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July 24, 2014
Maintain. Sustain. Attain.
The Girl Scout Movement is more than 100 years old! That sort of longevity does not happen by accident. It requires a dedication to sustainability which generally means utilizing resources wisely. For non-profit organizations sustainability involves more than cutting costs and leveraging resources; it requires maintaining clear direction towards a vision, engaging passionate champions, and diversifying fundraising efforts. These are three of the vital components that have made Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles the largest non-profit organization in Southern California serving girls.
Keeping the Girl Scout mission top of mind is key in achieving any organizational goal and all that we accomplish. Without a vision for the future, it is easy to lose momentum and focus. Every day, there is a new headline about another non profit losing its way or being absorbed into a larger organization. Without strategic clarity and implementation, vision remains merely theoretical. The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Board of Directors drives and oversees our strategic plan using their governance expertise. Every year our senior management works together to set annual goals to support the five year plan and strategy. We focus on enhancing the delivery of our programs, developing our volunteers, assuring financial stability, building philanthropic support, and communicating consistent marketing and branding messages-- all to support the delivery of our mission. With vision and clear direction we strive to improve our service to our membership year after year.
Every successful non-profit knows that passionate champions are its greatest resource. Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles’ dedicated staff, Board of Directors, and passionate volunteers serve more than 40,000 Girl Scouts in grades K-12 throughout Los Angeles County and parts of San Bernardino, Ventura, and Kern counties. Our staff are more than just employees; they are professionals who are committed to building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Our board is an engaged group of community leaders who provide their leadership and support. Our volunteers are motivated Girl Scout experts who are critical to our mission because they deliver the majority of programming to girls in a safe environment with positive role models. Connecting staff and volunteers with girls provides the next generation of leaders with mentors and experiences that allow girls to discover themselves, connect with others and take action to make the world a better place.. Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles continuously and actively seeks volunteers to support our efforts.
Financial landscapes change and shift in unpredictable ways. Since the 1912 founding of Girl Scouts of the USA, the United States has endured through The Great Depression of the 1930’s, Recession of the 1980’s, and the recession that began in 2008. When the economy is uncertain, people and companies alike tighten their belts. As a result, philanthropic giving tends to decrease. At the same time, the need for social services soars and demand on non-profits increases. As many non-profits that rely heavily on one fundraising source (like government grants or corporate sponsorships) have learned in recent years, diversifying support is crucial to financial stability. Innovative fundraising techniques, such as giving circles, can also help to address financial challenges. Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles leverages its relationships with individuals, foundations, and corporations to ensure that we can successfully provide programming and fulfill our responsibilities to our girls.
Throughout our 102 year history we have been a constant for our girls. And as we move forward, we will continue to align our vision, our strategy, our goals and our resources so that our girls of today and tomorrow can attain bright futures. Maintaining sustainability means that Girl Scouts can continue its good works, continuing our long history of inspiring girls to be their best, achieve their dreams, and make their mark on the world.
What plans do you put into action to achieve your goals?
June 19, 2014
Give. And. Receive.
I am a strong believer that everyone has something to contribute to make our world a better place. Whether it’s your talent, experience, perspective, or passion, everyone has something to offer.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of witnessing 343 Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, ages 14 to 18, receive their Gold Award. The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. It is earned by girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership, inspire, and lead by example. Channeling their passion and interests, these Girl Scouts developed and executed large-scale and long-lasting community action projects that required a minimum of 80 hours of service, with most contributing many more.
This year, Gold Award projects tackled some of the greatest challenges that our society faces today. Collectively, the 2014 Gold Awardees provided more than 27,000 hours of leadership, advocacy, and service right here in Greater Los Angeles. Their efforts have made a huge impact in their local, national, and international communities. Gold Award Girl Scouts are paving the way for positive change and helping the Girl Scout Movement achieve its mission of making the world a better place.
The amazing thing about contributing is that often the person giving of themselves receives more than they expect (or even realize) in return. Several studies have shown that volunteerism can have a positive effect on your health. Giving of your time and talent can help combat depression, increase lifespan, decrease stress, and lower blood pressure among other benefits. Some of the intangible rewards of being of service include a sense of connection, accomplishment, and gratitude, which also happen to be key components of being happy. Coincidence? I think not. When you help others, you make a difference that impacts your environment and the people around you, which in turn makes a difference in your life. In giving of yourself, you give to yourself.
What have you contributed to your community, your world? And how did that make you feel?
May 22, 2014
Root. STEM. Bloom.
While new and exhilarating experiences can be daunting at first, overcoming initial hesitations can help girls gain the confidence to try new things. Girl Scouts is dedicated to inspiring girls to branch out into unexplored territory by encouraging them to find the courage to step out of their comfort zone. In the supportive environment of Girl Scouts, many girls face challenges like performing in front of an audience, horseback riding, and running a business for the first time.
