Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). 


The most exciting piece of girl-justice news (local, national, or international!) is the release of “Girl Trends and Economic Opportunity: Career Trends and Regional Aspirations: What Girls See and What they Don’t.” I got take a sneak peak at the brief, and it is a fascinating look how girls think about careers, based on original research conducted in our region. Mega props to Ann Muno, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington Director of Advocacy, for spearheading this work.

There’s a lot to celebrate at Girl Scouts this week! 17 girls received their Gold Awards, the highest awards that Girl Scouts can earn. Check out their projects on the Girl Scouts blog.


Jules Spector, creator of Teen Feminist, shares “4 Reasons Why Teens Should be Exposed to Feminism.” Right on girl! Couldn’t agree more.

Youth can lose an entire grade level of learning during summer vacation, but only 1/3 of low-income youth have access to high quality summer learning programs. Youth Today reports that Michelle Obama wants to fix that, calling for more resources for summer learning programs. Hooray!


It’s world cup time! The U.S. is advancing to the elimination rounds. What does that have to do with girls? Thanks to Smart Girls at the Party for sharing “The Athlete” a ten minute documentary about a girls’ soccer league for Tibetan schools in India. If you’re already pumped for next year’s Women’s World Cup (and I know that I am!) check out the resources highlighted in “A Beautiful Game”A Mighty Girl’s celebration of soccer.

Rocio Ortega at Girl Up shares what she learned while visiting a refugee camp for Somali girls in Ethiopia. She urges more attention for the issues refugee girls face because “what’s more powerful than a refugee girl is an empowered refugee girl who knows her voice and will use it to change the world.”

And in New Zealand a new super hero is born: Dr Michelle Dickinson or “Nano Girl” will be presenting a TED talk about her nanotechnology research. Maybe Nano Girl and Data Girl should team up!


Direct Service or Something Else?

About 6 times a year, I have an existential crisis: Youth work is my vocation. When I imagine my dream job, it’s one where I can build strong, authentic relationships with youth–supporting youth as they solve problems, think about their futures, and reimagine their communities. I have another dream, too: One in which my community directs resources to youth and their needs, and respects their skills and opinions.

Trying to balance these two dreams leads to the repeated crisis. Do I spend my life in the trenches, or do I spend it with adults, changing how they interact with the youth in my community? I struggle. I flip flop. Is my work making business leaders, politicians, and bureaucrats better youth workers? Or is it being a youth worker myself?

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that this is not a question of “if” I retire from direct service, but “when.” Youth workers have a shelf life, and sometime between age 27 and 33 they pass their expiration date. Some of them transition into policy and management and do wonderful work. Some of them leave youth development for more lucrative career paths. When I leave direct service, it will be for some combination of these reasons.

I want to make a bigger impact.

It’s a classic feminist question: daily needs or systemic change? Someone needs to be working with youth today, right NOW. But someone also needs to change adults.

Once, in an interview for a direct service job, I was asked to describe, in one word, the biggest challenge facing girls. I said, without hesitating, “adults.” Adults underestimate what youth are capable of, adults fail to allocate resources to girls’ issues, adults run the systems that harm youth. I remember laughing and saying “adults might need youth development more than girls do.”

I want to live in Seattle. 

The second reason is not noble. I live in Seattle, one of the 10 most expensive cities in the country. When my mom bought a house in the late 70s in the neighborhood where I live today, the down payment was a little less than annual her teaching salary. If I wanted to buy a house in this neighborhood now, the down payment alone would be four times what I can make in a year as a youth worker.

I wish money didn’t play into my decision making, but it does. If I stay in direct service, I will struggle to live in Seattle, and, if prices continue to rise, I will have to leave. If I let others battle it out in the trenches, I might be able to scrape together a living. Managers, policy wonks, fundraisers… some of them do okay. But youth workers, well, they leave the field, get promoted to management, or leave the city.


When I griped about my crisis to a non-youth worker friend, he gave me the silliest and best answer I’ve heard: Start your own organization, and make both part of your job. I laughed it off, but he had a point. I will leave direct service at some point. I’ll want to make a bigger impact, or make more money, or both. I might not be calling the shots at my first big gig, but someday, I hope I will be.

