focuses on building local capacity for girls’ education, and calling out education as a critical part of social change. A+ international development model.


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!


The Girls on the Run 5k is coming up! Get read for tons of fun May 10th at 9:30 am at Magnuson Park. You can sign up to run the race or volunteer.

Seattle Girls’ School participated in the “No Ceilings” conversation with Hillary Clinton to talk about promoting girls in STEAM. That’s science, technology, engineering, ART and math!

Get ready for summer! Make your own media at one of Reel Grrls nine programs this summer.

If you’re looking for a summer job, the Boys and Girls Club is hiring summer staff for camps, sports, and drop in programs.

Save the date! School’s Out Washington will be presenting their Program Quality Standards at the Roadmap Project meeting on May 30.


The PACE Center for Girls, a program that works with girls who’s been involved in the criminal justice system, looks to expand its gender responsive programming outside of Florida.

Girls Inc. teams up with Lemonade Day and Google’s #40Forward campaign to train girls in entrepreneurship across the US and Canada.

Teen Feminist has a great post about the difference between criticism and hate online (and what to do about it).

Good news! More girls made it to the FIRST Lego League championship this year, and more girls are leaders on their teams.

Today is the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism, a day to unite to protest racial injustice. Find a participating organization and stand against racism in your community.


Mizune, a 14-year-old girl, is organizing the community in the refugee camp where she lives in Jordan. As a result, 70% of the youth in the camp are in school.

Going to prom this year? Upload a photo to Instagram with the #PromGirlUp and will donate $1 to Girl Up’s work to unite girls to change the world.

CARE kicks off #BelowTheLine on Monday, a challenge to see if you can spend less than $1.50 a day on food and drink for 5 days, raising awareness of global poverty.

Why I Care About Earth Day: Youth Development and the Environment

Each Earth Day I try to spend some time reflecting on how I’m living my life, and how it’s impacting the environment. I won’t bore you with the details of this year’s accounting, but I will admit that I need to make some changes. I could do a much better job of treading lightly on the planet.

My journey to environmental awareness was pretty direct. I grew up in Seattle, one of the most environmentally correct cities in the country. I assumed that everyone recycled and learned about the rain forest in second grade. I loved animals, and worried a lot about extinction. My environmental conscience was black and white: pollution bad, conservation good.

My freshman year in high school I attended a retreat at Camp Orkila for alumnae of the girls’ leadership camp I’d attended as a seventh grader (now Girls LEAD). It’s hard not to be moved by the beauty of the San Juan Islands (even in February), so when Dawn Wentworth, one of my past camp counselors, mentioned that she was running the Earth Service Corps program at the Metrocenter YMCA, I joined the club at my school the following week.

I learned so many things in Earth Service Corps: how to lead meeting, how to plan a service project, how to plan a summit, how to recruit new members (hint: snacks.) I also learned some lessons by screwing up: I learned how to be an inclusive leader by alienating another leader in the club. While I wish I’d never made that mistake, asking my friend why she’d stopped participating, realizing what I’d done, asking for forgiveness, and changing the way I led was one of the more important learning experiences of my high school career.

I also learned which environmental issues I personally wanted to impact. Trail work is a blast, but the issues that drew my attention were issues of environmental justice. I began to ask myself who was shouldering the burden when I flipped on the lights, or threw away a paper cup. Conservation and pollution were still important to me, but the disproportionate distribution of costs (mostly born by poor communities of color) became the primary issue in my mind.

Perhaps the most valuable lessons I learned in Earth Service Corps I learned from youth leaders at other schools. I grew up in a wealthy neighborhood in North Seattle, and most of the kids in my advanced placement classes were from similar backgrounds. As part of the Youth Advisory Council, I met with youth from schools all over the district, and it opened my eyes. There was so much more to the city than the sliver I knew well.

Interacting with youth I would not have met otherwise made me realize why we need youth development programs: with schools and neighborhoods increasingly segregated, youth development programs can still bridge class, race, and neighborhood divides. Building connections among youth is critical to building community, and creating innovative, effective solutions to environmental challenges.

When I graduated from high school ten years ago, the Earth Service Corps club at my school had grown from 4 students to over twenty. My co-leaders and I made green cords for graduating Earth Service Corps members to wear with our robes. I still have my green cord, and it reminds me of how I want to impact the earth. I still have a lot of work to do, but thanks to Earth Service Corps, I have the tools to make a difference.