Girl Scouts believes in opening doors for girls to possibilities that may have once seemed out of reach. In 2012, the Girl Scout Research Institute looked into several STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) related issues including the underrepresentation of women in these fields; women hold 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics; and only about 25% of STEM career positions are held by women.
The research also showed the benefits of STEM education. Compared to their counterparts, girls who engage in STEM activities have higher confidence in their academic abilities, set higher goals for themselves, and are more inclined to overcome obstacles. With these discoveries in mind, Girl Scouts is addressing ways to successfully engage girls in STEM so that they can see it as a potential path for their future.
“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind:
Study the science of art. Study the art of science.
Develop your senses- especially learn how to see.
Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
-- Leonardo da Vinci
Launching a rocket or building a robot might seem overwhelming, but hundreds of Girl Scouts in the greater Los Angeles area are discovering that they are up to the task. With its strong history in providing enriching STEM programs for girls, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA) currently has 15 sponsored FIRST Lego League robotics teams.
Girl Scouts has remained relevant for more than 100 years for one simple reason: Our organization listens to and moves at the speed of girls. We evolve and adjust our programming according to girls’ most current and pressing needs and interests. Girls tell us that they want to gain more STEM skills, but that there are barriers holding them back—81% of girls are interested in STEM, but only 13% say it’s their first career choice. In response to this growing desire to discover that STEM passion and confidence, GSGLA hosts a variety of hands-on STEM programs, including an introductory rocketry program where hundreds of Girl Scouts build and launch rockets at the Santa Fe Dam.
And with the help of these programs, Girl Scouts are breaking new barriers. After months of designing, building, and launching homemade model rockets, Girl Scout Troop 3531 from the San Gabriel Valley were invited to compete in the national finals of the prestigious Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) on May 10 in Washington, D.C., making them the first-ever Girl Scout troop to make it to the competition in its 12-year history. TARC is the world's largest rocket contest for high school and middle school students. Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the National Association of Rocketry, and NASA, it is a key piece of the aerospace industry's strategy to build a stronger U.S. workforce in science and technology.
Our ongoing evolution has led GSGLA to expand our STEM program to STEAM. STEAM combines STEM with elements of art and design; find out more about this education movement here. The intention behind adding a creative component to STEM is to connect access points across disciplines in order to inspire creativity and spur innovation. Rooted in a tradition of being untraditional, our goal is to help girls grow and blossom.
How are you encouraging girls to reach outside of their comfort zone and discover new skills and interests?
April 24, 2014
Leaving. A. Legacy.
Different stages of our lives present different questions about who we are and how we are seen by our peers, family, and the world as a whole. When we enter our careers: “What will I be known for?” When we have children: “What will they learn from me?” And as we get older, there is a shift in our concerns which usually coincides with the arrival of the next generation: “How will I be remembered?”
The decisions we make in our lives continue to have an impact after we’ve passed away. It is this realization that reminds us of the weight of our responsibilities and the importance of our legacy. As the late Paul Tsongas once said, “We are a continuum. Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values, so we, as guardians of that legacy, must reach ahead to our children and their children. And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.”
April has been designated Planned Giving month at Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. Including Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles in your estate can ensure that Girls Scouts is available for the next generation of girls. I am proud to have made an inaugural gift in 2013 and even prouder to be joined in the Juliette Gordon Low Planned Giving Society by Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Board members, staff, and 100% of my executive team. You could help make the Girl Scout leadership experience available to all girls and prepare them to make healthy, values-based decisions as they prepare for the challenges and opportunities awaiting them. Discover the ways you can give and learn how simple it can be to implement. Click here for more information.
What do you want to be remembered for? What will your legacy be?
April 22, 2014
I. Appreciate. You.
Thank you for all that you do to build tomorrow's leaders!
March 19, 2014
Choose. Your. Words. Wisely.
Throughout our lives we are taught that words are powerful. Words have the ability to change how we feel, how we see ourselves, and how we interact with the world. They can even change lives.
For instance, when adults encourage children who are upset with the phrase “Use your words”, they learn that empowerment over frustration can be found through verbal expression. When kids ask for something, and in return are asked “What’s the magic word?”, they learn that words can be the conduit for their needs and desires being met. As we grow up, we continue to receive reminders of these early life lessons with sayings like “Choose your words wisely”. While the examples I’ve mentioned are methods of positive reinforcement, the power of words is a two-sided coin.
