Since 2020, the T.D. Jakes Foundation has been a proud partner of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, which serves more than 19,000 girls within their council and an additional 5,000 at their STEM Center of Excellence. In a 2022 partnership between the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and Galleria Dallas, TDJF CEO Hattie Hill was featured in an installation highlighting the power of female entrepreneurs in the Dallas area.
We spoke with Amanda Duquette, Chief Marketing & Membership Officer at the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas about her organization’s STEAM initiatives, their relationship with the Foundation, and why they’re encouraging girls to “Climb With Courage” to the top of the business world.
Can you tell me a little bit about the Girl Scouts’ STEAM and STEM initiatives?
One of the core pillars of our programming is a national initiative involving STEM, entrepreneurship, outdoor leadership and life skills. Within STEM, we have a STEAM component as well. Girls Scouts is traditionally looked at as a “cookies-and-crafts organization,” but we take crafts to a whole new level. That’s where the arts come in — allowing girls that creative exploration.
They can experience STEAM in a number of ways. Our 92-acre STEM Center of Excellence in Dallas is where the core of our programming is offered. We offer everything from courses in astronomy to biomedical engineering. Our high school girls are in an intensive biomedical engineering program where they are 3D printing and building parts for a prosthetic hand. The sky is the limit! Everything we do out there is fun and has some STEAM component built into it to help the girls see the tangible aspects of how STEAM can apply to their lives.
How did your partnership with the T.D. Jakes Foundation come about?
We were initially introduced to the T.D. Jakes Foundation through our troop operating at The Potter’s House. When Hattie Hill joined the Foundation, we invited her for a meet and greet and tour of The STEM Center with Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO, Jennifer Bartkowski. That’s when we realized the synergies of our organizations and the potential for a partnership to make a deeper impact on the youth in the surrounding community.
Currently, the T.D. Jakes Foundation sponsors our STEM initiatives here at Girl Scouts. That goes to fund activities, programs, and events out of the STEM center as well as supporting our troops and giving us access to resources to give the troop experiences that they love.
Can you talk a bit about why Girl Scouts is so focused on STEAM/STEM?
STEM is a core of our lives now; it is the leading industry today, and we want to help girls build confidence and interest in the core STEM subjects of math and science from an early age. Girls tend to opt out as early as kindergarten and third grade — those are the two peak times when we see girls say, “I can’t do it,” “Math and science is not for me,” or “Math is for boys.” That’s were we insert ourselves early and our programs start so young, to help give them the confidence in those subject areas.
How do you measure success? Do you have any success stories?
We do measure after programs with a focus on core outcomes; we want to understand the level of confidence built and whether girls in the program develop a deeper interest in STEM. Ideally, their interest in STEM would change for the better after having experience with our program. We look at things like mentorship, and have found that having exposure to an adult mentor within the STEM industry can help to ignite an interest in those career paths. There are a number of different metrics on our evaluation. Some of our key findings include:
- 87% of girls visiting the STEM Center used STEM to do something that matters to them
- Girl Scouts’ interest in STEM increases with age, in contrast to decreased STEM interest among other girls.
- Girl Scouts are more likely than other girls to participate in STEM activities and to desire a STEM career.
On January 28, your “Climb with Courage” went up at Galleria Dallas. This installation features our very own President and CEO, Hattie Hill. Can you tell us a bit about the wall, and why you chose to include Hattie?
As you mentioned, this year’s theme for the Girl Scout Cookie Program is “Climb with Courage.” We looked at women in our community who are climbing up in the business space with courage, as we are trying to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Hattie was selected for the wall because she is an incredible trailblazer here in Dallas with a track record of entrepreneurship. She has also consulted and supported several major companies and women, and she is an outstanding leader and role model in our community. Hattie is an excellent example of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
That’s what we want our girls to aspire to be. It is important for us that girls can physically see women who have been successful in this area. That is why they are up on the wall — for girls to see these women who have come before them. The wall includes some quotes about their path to success and who has inspired them. Through this “Climb with Courage” campaign, we are trying to inspire the girls and help them along the way as they embark on their cookie program this year.
To learn more about the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, visit: https://www.gsnetx.org/