So here’s what I’m thinking: Youth worker friends, we have a job to do. We’ll probably follow in the footsteps of the youth workers who went before. But when we climb up the food chain or shift into policy–or go corporate–we can change the job descriptions. We can re-arrange the budgets. We can create a different landscape for the next generation of youth workers. I know that’s naive and ridiculous, but so are most of the causes our youth take on. We don’t tell them they are naive and ridiculous. We ask “What’s your first step?”

So, youth workers: Let’s change how we value direct service. What’s our first step?

Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). 

This edition of the roundup is a little bit late. My apologies!!


Reel Grrls is looking for mentors for their summer programs. If you want to make a difference in girls’ lives, or beef up your youth work skills, take advantage of this great opportunity!

School’s Out Washington shares the recipients of their “Let’s Get Cooking” grant.


Great case study of using STEM and project-based learning to combat summer learning loss via Youth Today. 

NPR and ProPublica collaborated to produce a story on the dangerous effects of restraining kids in school. John Lash calls on schools to stop using forcible restraint and rely on positive behavior intervention.

Shannon Ridgway of Everyday Feminism reviews the Young Adult literature, and reveals that the trend toward more strong female protagonists does not include female protagonists of color. Ridgeway provides five reasons why it’s time for change.

Also at Everyday Feminism, Erin McKelle writes about 5 challenges young feminists face. Some of them comes from those outside the movement, but movement insiders also have steps to take to raise young feminists up. Let’s do it!!

Everybody (Girls Inc., Girl Scouts, Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling, Seventeen etc..) is getting behind google’s new initiative Made with Code that encourages girls to channel their creative energy into computer science. San Jose Mercury News runs down “Five things you should know” about the campaign.

The African American Policy Forum released a report on the challenges black girls face. Read it, and learn why we need to commit to the flight for an end to racism and poverty while working to empower girls.

Kudos to the YWCA NYC for hosting the Potential to Power Symposium. Love that the question “How can adult women better support girls?” was central to the discussion! Mehar Gujral and Katy Ma at the Spark Movement share their experience.


Care used Fathers’ Day as an opportunity to highlight their work with men and boys. The second question in their “Ask the Expert” video is mine. 🙂 Dedicated as I am to girls, we need folks to provide gender equity education to boys if we’re going to get anywhere. Not my area of expertise, but an area I’d like to learn more about.

Weekly Roundup

My weekly take on the news from the Girl Justice movement (locally, nationally, and internationally). 


Solid Ground came out against building a new youth prison, especially given that the old is rarely full. They argue the community should focus on alternatives to incarceration for youth, including restorative justice. YES!

Last chance to register for School’s Out Washington‘s Putting the Pieces Together conference on June 20!

Rain City Rock Camp for Girls launched Band of 200: The first 200 donors to give $200 join in welcoming 200 girls to camp each summer.

Youth In Focus is hiring! This amazing youth development org is looking for a Youth Outreach Coordinator and Teaching Artists to support their mission of empowering youth through photography.

Awesome interview at Geek Girl Con with the creators of I Am Elemental: a line of girl superhero action figures who are strong, reasonably proportioned, and conducive to “imaginative active play.” Entrepreneurship, heroic girls, and geekiness. I love it!


This is really interesting: Smart Girls at the Party has created an online “summer camp” for girls this July. I’m intrigued! What will they come up with? If it’s anything like their regular content, including this recent google hang out with 7th grade activist Haile Thomas, we’re in for a treat!

Ms. Magazine ran a ton of interesting stories last week. Natalie Wilson critiques Dream Works decision to fill How to Train Your Dragon 2 with white male protagonists and a dark-skinned villain. Margaret Nickens writes about the new LEGO mini-figs of female scientists (so long Friends!).

A Mighty Girl has a great post up with a rundown of Kickstarters dedicated to girl empowerment.

Alice Wilder at the Spark Movement writes a great piece contrasting the relationships in Twighlight and Parks and Recreation, and what they taught her about relationships and romance.

John Lash at Youth Today writes about how youth workers can help youth confront the history of racism and learn from it.


The Girl Effect asked 5 members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS) who attended the World Conference for Youth what they wanted their leaders to do to help girls thrive.

