Girl Scout Research Institute

June 2009 Issue No. 7

From Research to Action: Advocacy in Girl Scouting

In 1952, Girl Scouts of the USA established a Public Policy and Advocacy (PPA) Office.  Since that time, PPA has worked to build strong relationships with members of the legislative and executive branches of the government, to educate them on issues important to girls and Girl Scouting, and to lobby for increased program resources for girls.

GSRI and PPA work together as a department to connect policymakers, notable experts, and influential leaders to GSRI’s cutting edge research on the complex, ever-changing needs of girls. The Public Policy, Advocacy, and Research Institute Department uses a research to action model where the research that GSRI conducts informs PPA’s efforts to initiate dialogue and engage partnerships on current issues that concern girls—from girls’ efforts to live ethical, healthy lives amid their fears, challenges, and hopes, to their aspirations of being leaders to effect positive social change locally and globally. 

Throughout the first session of the 111th Congress, PPA has advocated on critical issues affecting girls including: encouraging healthy living among girls; increasing girls’ involvement in science, technology, engineering, and math; developing girl leadership; improving girls’ financial literacy; ensuring Girl Scouting opportunities for all girls; and, supporting a thriving non-profit community.

This issue of the e-newsletter highlights current Girl Scout advocacy efforts for girls.  Be a part of the dialogue.  We’d love to read about your efforts in lifting the voice of girls in your local communities and nationally.

Also, stay tuned for our upcoming research study on youth and ethics to be released this fall!


Michael Conn, Ph.D.
Vice President
Girl Scout Research Institute
Girl Scouts of the USA


An issue directly affecting girls that Girl Scouts is taking the lead on in partnership with Congress is the Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act (IMPACT Act), H.R. 2276, introduced by Congresswomen Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Nita Lowey (D-NY). The new version of the IMPACT Act that was recently introduced in the 111th Congress now reflects girls’ definitions and perceptions of healthy living.

What IMPACT provides

The IMPACT Act provides resources for communities to improve girls’, and all youth’s, nutrition, physical activity, and emotional wellness.  

It meets a critical need for a comprehensive approach to obesity and eating disorder prevention, as well as improving children’s overall emotional and physical health.  This legislation is taking groundbreaking steps by recognizing that youth, especially girls, view health holistically.

What IMPACT promotes

It promotes cross-sector collaboration among schools, health professionals, and youth-serving organizations, such as the Girl Scouts.

It values the contributions organizations such as the Girl Scouts make towards improving youth’s healthy living and features the Girl Scout Research Institute’s original research report, The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living, in its findings. 

For more information on the Impact Act, contact



On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, female members of Congress got a rare glimpse into the evolving perceptions of girls' leadership during a dialogue hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office and the Girl Scout Research Institute.

The event entitled "What Girls Say about Leadership: Empowering the Next Generation of Female Leaders" included Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Lois Capps, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Betty McCollum, Rep. Sue Myrick, Rep. Janice Schakowsky, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Rep. Maxine Waters was unable to attend and sent a staff delegate on her behalf.

The decision to convene a meeting between policymakers and the Girl Scouts was sparked by a recent study released by the Girl Scout Research Institute which found that the presidential election, and the intense campaign season that preceded it, generated an unprecedented level of interest in civic engagement among young people.

"Research with girls across the country demonstrates that the current notion of leadership as command and control often does not resonate with girls. Girls are redefining leadership to be connected to making a difference in the world—and are asking for support from adults to do the same," said Judy Schoenberg, Director, Research and Outreach, GSUSA.

“As a result of this dialogue on girls' leadership, we hope that policymakers will have a shared understanding of how this generation of girls understands leadership and the barriers they face to achieving their leadership potential," said Laurie Westley, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Advocacy, and the Research Institute, GSUSA.

Troop Capitol Hill Co-leaders
Top left to right:
Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Susan Collins
Bottom left to right:
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Representative Kay Granger.

New female members of Congress also  were inducted into Troop Capitol Hill, an honorary Congressional Girl Scout troop open to all Congresswomen.

Troop Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of women Members of Congress, works with the PPA Office to substantively address issues affecting girls and young women in partnership with Congress. 

These women are strong leaders in Congress with a steadfast commitment to our purpose.  Members of Troop Capitol Hill are inspiring role models for Girl Scouting’s nearly 3 million girl members nationwide.


PPA is currently mobilizing its grassroots advocacy network to build support for an issue moving through the 111th Congress that is important to the Girl Scout Movement—The Girl Scouts of the USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 621 and S. 451).  Girl Scouting is celebrating its Centennial in 2012.

The Girl Scouts of the USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act recognizes the achievements of the Girl Scouts of the USA and the 59 million women across the nation whose lives have been influenced by Girl Scouting.

This legislation will direct the U.S. Mint to produce 350,000 silver coins and provides the opportunity to raise funds for Girl Scouting. 
Girl Scouts needs your immediate assistance to advocate for the commemorative coin legislation celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouting.

We need to act quickly to send messages of support to our Senators and U. S. Representatives, since Congress approves only two coins each year and we have aggressive competition.

We urge you to take the first step today by logging onto to join the Girl Scouts Advocacy Network today.

Collectively, we can advocate for the Girl Scout Commemorative Coin that will be a lasting symbol of our 100th Anniversary.


By becoming a member of the Girl Scouts Advocacy Network at, you will receive updates and alerts about important issues moving through Congress and the state legislatures.

The Girl Scouts Advocacy Network allows you to send customized messages to your elected officials and provides access to their contact information.

When you join the Girl Scout Advocacy Network, you ensure girls’ voices and concerns will be heard. Together, we can educate policymakers and community leaders on issues that directly affect girls and Girl Scouting.


Girls’ preferred definitions of leadership imply personal principles, ethical behavior,
and the ability to effect social change.

—GSRI, Change It Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership (2008)

88 percent of girls ages 11–17 believe that feeling good about yourself is more important than how you look.

—GSRI, The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006)

83 percent of very active girls ages 11–17 say that physical activity makes them feel good about themselves.

—GSRI, The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006)

The Girl Scout Research Institute, formed in 2000, is a vital extension of Girl Scouts of the USA.
The GSRI conducts original research, evaluation, and outcomes measurement studies, releases critical facts and findings, and provides resources essential for the advancement of the well-being and safety of girls living in today's world. 

The GSRI also informs public policy and advocacy for Girl Scouting.


Girl Scouts of the USA
Mission Statement

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.


Be a Voice 4 Girls!

Girl Scouts of the USA is building the
Girl Scouts Advocacy Network!

Become a part of a collective voice!

You can act on girl policy issues, such as the IMPACT Act to improve girls’ and youth’s nutrition, physical activity, and emotional wellness and the Girl Scout Centennial Commemorative Coin Act  to recognize achievements of Girl Scouts of the USA and its members.

Sign up today!



In 2004, Girl Scouts began to develop its Core Business Strategy to ensure that this historic organization continues to be the best leadership experience for girls ages 5 to 17.

In 2008, Girl Scouts launched the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, which engages girls in journeys that incorporate Girl Scouts' 15 national outcomes for girls.

Watch an interactive video on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience!


Girl Scout Journeys

Girl Scout Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards

Young Women of Distinction

Challenge and Change

uniquely ME! The Girl Scout/Dove Self-Esteem Project


Girl Scout Research Institute

Public Policy and Advocacy
Washington, D.C., Office

Girl Scouts of the USA

Media Inquiries

New Leadership Experience Inquiries

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