Every day hundreds of thousands of Memphians work to make a difference in their own way through their work with a girl or woman serving organization. Imagine if all those people were at one table, working together to decide how to serve the community, and pooling their collective resources, what an amazing difference they could make in the lives of every girl and woman in our community. On September 28, the City of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, announced the formation of Stand Beside Her Memphis, a coalition of Memphis area girl and women serving organizations in a press conference.
Girl Scouts Heart of the South, Hutchison School, Women’s Foundation For A Greater Memphis, Big Brothers, Big Sisters - Memphis, GIRL 24 Movement, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Junior League of Memphis, St. Agnes Academy, City of Memphis Fire Services, Angel Street Memphis, and KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools have worked collectively to form a coalition of all girl and women serving organizations. Three years ago, Girl Scouts Heart of the South started the national movement – Stand Beside Her. This is a call to action initiative to mentor, support and develop women and girls; to end comparison and competition and create more collaboration and support for one another.
The idea for this movement came from the experiences that girls have in Girl Scouts. The fact is, most of a girl’s life is co-ed. But the emotional, girl-inclusive safe space offered by Girl Scouts, and most all girl organizations, fosters collaboration instead of competition, and promotes support among girls, enabling them to stretch beyond their limits and transfer valuable knowledge and skills to any environment, both now and in the future.
Girl Scouts does this in everything they do – from troop meetings, cookie sales and camping to STEM and beyond. The programs are girl-led and girl-focused. Girl Scouts Heart of the South, through the skill building Girl Scout Leadership Experience, is creating a female leadership pipeline in the Greater Memphis area. However, the organization realized that a multitude of girl serving organizations collaborating together means there is a greater chance that girls will experience more, learn more, be more energized and more engaged because they will be able to participate in events from all of the organizations within the collaboration.
Girl Scouts Heart of the South and the other coalition members are developing the next generation of girl leaders through a local version of the National Stand Beside Her movement. “Our vision is to create a world, especially right here in the Greater Memphis area, where all women and girls are appreciated for their talents, strengths and uniqueness,” said Melanie Schild, CEO of Girl Scouts Heart of the South. “At Girls Scouts, our leadership model is designed to meet girls’ interests and needs because it’s collaborative and values a diversity of perspectives. This is also the focus we would like the coalition to have – girl-centered, girl-led and girl-focused.”
Currently the coalition is seeking other nonprofits that serve girls and women to join and create a place where every girl or woman can reach her goals and succeed mightily. There will be a showcase on November 1, 2017 at the ServiceMaster Innovation Center, 150 Peabody Place, Memphis, where all the coalition members will be able to meet each other and other community supporters and share their mission with attendees.
The coalition is also planning a traveling lunch series where quarterly “brown bag” lunches are hosted by one of the partner organizations and will focus on effecting change in women and girls’ lives. The topics will vary based on the community and the needs of the girls. There will also be a leadership area of the coalition where partner organizations’ efforts in building the next generation of girl leaders is amplified. It will work towards exposing girls to various opportunities throughout the community.
“We are building something big,” said Schild. “And we want all girl serving organizations at the table with us. Together we are better and by collaborating, sharing opportunities, referring services and connecting girls and women to resources, we can produce monumental change in our city.”
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