Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois – Entrepreneurs of the Future
The Girl Scout mission to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” is a tall order. It requires passion, dedication, a fierce belief in girls’ abilities, and of course, financial resources to support programming that nurtures these traits. The leaders and staff of Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois have the first three requirements in abundance; and thanks to YouthBridge Community Foundation, a grant awarded last year helped immensely in addressing the financial requirement.
According to Loretta Graham, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, support from YouthBridge has been instrumental to the agency’s operations and programs which, on an annual basis, impact the lives of over 5,000 girls who primarily live on the Illinois side of Greater St. Louis. The Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois office is based in Glen Carbon, just a few miles east of St. Louis. As a regional funder, YouthBridge remains dedicated to learning about and supporting youth-serving groups doing amazing work on both sides of the Mississippi River. It was with this lens that YouthBridge took an interest in Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois and reached out in 2022 to initiate a relationship. Loretta and her team were honored to host a YouthBridge representative to view their programs and facilities firsthand, and ultimately the organization was awarded a Youth Entrepreneurship Grant from an anonymous YouthBridge fundholder.
The four program pillars of Girl Scouts are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), the outdoors, life skills, and entrepreneurship. Appropriately, the Youth Entrepreneurship Grant was used to provide four resident camps at Camp Torqua this summer, the first in many years focusing on entrepreneurship. Thanks to the grant award, all aspects of camp were supported, including transportation, food, staffing, facilities, and more. While many of the 40 counties served by Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois are rural, East St. Louis and other urban areas are included. The camps were open to all regardless of zip code, age, ethnicity, or family situation. “We were able to do amazing work this summer thanks to YouthBridge and its generous donor. We provided opportunities for 31 girls who learned goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics,” explained Loretta.
Although the organization’s leaders had dreams of reaching a greater number of girls this past summer, they know that the 2023 camp experience was a critical first step in expanding future reach. Surveys delivered to campers confirmed its tremendous success:
- 99% felt that girls like them can do important things
- 97% reported believing that girls like them can be leaders
- 92% reported trying something new, even if it was hard
- 95% said they learned cooperation
- 95% felt more self-confident
It appears that the Girl Scout mission is well on its way to fruition in these girls, and YouthBridge was proud to be a partner in watering the seeds.
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