NYC Girl Scouts on Path to Entrepreneurship

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New Girls Scouts of Greater NY Initiative, in Partnership with Barnard College’s Athena Center, Gives Girls Unique Chance to Craft, Pitch Business Plans for Socially Responsible Start-ups


New York, NY – Beginning this summer, fifty-one Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 from across the five boroughs, many from low-income communities, will have a unique opportunity to develop ideas for socially responsible businesses and have them evaluated by some of New York’s best and brightest women.  The Girl Scouts of Greater New York’s (GSGNY) Girl Scout Leadership Institute New York (GSLI-NYC), a partnership with Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies, will begin with a 10-day Summer Intensive at the Girl Scouts’ Camp in Dutchess County and on the Barnard campus in July, and continue throughout the 2013-14 school year.

During the Summer Intensive, participants will work together in small teams on their business ideas, and will gain critical problem-solving skills as marketers, storytellers, public speakers and first-time entrepreneurs.  The GSLI-NYC summer program will offer workshops taught by successful entrepreneurs on topics ranging from “Developing a Business Idea” to “Getting Funded,” and will include site visits to start-ups throughout New York. The Intensive will culminate in a Pitchfest on Thursday, July 18, during which each girl will have five minutes to sell her idea to a panel of established entrepreneurs and fellow students as well as leaders representing Barnard and the Girl Scouts.

Workshop instructors will include: Rachel Braun Scherl, co-founder of SPARK Solutions for Growth, Vanessa Hurst, data-focused technologist turned social entrepreneur and the founder of CodeMontage, Grace Ng, entrepreneur, designer, and Co-Founder of Lean Startup Machine, Broadway actress Elise Hernandez (In the Heights).  Pitch panelists will include: Jovanka Ciares, creator of the Clean Foods Diet Method, Dede Lahman, co-owner of the Clinton Street Baking Co., and jewelry designer Alex Woo.


A complete list of events, instructors and Pitchfest panelists is available at

The Summer Intensive program features an Entrepreneurial program from Barnard’s flagship Pre-College Program, “Entrepreneurs-in-Training,” which was designed by Nathalie Molina Niño, a consultant to the Athena Center, who is spearheading entrepreneurial strategy, and customized with the Girl Scouts of Greater New York.

“For young women to succeed in entrepreneurial ventures, they need to learn differently and be encouraged to use their creativity and talents, whatever their ideas might be, because women have skills that may be different from the ‘norm’ of the business world,” said Ann Dachs ’81, director of Barnard’s Pre-College Programs.

“A gender leadership gap continues to persist, and there is an urgent need for action to close it. To ensure that women can advance, we believe that intervention must begin early in a girl’s life,” said Barbara Murphy-Warrington, Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. “With GSLI-NYC, we are taking a major step towards realizing that potential. The impact this Institute will have on the lives of these fifty-one young women reflects our commitment to reshape the leadership landscape for today’s girls, and to ensure that they receive the support and encouragement they need to make a difference in their communities and the world.” GSLI-NYC is a programmatic initiative which is part of a larger strategic plan for GSGNY focusing on closing the leadership gap for girls and women and to expand its service from 28,000 to 60,000 girls.


Kathryn Kolbert, the Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director of Barnard College’s Athena Center, said, “We are thrilled to launch these dynamic entrepreneurship programs for teenage girls. The program will cultivate girls’ ability to follow their dreams, help them learn essential leadership skills, and nurture entrepreneurial spirit—a key attribute for lifelong success.”

The Summer Intensive will be followed by a school year program, beginning this fall, comprised of three leadership development tracks: Leadership in the Workplace will feature career exploration opportunities through workplace visits, meetings with women leaders, and the opportunity for girls to become interns; Leadership in the Community will have girls participate in leadership and public policy-related workshops, with the goal of completing Take Action service projects and thus earning their Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting; and Leadership in the World, where girls will participate in workshops on global issues and advocacy, as well as to have the opportunity to attend the annual Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, a cinematic celebration of women and leadership in real life and the fictional world. Select participants in the Leadership in the World module will have the chance to join a virtual twinning partnership with girls in an international member organization of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

GSLI-NYC’s girls are already expressing their excitement about the program. "GSLI will give me greater opportunity to be part of the Girl Scouts' leadership movement,” said applicant Lsego Pearl Nkosi. “Girl Scouts is the place where I have support and where I was given the responsibility to take action towards making my community a better place."

Throughout the year, GSLI participants will have mentors guiding their efforts and supporting their continuous learning.  Mentors will include college students from Barnard guiding them through their business plans and Girl Scout Gold Award alumnae supporting their Take Action Projects. When given the opportunity to lead, girls discover their voice and potential to make a difference. GSLI will provide these opportunities and connect the girls with role models to help inspire their success,” said Melissa D’Andrea, Program Manager of


Teen Leadership Opportunities at GSGNY.

For press inquiries regarding Barnard College, contact Sun Min or Alyssa Vine at or212-854-2037.

For press inquiries regarding the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, contact Nathan Tabak (718-793-2211x105, or Katrin Maier (

About the Girl Scouts of Greater New York

The Girl Scouts of Greater New York (GSGNY) is New York City's largest and oldest girls-only leadership development program, reaching over 26,600 girls ages 5 to 17 in every zip code of the five boroughs with programming that instills self-confidence and a strong sense of values. With the assistance of more than 9,200 adult volunteers, GSGNY serves girls in public and private schools, public housing, transitional housing, and community-based organizations. The girls GSGNY serves reflect the incredible diversity of the city—39.8% Caucasian; 32.9% African American; 22.1% Other/Multi-Ethnic/Not Reported; 4.8% Asian American, and .4% American Indian/Alaskan participants. In addition, 26.7% of the girls are Latina/ Hispanic. GSGNY's constituency also is socio-economically diverse, with two-thirds of its girls coming from low- and/or modest income families. GSGNY offers research-based, age-appropriate programs that focus on the positive development of girls and respond to their unique needs and interests. Its programs are focused in four focal areas: STEM (science, technology, engineering, and Mathematics); Business and Entrepreneurship; Environmental Leadership; and Personal Leadership Identity. GSGNY programming teaches girls to lead with courage, confidence, and character and to make their communities and the world a better place. For more information, see

About the Athena Center

Established at Barnard College in 2009, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies is a catalyst for the education, development, and advancement of inspired and courageous women leaders worldwide. It creates and promotes innovative approaches to leadership development; educates and develops new generations of women leaders; challenges —and changes—cultural stereotypes of leaders; and fosters research and public dialogue that expand our understanding of leadership. Renowned civil rights attorney, Kathryn Kolbert, is the Center’s Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director. For more information, visit:

About Barnard College

The idea was bold for its time. Founded in 1889, Barnard was the only college in New York City, and one of the few in the nation, where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, as the world-renowned liberal arts college for women at Columbia University, Barnard remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional. For more information, visit

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