How Cookies are Empowering a New Generation of Girl Scouts
March 26, 2019 .4 min read
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
You can find this exact quote on Girl Scouts’ Facts page, under their mission. That’s a pretty powerful statement to make.
Over the years, Girl Scouts has truly given young girls the ability to grow up fearlessly while also learning and developing life skills, therefore, creating a tremendous opportunity for young women everywhere.
This organization speaks volumes as it all began in the year 1912, during the progressive era, a time where women were not even permitted to vote in the United States. The first Girl Scouts development took place when Juliette Gordon Low, known as “Daisy" decided to host a small gathering of girls to share what she had learned while abroad about a new outdoor and educational program for the youth.
This small gathering sparked a movement, helping to redefine what was possible for girls everywhere. They played sports, hiked, swam, studied foreign languages, and most importantly they offered a helping hand.
Today, Girl Scouts is over 2.6 million members strong in 92 countries, including one specific individual, Kennedy Williams, a senior in high school, who has been a Girl Scout since the age of four. Kennedy has loved every second of being a part of this community and notes “What made me stick with Girl Scouts for so many years is the life skills I’ve learned."
But, everyone loves a good Girl Scout Cookie, right? Kennedy’s favorite cookie these days is the beloved Thin Mints®, and not to mention one of Girl Scouts’ biggest sellers.
While many correlate cookies to Girl Scouts, what many people fail to realize is that there’s so much more to the program than just cookies. What recently caught our eye about the organization is their financial literacy program. Girl Scouts quickly realized that financial literacy is a huge problem in the United States, and it starts with the lack of education for our youth.
Did you know that financial literacy is not a standard component of the K-12 education curriculum in the U.S.? Children are taught physics but not the lasting effect that bad credit can have on our lives.
To better understand girl’s financial literacy, the Girl Scout Research Institute conducted a nationwide survey with over 1,000 girls ages 8−17 and their parents.
The study, “Having it All: Girls and Financial Literacy (2013)", found:
94% of girls would rather make their own money than rely on their parents, and 80% would rather make their own money than marry someone who would support them financially.
The end result? The majority of this generation is empowered and confident, feeling that gender is no barrier to what they can achieve financially.
So how are Girl Scouts giving their girls the confidence to be financially independent?
This is where the cookies come into play; the program uses cookie sales to teach entrepreneurship, social responsibility, and financial literacy. Not only do they use the cookies as a tool for learning, but Girl Scouts also have 11 financial literacy badges that the girls can earn in addition to the cookie badge.
So how did Kennedy earn her financial literacy badge?
I earned my badge at the end of last year. We had a bank come in and teach us about student loans and student debt since we are all going to college soon. It was really helpful.
One of the biggest goals of Girl Scouts is making sure the girls are set up for their futures with the skills they need, and finance is one of them.
The cookie program that we all know and love also sets the girls up to create a plan of how to spend the money they’ve earned as a troop. They learn to save, spend, and the importance of charity. Girl Scout troops also set financial goals by deciding how many boxes to sell and by what date. Then, they go out and sell, sell, sell! They are learning that every dollar counts and that they worked hard for every cookie box that sold.
When it came to selling cookies, Kennedy learned some great life skills. "I learned a lot about budgeting," she explains.
My Girl Scout troop sits down in September and talks about what we want to do throughout the year, then we budget how much that will cost, and then figure out how many cookies we need to sell. We’ve done so many fun things with our cookie proceeds.
These money smarts last the girls an entire lifetime, helping them become strong, confident, successful women.
We also spoke to Mary Barneby, CEO at Girl Scouts of Connecticut, about how focusing on financial literacy has helped the girls.
Not only is it about financial literacy, but it’s about giving the girls confidence. We want to teach the girls at a young age that it’s not just about having the money, but it’s about having the confidence to feel in control of their money. And these girls are doing it for themselves.
Since the very beginning, Girl Scouts have always shared a sense of curiosity and belief that they could do anything they put their minds to. Today, Girl Scouts are still pushing boundaries and creating a world where girls can find the confidence they need to be successful at a young age.
At myWorth, we share the same passion as Girl Scouts about helping women, no matter what stage of life, in feeling confident and in control of their finances. We are so passionate about Girl Scouts’ mission to teach girls at a young age to feel that they don’t need to rely on anyone other than themselves to find the financial independence they deserve. This message of confidence is so vital for all young girls and will help change our future. We are so proud to spotlight this fantastic organization and everything they’ve done for girls around the world.
Are you looking to help Girl Scouts with more than just buying a few cookie boxes?
Girl Scouts is always actively seeking adults to raise their hands as volunteers. To volunteer as a troop leader, you don’t have to be the parent of a girl. They welcome adult women from all backgrounds, as well as men. They can provide support, training, and resources for you to succeed. They also welcome volunteers with special skills who might want to volunteer episodically. If you are an expert in finance, art, engineering, or any background, you could become a resource to deliver programs on occasion, help girls complete work on badges, take them camping, etc.
If you believe in the power of girls and want to make a difference in the life of a girl or girls, please visit www.girlscouts.org to learn how and where your talents can be put to good use.
Ande has made it her mission to break down the emotional, behavioral and societal barriers that stand between women and strong financial foundations.
She's widely recognized as a driving force in the financial community, having risen to the top of the primarily male-dominated insurance world as the former head of a multi-million-dollar fintech company and a VP at Penn Mutual.
Ande launched myWorth to inspire a financial awakening among women who are eager to take control of their financial journeys. Her first book will be published in October 2019.