Our Year

The Impact of Girl Scouting

Stephanie Foote

Stephanie Foote

A message from Girl Scouts of Colorado
President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Foote

When I get caught up in the business side of Girl Scouting — deep into the ins and outs of running a statewide nonprofit organization — I stop by our Outreach associates’ desks to hear their stories, and I am quickly reminded of the impact we make. 

“Outreach” is the name we’ve given to staff-led programming for the at-risk girls who need it most. Expansion of our Outreach program was a strategic goal in 2018, and I’m happy to say that with your help we have increased the number of girls served in these programs by 22percent throughout the state. In 2018, we expanded the Outreach program in Grand Junction and added programs in Colorado Springs, as well as increased the number of girls served through our Denver-based programs. 

We served 1,545 girls at 50 sites across the state in four programs: Focus on Abilities for girls with special needs, Girls are Great for girls entering middle school in low-resource communities, Discover All You Can Be for girls in low-income housing or attending low-resource schools, and Girls Looking Forward for girls in correctional facilities and treatment centers. 

The numbers are the framework for our goals, but the stories are the true impact of our work. 

Girls Looking Forward is delivered to a group of 8 to 10 girls living together in a juvenile correction facility. One day, one of the girls told the Girl Scout associate she was having a difficult day; a day where she could see she might behave in a way that would have resulted in disciplinary action. But, because she had Girl Scouts to look forward to, she was able to control her behavior.  Girl Scouts gives her something positive to focus on. In 2018, we started a Girls Looking Forward program in Grand Junction at a home for families experiencing homelessness. Attendance there is slowly growing as we build rapport. The girls who are attending are clearly impacted as these girls are waiting anxiously for our associates to arrive each week. Think about that: Middle-school aged at-risk girls anxiously awaiting the arrival of their Girl Scout troop leaders. 

Another Outreach program we provide is called Focus on Abilities and is for girls with special needs. Recently, a mother of an FOA participant told us she cried when she received her daughter’s Girl Scouts permission slip in her take-home folder. 

“My daughter gets a lot of paperwork sent home—medical forms, allergy forms, behavioral reports, the list goes on,” she said. “But this was the first time I ever opened that folder and saw something I consider normal. And now my daughter gets to be a Girl Scout and sell cookies and have a fun, a typical childhood experience that other families may take for granted.” 

Another Girl Scout at an FOA program told her school counselor she loves Girl Scouts because she’d never had friends before; never been invited to a sleepover. At Girl Scouts, she was included and had friends for the first time. 

These stories are just a few that illustrate the impact Girl Scouting has. New stories pop up daily at Outreach troop activities and in the thousands of volunteer-led troops across the state. The breakthroughs, the ah-ha moments sometimes are dramatic and sometimes barely noticeable – but they’re there.   

Our more than 7,000 volunteers see it in the girls they guide. The girl whose family doesn’t enjoy camping who sees a shooting star for the first time during a troop campout.  The girl who is so nervous to present her Bronze Award idea to a group of adults smile and high-five her Girl Scout sisters after she’s done it. (She doesn’t realize it yet, but her troop leader can literally see her confidence grow and imagine her in some future boardroom, courtroomor council chambers.) The girl who sees someone experiencing homelessness asks “what can we do to help?” The girls working on their Silver Award who get redirected by the organization they’re working with for the fifth time graciously reworking their plans and learning from their setbacks. 

Girl Scouts is a powerful, all-girl space that fosters collaboration over competition and instills an “I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine” mindset, where girls do great things. Girl Scouts is for every girl. 

With your help – our volunteers, donors, community partners – Girl Scouts is the backdrop for these stories. We’ve been preparing girls to lead for more than 100 years. In 2019, we continue to work toward bringing this experience to even more girls in our state and honoring their stories as they become girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. 

Thank you for embarking on this adventure with us.