For 8 days starting July 14, Girl Scouts in grades 9­–12 from across the five boroughs, many from low-income communities, will have a special opportunity to design socially-conscious business ventures and have them evaluated by some of New York’s most successful entrepreneurs. As part of the Girl Scout Leadership Institute, a 15-month leadership development program, the Girl Scouts of Greater New York (GSGNY) will once again partner with Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies to present the Girl Scout Leadership Institute Entrepreneurship Summer Intensive, a program taught by business and finance professionals and entrepreneurs focused on providing a transformative immersion into the world of ethical and effective entrepreneurship.

During this Summer Intensive, participants will work together in small teams to develop their business ideas and will gain critical problem-solving skills as marketers, storytellers, and budding entrepreneurs. The Intensive will offer workshops on topics ranging from “Business Ideation” to “Getting Funded,” and will include site visits to start-ups throughout New York, including Levo League, Makerbot, ZocDoc, and Zinepak. As a culminating event, Intensive participants will present their ideas to a panel of established entrepreneurs and business professionals at GSGNY’s second annual ‘Pitchfest’ on Thursday, July 24th.

Last year, Scouts developed business ideas designed to present solutions to various local and global problems, including an easily accessible language-learning app for teens, a community-based class designed to both teach teens how to sew and to donate clothing to the homeless population, and an innovative online library to increase literacy around the world. Some Scouts are continuing to turn these ideas into career directions or mini-businesses.

“There is a real need to close the gender gap in leadership and entrepreneurship that persists in our society today. The earlier in a girl’s life this intervention begins, the better,” said Barbara Murphy-Warrington, Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. “We are thrilled to enter the second year of this partnership with Barnard that reflects both institutions’ commitment to reshape the 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 part of a larger strategic plan for GSGNY that focuses on closing the leadership gap for girls and women and on expanding its programs from 28,000 to 45,000 girls.

Kathryn Kolbert, the Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director of Barnard College’s Athena Center, said, “This program inspires girls to be more innovative and to learn essential leadership skills. We are pleased to welcome the Girl Scouts back to Barnard this summer and thank GSGNY for their continuing partnership.”

Beginning in the fall, Scouts will participate in a 9-month school year program designed to deepen knowledge, understanding, and skills acquired in the Summer Intensive and further examine leadership through three lenses: Leadership in the Workplace: Career Exploration & Workforce Development; Leadership in the Community: Community Action & Advocacy; and Leadership in the World: Expanding Global Consciousness. During this part of the Institute program, girls will have the opportunity to participate in various workshops, including two leadership workshops delivered by the Athena Center; engage with women leaders through Leadership Coach Circles delivered by GSGNY’s corporate partners; attend the annual Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, a cinematic celebration of women and leadership; and vie for take-action project seed money, competitive internships, and global travel opportunities, which are newly-added, grant-funded program enhancements this year.