Updated: December 3, 2022
Girl Scouts of Hawaiʻi has received an $800,000 donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in her latest round of transformative grantmaking. The donation was part of an $84.5 million gift awarded to Girl Scouts of the USA and 29 local councils selected by Scott.
This gift to GSH will power leadership opportunities for girls through the advancement its mission, support various initiatives including its newly-opened STEM Center for Excellence at Paumalū, and help expand innovative programs such as the After School Leadership Program for girls in under-resourced areas of our community
“We are incredibly grateful to be one of the 29 local councils chosen to receive this generous gift from MacKenzie Scott,” said Shari Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts of Hawaiʻi. “As one of the smallest councils in the nation and the smallest council chosen, this grant validates our innovative programming approach, which we continuously evolve to provide girls with the skills, knowledge, and training they need to be well-prepared for their future – from STEM activities and environmental stewardship to financial literacy lessons, life skills and more. Prior to this donation, only 1.6% of annual giving has benefitted women and girl-focused organizations nationwide. With the challenges facing girls today, it’s critical that the community invests in their futures through organizations like the Girl Scouts of Hawaiʻi and we hope MacKenzie’s gift will inspire others to do so as well,” said Chang.
The recently opened STEM Center for Excellence also set GSH apart from other councils. The Center serves as a living laboratory providing year-round opportunities in subjects such as cyber security, astronomy, robotics, computer coding, botany, chemistry, environmental stewardship and more. The Center provides interactive programming to encourage girls to pursue education and careers in STEM fields; areas in which women are vastly underrepresented.
The STEM Center is also important beyond Hawaiʻi’s shores. GSUSA and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts selected Hawaiʻi as part of their international “Destinations” program for Girl Scouts around the world. In July 2022, GSH hosted its inaugural Pacific Exploration in STEM program at the STEM Center providing opportunities for girls from Hawaiʻi, the continental US, and two international countries to learn about Hawaiʻi’s multi-national cultures while engaging in unique STEM activities at Camp Paumalū on Oʻahu’s North Shore
GSH has developed innovative and inclusive programming such as the GSH After School leadership Program, which is designed to meet the need in Title 1 schools and under-resourced areas for leadership programs for girls from low-income families. The program provides hands-on, experiential out-of-classroom learning opportunities that complement national and state science standards to girls in under-resourced communities. Barriers to participation are alleviated by offering the programs at a low cost and delivering them in girls’ classrooms or locations within easy walking distance of school.
Girl Scouts provides young women with unparalleled leadership training, preparing them with the skills and mindset needed to tackle new challenges in an evolving world. Recent research from GSUSA cites that some of the biggest issues affecting girls today stem from the COVID-19 pandemic, gender and racial inequalities, mental well-being, and 21st-century skills and the future of work.