Girl Hub features two stories about efforts to support girls in Nigeria. First, Girl Hub released a new handbook designed to explain the situation that girls in Northern Nigeria face, and how change agents can make a difference. The second story recaps a panel of powerful women in Nigeria speaking about the importance of investing in girls.

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!


DO NOT MISS the Powerful Voices Girl Justice training. It is one of the best one-day professional development opportunities out there. The only excuse for not going this year is having gone in past years: Friday, June 13, 9-4, South Side Commons.

We have a $15 minimum wage law in Seattle! The Washington State Budget and Policy Center explains us why that’s important. If you’re less into graphs, Everyday Feminism posted a video by John Green that breaks it down manic-video style.

If you, too, want to make graphs about economic issues, apply for the Betty Jane Narver fellowship and you can join the graph making analysts and advocates at the WA State Budget and Policy Center (and I will be incredibly jealous of your insanely cool job). If you’d like to get an idea what they do, watch this video of their recent event on funding education.

School’s Out Washington is hiring! If you’re into youth program quality, this could be the job for you!


Girl justice on girl justice action! Girl Up profiles Girls on the Run (international). I love it!

Girls Inc. announced their 2014 National Scholars. Read about these incredible young women.

Need a “how to” guide to doing feminism? Erin Kelley at Everyday Feminism has six tips you can use, in your life or as a conversation starter for your youth.

The Girls Leadership Institute released a study on girls and bravery and an accompanying tool kit with article, book, music, TV, and music recommendations to inspire bravery.

“FGM does not only happen to girls in faraway places,” Jaha Dukureh writes about her campaign against Female Genital Mutilation in the U.S. Read her entire piece at Half the Sky.

Don’t miss this month’s issue of Ms. Magazine! It includes an interview with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


Pathfinder shared an interesting piece on how their gender and sexual health project GREAT (Gender Roles, Equity, and Transformation) is impacting adolescent parents in Uganda.

Girl Hub has a great piece on the economic impact of investing in girls. They released a study titled “Girls, Income, and Growth in Ethiopia” that “approaches its analysis from the perspective of the girl” while “adopting a more holistic view that considers how the challenges of adolescent girls are connected to boys and men, as well as to their opportunities when they become women.”

Really enjoyed Zuriel Oduwole’s piece in Chime for Change. 11-year-old Oduwole founded Dream Up, Speak up, Stand Up: a program promoting girls’ education in Nigeria, Malawi,Mauritius, and Tanzania.

Have a Nice Summer!

There are so many opportunities for youth and volunteers each summer. It can be hard to know where to start! I’ve picked a few of my favorites that you might want to explore, as a girl participant or a volunteer. Read on, reach out to these orgs, and gave a great summer!

Quest Camp, University Family YMCA
Youth entering grades 7-9
Every week from June 23 to August 29

Full disclosure, I run this one. But it is going to be so much fun! Every day we meet up in the U District, then head out on adventures all over the Puget Sound region. While we’re going to Wild Waves, painting murals, hiking, and rock climbing, we sneak in lots of team building, goal setting and FUN. The program is co-ed, but I will have girl justice top of mind. Come join me!

Reel Grrls
Female, transgender, or gender non-conforming youth
Every week from June 23 to August 15

Summer is BIG at Reel Grrls! They offer nine different programs including DSLR film making, animation, editing, and audio production. Many of their programs are already full for girls, so move quick to sign up or get on a waiting list. If you want to volunteer, put their excellent Mentor Camp on your calendar and apply to volunteer. It is a great experience!

You Grow Girl
Girls entering grades 4-8
Every week from June 23-August 29

You Grow Girl offers what might be the best deal in summer youth programs: $100 a week, $350 a month. Incredible! They offer fun programs for girls in North Seattle that include yoga, poetry, art, hip hop dance, skate boarding, and more. The program runs from 10-4, and they provide wrap-around care.

Girls Outdoor Leadership School (GOLD)
Girls grades 6-12 (and some co-ed programs)
1, 2, and 3 week expeditions, June through August

Gold offers amazing, empowering outdoor adventure trips and residential leadership camp experiences for girls. Spots are filling fast, so you need to get a move on, but there are still lots of trips available: River Rafting and Science? Poets and Peeks? Yoga and Backpacking on the Olympic Coast? Two weeks at Camp Orkila? It’s hard to beat GOLD for incredible outdoor experiences for girls.