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!


Katherine Ball, an awesome young woman, is profiled all over the internet for her groundbreaking research and community education campaign on plastics in puget sound. You can read about her in the Everett Herald and on the Girls Scouts of Western Washington blog. She earned the Girl Scouts Gold Award for her work, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Congrats Katherine!!

Speaking of awesome young women doing awesome things, Sierra Anderson and Hannah Banks made a video of girls speaking out about media and body image for their senior project.

Looking for an awesome job?

If volunteer work is more up your ally, perhaps you should propose a panel for Geek Girl Con!


Celebrate Earth Day with a girl in your life! April 22 is a great day to remember girls and women who inspire us to take action. A Mighty Girl recommends books and movies to mark the occasion and learn more.

Soraya Chemaly re-posted her story Teen Girls: Depression? Really? How About Anger and Powerlessness?” in response to Katy Klay and Claire Shipman’s piece “The Confidence Gap”. Good reminder that these issues are the result of sexism and patriarchy, and not cured by individual action alone. 

Want to fight back against the sexualization of girls? Join the SPARK team! I would totally do it (if they would have me), but I’m too old. Girls age 13-22! Live my dream for me!! If you want to get an idea of what they are all about, read Kimberly Belmonte’s piece on sexualization of girls in teen magazines while you’re there.


Rocio Ortega of Girl Up profiles Fautima, a girl leader she met at the Aw-barre refuge camp in Ethiopia.

Dee Putri wrote an interesting piece on Waria (assigned-male-at-birth transgender people) in Indonesia, and the struggles that they face.

Girls Speak Out About Body Image

By Hannah Banks and Sierra Anderson, Nathan Hale High School Seniors

When Hannah and I were searching for our topic for our high school senior culminating project, we were astounded by some of the alarming facts that we were coming across about the pressures girls feel in their lives. I had earlier written a paper about the effects of media on girl as well as body image, and so we thought that we could explore those ideas further. Producing this video, Hannah and I decided to let the community know what girls really deal with.

We first sat down with these courageous girls, and had an open discussion about the pressures, challenges, and issues they have had with body image through out their lives. Then we interviewed the girls (with their kind permissions), recording their ideas and views, to make their points even clearer. Our hope is that the community will thereby better understand that there is a problem with our culture, especially with the way that we look at a girls’ body — that most every girl deals with issues about the way she looks, and that looks are not the most important thing. If we each listen to these girls, and just change our own mindsets, perhaps this would not be such a huge problem!

Thank you from Sierra and Hannah, and we hope you find the discussion by these girls as enlightening and deeply inspiring as we did.

Note from Alison: It was a real pleasure working with Sierra and Hannah on their Senior Project! I am extremely proud to share their video on this site. I feel honored to share girls’ voices. As a Hale alum, I even more thrilled to show what Hale students can do. Go Raiders and good luck to Sierra and Hannah as they finish out their senior year!

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!


Youth Today features a story about Powerful Voice’s Girlvoution! Read it, then attend SATURDAY APRIL 12! And if you want to make future Powerful Voices events wonderful, you can apply to intern/Americorps with them!

You can now get a BA in Youth Development at Highline College. School’s Out Washington shares the exciting details. SOWA also shared updates about the fabulous accomplishments of the Afterschool Matters Fellows (including Ann Muno, whose accomplishments were profiled last week) and preventing summer learning loss.

It is time to sign up to be Running Buddy for Girls on the Run! There is an urgent need for 150 more running buddies by Monday 4/14/2014. You don’t have to run fast, you just have to be willing to hop, skip, and jump three miles with an awesome girls.

Girl Scouts of Western Washington will get 15% from online orders at Pet Hub this month. I know my dog could use some new chew toys.

And, in honor of National Volunteer Week, the Breezie O’Neill’s case study rounded out the Working with College Volunteer series. To get caught up, check out part 1, part 2, and part 3.



Samsung is teaming up with the Boys and Girls Club to create new Tween Tech Centers at 20 clubs.

Women in Sports in a particular side interest of mine, so I was excited to see the online museum of women in sports curated by Google and The National Women’s History Museum.

A new report reveals that we have a lot more work to counter discrimination against LGBT youth. 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, and LGBT youth are twice as likely to be convicted of “status crimes.”