In our lifetime, we also encounter the insidious nature of words -- from playground taunts and name calling to gossip and negative self-talk. But what are the undesirable effects of the words we choose? Girl Scouts has partnered with LeanIn.org to explore this question with regards to a specific word, “bossy,” and its impact on female leadership. From a young age, girls who speak up, assert themselves, and take charge might be told that they are bossy. Unfortunately, what we are finding is that while boys asserting assertive behavior are called leaders, girls are often called bossy. Or the other b-word…
Ultimately, girls are twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles will make them seem “bossy” (Girl Scouts Research Institute). Instead of being encouraged to hone their leadership skills, girls are told to put down their hands and take a step back. To keep quiet. To wait their turn. The impact of this seemingly simple yet powerful word is leaving girls feeling powerless. By the time girls reach middle school, they are 25% less likely than boys to say that they like taking the lead (Sloan Study of youth and Social Development).
The Ban Bossy public service campaign aims to draw attention to the messages we are sending our girls about what it means to be a leader and the words we use like bossy that keep girls from feeling supported in their efforts to lead the way and blaze trails.
Have you ever been called bossy, or have you ever called someone bossy? Do you think that one word can make a difference?
March 12, 2014
Remembering. Our. History.
Every year on March 12, Girl Scouts from around the nation commemorate the day when Juliette Gordon Low officially launched her dream by gathering the first 18 girl members for the organization’s inaugural meeting in Savannah, Georgia. In that moment, Juliette realized her dream by creating a Movement that fosters an environment where girls feel empowered in their own lives and are equipped to better the world around them.
Yet, Girl Scout Birthday is more than songs and cake. It’s also about honoring our founder, reflecting on the impact of her vision, and imagining our role in shaping the future for girls everywhere..
Troops, girls, and alumnae not only meet to celebrate but also find ways to perpetuate the values of Girl Scouts often with acts of generosity through community service. In the early 1960’s, Girl Scouts across the U.S. planted yellow floribunda roses and dwarf marigolds along highways, at schools, in parks and other public spaces as a “birthday gift” to the nation. Over the last few years, Girl Scout troops in Massachusetts have gathered to collect ingredients and baking supplies for a “birthday box” to be donated to a local food bank. Girls bring cake pans, cake mix, frosting, candles and cake decorations in order to provide a family with everything they would need to make a birthday cake, ensuring that even those who may not have the means will not go without their own celebratory treats on their special day.
More than 100 years after the birth of our Movement, Girl Scouts is committed to its mission and continues to instill self-reliance, encourage exploration, and inspire girls to make the world a better place.
Aren’t you proud to be a contributor?
February 20, 2014
Open. Door. Policy.
Every year on February 22, Girl Scouts around the country and Girl Guides around the world celebrate World Thinking Day. The theme for 2014 is: "Education opens doors for all girls and boys!”
We all agree that education, formal and informal, helps us understand the world around us and is the key to being a successful, contributing member of society. Many of us have seen the inspiring documentary “Girl Rising” which profiles the transformational effect of education for girls, many of whom grow up in underserved countries. Fortunately, experiential opportunities provided by organizations such as Girl Scouts play an integral role in an informal education for youth, and – as this year’s World Thinking Day theme showcases – Girl Scouts also plays an important role in encouraging formal education. I’m so proud to be associated with this Movement, which advances opportunities and successes every day.
According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s Alumnae Impact Study, 77% of American girls who participated in Girl Scouting attended college at a higher rate than those who did not. Additionally, the longer girls remained active in Girl Scouts, the more likely they were to obtain an undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree; alumnae with six or more years of Girl Scouting experience earned these degrees 20% more often than non-alumnae. The result is that programs and experiences in Girl Scouts can inspire the potential in every girl and the confidence to pursue her dreams.
Education can open doors beyond our national perspective. Part of what makes World Thinking Day so special is the sense of global connectivity we impart to girls. Honoring international friendships with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts directly reflects The Girl Scout Law. The best way to teach our girls to “be a sister to every Girl Scout” is by helping them understand how different girls live around the world. This is an opportunity for girls to discover new Girl Guide and Girl Scout traditions and explore different cultures—from their languages and food to art and customs. As we become a global society, our youth needs the preparation and confidence to show up in a new, global manner.
This year on World Thinking Day over 10 million girls and adults in 145 countries will be encouraged to make a personal commitment to change the world around us – particularly focusing on educational pursuits. By participating in activities, learning about and taking action on important issues, and celebrating international friendships, girls will learn more about their role in the global community and how they can make the world a better place. Because without a solid understanding of the world and their part in it, how can girls be expected to make a significant and long-lasting impact?
How are you inspiring youth and encouraging education? What’s your “open door policy?”
Lise L. Luttgens
Chief Executive Officer,
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles
Learn more about our CEO here.