Friday, April 29, 2016

Financial Literacy Month: Mary Chats with Gina Douvas of Merrill Lynch about Financial Literacy

Inspiring Our Girls to Achieve Financial Success

As we wrap up Financial Literacy Month, there’s no better time to reflect on our partnerships with financial institutions like Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. These partnerships provide much-needed support to the over 35,000 young women we serve across the state. I recently sat down with Gina Douvas, Vice President/ Senior Resident Director, Wealth Management at Merrill Lynch, to talk about some of the work they’ve sponsored over the last few years.

Mary: For the past three years, the Soundview Women’s Exchange Chapter at Merrill Lynch has collaborated on a program we call “Money Matter$”, which sets up Girl Scouts with mentors and takes them through an annual financial literacy and career training program. Can you talk a little bit about why this program is so important?

Gina: Financial literacy is an essential skill that helps enable our youth to succeed in college, their careers, and dealing with the economic future that lies ahead. Our group firmly believes in the importance of providing the young women in our community with the skills they need to achieve financial success.

Mary: We’re so happy that you’ve made this commitment to our girls! Can you talk a little bit about the program?

Gina: Mentors are comprised of Merrill Lynch employees who dedicate their time to the program each year. Young women are educated on how to track expenses, build savings, and finding ways to give back to their community. At the same time, they are paired with these mentors who have chosen to pursue a career path in financial services, allowing them to recognize that “If you can see it, you can be it.”

 Mary: We’ve seen great response from not only the young women involved in the program, but parents are also seeing a difference. We’re working to include an additional component that will include parents, and potentially the opportunity to provide financial literacy training for the whole family.

Gina: That’s right! I’ve seen the impact myself and am looking forward to enrolling my own daughter into the program. The girls are not only taught financial literacy skills, but they also develop leadership skills and understand the importance of giving back from their mentors.

Mary: Can you talk a little bit about Better Money Habits, which is used to create some of these training materials?

Gina: Bank of America has partnered with online educator Sal Khan and Khan Academy to build The platform takes Khan’s approach to simplifying intimidating topics and applies it to topics that young people can relate to, such as how to manage student debt. We have videos and articles on the site that break down some of these issues for all ages, which is very helpful for a program like Money Matter$, and we also used the Student Financial Handbook to help create the curriculum.

Thank you Gina, and everyone at Merrill Lynch who has dedicated their time and efforts to the young women of Connecticut. We look forward to many more successful programs in the years to come!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Leader's Day!

Thank you, Girl Scouts of Connecticut Volunteers!

As you know, April is Volunteer Appreciation Month, and today is Leader’s Day! On behalf of Girl Scouts of Connecticut, I want to send a very large message of love and gratitude to the thousands of adults in every zip code of the state who make Girl Scouting possible for 35,000 Girl Scouts throughout Connecticut.

Our 17,000 adult members serve as volunteer troop leaders, co-leaders, cookie managers, registrars, trainers, Service Unit Managers, and in many other capacities to make sure that every girl has the potential to thrive, succeed, and be amazing! Our volunteers serve as role models, coaches, and guides so that girls can gain confidence trying and succeeding at new experiences like outdoor adventure, community engagement, STEM exploration, and countless other areas.

Our volunteers are true models of leadership and civic responsibility. It is not unusual for a Girl Scout volunteer to dedicate in excess of 200 hours a year to contribute to the mission of Girl Scouting to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place!

We are excited to say “thank you” to a number of our volunteers this Sunday, April 24, at our Annual Meeting. At our recognition ceremony, we will acknowledge our members who have served in Girl Scouting for a number of years—we are even recognizing a few 50 to 65-year pins!

So, the next time you see a group of Girl Scouts, make a point to introduce yourself to their leader and all the other volunteers who are guiding and supporting them.  And be sure to say “thanks” for their dedication and commitment to their work.

Thank you, Girl Scout volunteers, for recognizing that girls matter.

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Friday, April 15, 2016

April is flying by!

What a fun and inspirational evening we had Wednesday night “schmoozing” with WNPR interviewer and host, Faith Middleton! On April 13, we joined Faith for an engaging conversation about her experience as a female journalist in the 80s, her passion for the advancement of girls and women, and the importance of community.

I’d like to thank WNPR’s wonderfully quirky Chion Wolf for emceeing and bringing a lot of fun and energy to the event. I’d also like to thank Diane Smith, GSOFCT Board Member, New York Times bestselling author, Emmy Award-winning journalist, and media personality for leading us in an engaging conversation with Faith—you both were wonderful!  And we were thrilled to hear from recent Gold Award recipients Helen and Jenelle who shared their Gold Award journeys.

Last but certainly not least, a BIG thanks to all of our supporters who joined us! Because of you, girls across every inch of the state will have the opportunity to discover the world around them, connect with others, and take action to make the world a better place.

Speaking of taking action, this year we are celebrating 100 Years of Changing the World—the Gold Award Centennial! The Gold Award is the highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouting, and we are so proud of all of our girls who earn the highest awards.  

On April 27, we are inviting Silver and Gold Awardees to the State Capitol for our event, Lunch with Your Legislator. There, girls have the opportunity to meet with their local legislators, participate in a Gold Award round-table, take part in the pinning ceremony for our Honorary Troop at the Capitol, and take a tour of the Connecticut Supreme Court. If you know a girl who earned her Silver or Gold who may want to attend, there are still spots available!

Stay tuned for more information about our amazing Gold Awardees past and present and several additional special events we have planned throughout 2016.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring is Here!?

With a full day of snowfall in Hartford only a few days ago, it is hard to believe that spring is really here. However, as the weather eventually decides to turn into real spring weather, we are officially wrapping up our Girl Scout Cookie season and getting ready for some exciting events!

Because of our dedicated volunteers and our girls, this was a very strong year for cookie sale results. Your hard work enabled us to surpass our goal! Even more importantly, the girls built their confidence and learned five important skills: goal setting, business ethics, money management, decision making, and people skills. Our girls will use their cookie sale proceeds for service projects in their communities, to fund fun, learning activities, and more. 

With support from their customers, our girls were also able to donate about 140,000 boxes cookies to our service women and men at home and overseas through our Cookies for Heroes Program! A big thank you to our volunteers and staff who helped make this year’s cookie program such a success.

While I am on the subject of volunteers, April is very special because it is Volunteer Appreciation Month! Without the dedication of our volunteers, Girl Scouts of Connecticut couldn’t exist. Volunteers are the lifeblood to our organization and because of their hard work and commitment, our girls can experience the magic of Girl Scouting. Thank you, volunteers, from the bottom of our hearts!

We have a busy month ahead of us. On April 13, Girl Scouts of Connecticut will have the opportunity to do some “schmoozing” with WNPR’s Faith Middleton at our event, “A Little Schmooze with Faith” at the New Haven Lawn Club from 5:30—8:00 p.m. At the event, we will have a conversation with Faith about her experiences as a female journalist in the 80's and discuss the state of girls and women today! Come join us! 

Yours in Girl Scouting,