Young women in Illionoise speak out against sexist dress codes, demanding that boys take responsibility for their own behavior. My favorite quote: “Are my pants lowering your text scores?” You go girls!


The Girl Effect puts an international twist on the “Ban Bossy” campaign.

Last but not least, this week was National Volunteer week. THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS! You make this work possible.


Working With College Volunteers Part 4: Breezie O’Neill on Campus Girl Scouts

BreezieHi, my name is Breezie and I am a compulsive volunteer.

If you are anything like me complex social issues don’t make you want to pull the covers over your head and hide. Rather, you instinctively know that we have the collective power to make change in our lives and in our interconnected communities. You have a gut feeling that solutions are out there waiting to be discovered.

As a Community Development Manager for Girl Scouts of Western Washington the source of my passion is connecting people with opportunities to make our world a better place. We promote girl-led leadership and volunteers are absolutely vital to the organization. I am always on the lookout for innovative solutions and college campuses are full of them. With the correct preparation and planning nonprofits can successfully tap into the vibrant community of students who are interested in plugging into your cause. To show you what I mean I’d like to share an example of a successful college engagement project and why it worked: Campus Girl Scouts.

Igniting the passion of Girl Scout alumnae and girl advocates, Campus Girl Scout clubs consist of college-age men and women who may or may not have children or an established connection to Girl Scouting.

Clubs can take whatever path members design, whether it’s hosting on-campus Girl Scout events, helping local troops, designing programming, or all of the above. Participation allows for creativity, community involvement, mentorship, and most importantly, building girls of confidence, courage, and character who make the world a better place!

What I did and why it worked

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Clearly identify a need students can tackle. Before you approach colleges know exactly what you need from them and what you can offer in return. Make it easy for students to help by anticipating questions and barriers. Focus on why there is a need and leave room for students to come up with the solution.

Campus Girl Scout Clubs meet our need for additional programming, support for troop development, and girl mentorship. In return we offer behind the scenes access to nonprofit work, letters of recommendation, internships, training, and more.

Leverage existing networks. Fortunately, I am an alumna of three local colleges/universities. I started by talking to faculty who I had worked with in the past. Don’t know anyone at the college? If someone in your network has connections ask them to introduce you to relevant departments/faculty. If that doesn’t work introduce yourself to the department that organizes student engagement such as Campus Life, Service Immersion, or Service-Learning.

Earning faculty buy-in of your project before you reach out to students is beneficial because you will have a champion with access to university resources to help get the project off the ground. Our Campus Girl Scout champion connected me to other staff who are passionate about our mission. She also sent out all-campus emails to help recruit students and promoted the project behind the scenes.

Offer clarity, guidance, and coaching. We are all busy but students have unique constraints that nonprofits should keep in mind. Most students are juggling multiple projects, assignments, timelines, and schedules. Chances are they are passionate about your cause and want to give you a lot but may not have realistic time management expectations. By knowing exactly what you need, what time and resources it will require, and the skills a person needs to accomplish the project you will save yourself a big headache later.

When launching Campus Girl Scouts I made sure to lay out the expectations clearly and in writing. We followed up with on-campus training opportunities and connected club members to multiple staff and volunteers who could provide guidance. Coaching is a great benefit to students who may just be starting out on their career path.

Celebrate success! If a student-led meeting goes well let the facilitator know that you noticed. If a client has a positive interaction with a college volunteer let them know! Take pictures of students in action and encourage them to post it on social media. Know your volunteers and how they like to be recognized and remember to enjoy the short time we have together.

Campus Girl Scout clubs are now popping up at several colleges and universities in the Northwest and their impact is vast. They’ve mentored girls, helped build new troops, hosted on-campus events, organized a screening of the powerful film ‘Girl Rising’, become camp facilitators and so much more. Their fresh energy and perspective greatly impacts our staff, volunteers and girls. Build your college engagement project today then step back and watch it grow!

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!


It’s been a super busy week for local girls’ and youth organizations!

Girl Scouts are leading the charge in Snohomish County to provide relief and support to families affected by the Oso mudslide. If you’d like to help, read on for information on how to volunteer or donate.

The Washington State Budget and Policy CenterKids Count, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a report on how WA states kids are faring. African American, Native American, and Latino kids are faring far worse than white and Asian American kids. The report includes recommendations to address the issue. School’s Out Washington shared their recommendations for how the out of school community can contribute.

