Every girl has a story, a unique background, and their own hardships to overcome—luckily, Girl Scouts provides an environment where girls can learn and grow. But, did you know that not all girls have access to traditional Girl Scout troops and not all troops are led by volunteers? With GSNorCal’s community-based programs, our staff members lead Girl Scout troops where girls need them most, such as under-resourced schools, juvenile detention centers, migrant family housing, and homeless shelters.

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s study, “The State of Girls 2017”, more girls are living in low-income households today than before the Great Recession, with 19 percent of girls ages 5-17 actually living in poverty. For girls in California, this trend is particularly bleak—almost a quarter of girls in California are living in households struggling with incomes below the poverty line.

In some communities, it’s difficult for parents to find the time to volunteer when they’re struggling to provide their families with the basic necessities. This is where Girl Scout community-based programs step in, establishing GSNorCal staff-led troops at local community centers and afterschool programs for girls to gather. But that’s not all: girls in these programs get a full year-long membership in Girl Scouts, so they can participate in any Girl Scout event, camp, workshop, and more! And when girls can’t afford these other events, they can also receive additional need-based financial aid to help power their Girl Scout experience.

GSNorCal Discover Together

To help you better understand the impact our community-based programs have, check out last year’s stats from our Discover Together, Daughters of Farm Workers, and Got Choices programs:

  • Discover Together delivered engaging, hands-on STEM and environmental science activities to 3,295 girls who did not otherwise have access to such experiences, sparking interest and confidence in the fields of science, engineering, and technology.
  • Daughters of Farm Workers helped empower 198 Latinas from migrant farm worker and agricultural communities to reach their full potential with summer day camp or afterschool programming featuring STEM activities, life skill lessons, outdoor fun, and field trips.
  • Got Choices touched the lives of 931 girls who were involved (or at risk for becoming involved) in the juvenile justice system, offering life skills education and leadership opportunities to help high-risk girls develop the healthy relationships and behaviors needed to break free from cycles of violence, abuse, and underachievement.

But the numbers don’t tell the whole story! Here are a few real-life stories on how our council’s community-based programs is changing girls’ lives:

Parker Elementary’s Story – Discover Together

Just like any volunteer-led troop, girls participating in Discover Together can join the cookie sale—a fantastic experience for the girls, linking skills in leadership, technology, and financial literacy. And the girls who participate tell us that they feel like “real Girl Scouts” and are proud that their efforts help raise revenue for the troop.

This year, the girls in the Discover Together program at Parker Elementary decided to use $189, the majority of their troop proceeds, to create care kits for homeless people in their community. The principal at their school was so touched by the girls’ desire to help others that he personally donated $189 to match the girls’ cookie profits so they could create even more care kits!

Parker Elementary Care Kits

Aileen’s Story – Daughters of Farm Workers

Last year, Aileen visited the Tech Museum in San Jose on a Daughters of Farm Workers field trip. She requires crutches to move around and can only be on her feet for short periods of time. At one of the stations, she typed in her name and watched in awe as a robotic arm spelled it out using wooden alphabet blocks! Aileen asked how the robotic arm knew how to select the right blocks. After answering her question, one of the Program Instructors told her that she could go to school to learn more about robots and how they work, and maybe even become an engineer herself. Aileen’s face lit up when she realized that, as an engineer, she wouldn’t need to stand and use her legs as much. In that moment, her vision of her own future expanded—she could do something really cool without having to worry about mobility!

D’s story – Got Choices

D was referred to Got Choices during her freshman year of high school after being expelled for fighting. She participated in Got Choices for over three years, attending weekly workshops and taking part in almost every leadership event and field trip that was offered. During her years in Got Choices, D stopped using drugs, learned how to resolve problems without getting physical, became involved in sports, and improved her grades.

Two years ago, D and her family became homeless, but that didn’t stop her from reaching the goals she set for herself—she continued to participate in Got Choices, play soccer, and work hard in school. With support from Got Choices, D graduated from high school and started community college classes at San Jose City College that fall!

Thanks to our hard working staff members and generous donors, these community-based programs continue to bring the beneficial lessons of Girl Scouts to thousands of girls and young women in Northern California. No matter the hardships they face, at GSNorCal, we believe that every girl deserves the opportunity to learn, dream big, and make the world a better place like a Girl Scout.

Interested in supporting these community-based programs? Make a difference and donate today.

Wende GuastamachioWende Guastamachio—Wende is a Grant Writer for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she is part of the team that raises funds to help GSNorCal bring Girl Scouting to “every girl, everywhere” through community-based programs, camperships to help families in need send their girls to camp, and much more! A Girl Scout herself, Wende is now looking forward to the day her granddaughters are old enough to join a Daisy troop and carry on the family tradition.

The Trailhead