Girl on the Run of Puget Sound announced an amazing new partnership with Sounders Women. Soccer, running, and girl justice. What could be better? They are also still looking for running buddies, so it you want a great volunteer gig, go sign up.

Geek Girl Con released April’s Geek About Town, their monthly calendar or delightfully geeky events. I’m especially interested in Arts Corps’ Youth Speak Grand Slam on April 11 and LunaFest, a partnership between Luna Bars and Reel Grrls, on April 15.

And don’t miss Girlvolution on April 12! Powerful Voices will again be hosting their girl-created, day-long extravaganza of workshops.

Last but not least, The Boys and Girls Club is looking for youth development staff. They have several positions available.


Ann Muno, Director of Advocacy at Girl Scouts of Western Washington, wrote an Op Ed for Youth Today about economic security for girls. While Ann is a local girl, I’m calling this naitonal news because it is such a big deal. If you haven’t yet, you should read her article on blending youth development and girl specific practices. A.MA.ZING.

Smart Girls at the Party was nominated for a Shorty Award for their awesome social media promotion of changing the world by being yourself. Congratulations!


Johnson and Johnson is jumping into the girl justice arena, teaming up with Women Deliver for a new campaign: Invest in girls and women: EVERYBODY WINS. 

Njideka U. Keda wrote a piece for HuffPo about the Young Girls Science and Health Tele-Academy, an innovative program in Nigeria that teaching youth STEM skills by engaging them in social change projects. Sounds a little bit like YTECH and Puget Sound Off.

Working with College Volunteers Part 3: Keep Them Coming Back!

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Once you’ve planned a great project, found the perfect volunteers, and gotten them hooked on your organization, you want to keep them! It takes a lot of work to engage new people in your work. It always takes more work to recruit new “business” than to keep the business that you have. Be careful though! If you take your existing volunteers for granted, you will have to start all over again.

1. Build Community
If you’ve designed a project where volunteers work in groups, you are halfway there! We talked about the value of group projects in part 1 (social needs, peer pressure, and someone to pick up the slack). However, if you can turn your group into a community, you will really have a solid corps of volunteers.

2. Reflect
At the end of the project, don’t just say “thanks”, give a little wave, and send your valuable volunteers off into the world. I know you’re tired and ready to kick your feet up, but a “thank you” really isn’t enough. Take a moment to reflect and debrief. You will get valuable information about how the project went, and what could go differently, and the volunteers will get to process their experience.

Saying “Thanks” will build an external motivation for volunteers to come back, but reflection will help volunteers leave with the internal motivation to do it again and again. Connect the project back to the bigger cause (yet again) so they walk away feeling good about the impact they made. Asking for their feedback will show them that you take them seriously. Reflection will solidify in their brains that they made a difference, and that you respect their opinions, time, and contribution.

3. Re-Engage!!
Do not let them walk away! Yeah, they’ve finished, and we’re all so happy for them, but DO NOT let them leave without another opportunity to volunteer. Without another project on the horizon, they will likely toddle off into the arms of the next exciting opportunity. You will never re-engage 100% of your volunteers, but if your volunteers had a good experience they are likely to re-engage and bring their friends, creating the sustainable corps of talented, creative young people you’ve always dreamed of.

Begin with the end in mind: Before the project even begins, have that next project lined up and ready to go. Ask yourself: What’s the next step for these volunteers as they deepen their relationship with your organization? Will you ask the standouts to join your board? Is there a weekly opportunity (since they’ve rocked the once a month thing)? Do you need folks for your gala planning committee? If you have to hand them off to another volunteer manager, make sure the handoff is prepped and seamless for the volunteer.

One caveat: It’s an invitation, not a demand. They didn’t sign up to volunteer for you until retirement. Be sure you explain it as “You were so wonderful, and you had such a HUGE IMPACT, we wanted to let you know about other ways to put your amazing skills to work to make the world a better place.” Make it sound like a reward, not an obligation.

That’s the last of my tips for working with college volunteers. Thank you so much for reading! But don’t go away, because next week (National Volunteer Week) brings us the best piece of all! Breezie O’Neil, Community Development Manager at Girl Scouts of Western Washington, will cut through the theory and bring us a report from the field. I got a sneak peek, and it is a great read!