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4 Stanford women crossing the U.S. to share the design thinking process with young girls and empower them as leaders of social change.
4 Stanford women crossing the country and coaching design thinking and leadership workshops that empower girls to become leaders of social change.
4 Stanford women crossing the country and coaching design thinking and leadership workshops that empower girls to become leaders of social change.
516 backers pledged $35,173 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Girls Driving for a Difference: a design studio on wheels

$35,173

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Our team of four Stanford students who will be driving an RV across the United States for ten weeks, visiting young women's communities (specifically camps and organizations for middle school girls), and coaching design thinking and leadership workshops! These workshops are crafted to give girls the tools, inspiration, and creative confidence to explore their purpose, enact social change in their communities, and envision their own dreams for someday changing the world. 

In preparation for this summer, we have been hosting workshops all over the Bay Area. We can't wait to hit the road this summer to expand our impact to a national level and reach thousands of middle schoolers across the country!

What is Design Thinking? 

Design thinking is a creative process for approaching any problem. It starts with getting to know the user and moves through steps for defining the "user need" and challenge, brainstorming solutions, building concepts, and trying them out! 

Why this matters

We believe that instead of asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, we should be asking them, "What kind of change do you want to create in the world, and how can you start achieving that dream today?"

However, between childhood and womanhood, girls in particular encounter a phenomenon called "losing voice," according to studies published at Harvard University.  74% of 12 year olds surveyed by Girl Scouts of America listed "Improving the world around me" as their favorite activity, but a lack of confidence holds them back from taking leadership. That's got to change!

And Kickstarter, these girls are amazing. Just wait until you hear their dreams of changing the world

The Workshop

While we tailor each workshop to meet the needs and interests of the diverse communities we visit, the basic curriculum caters to anywhere between 15 and 30 students at one time, for a two hour workshop.  

The entire experience is aided by our custom-designed packets, which encourage the students to think visually, collaborate, and plan roadmaps to achieving their dreams. 

The workshop ends as each girl stands up on her chair and shouts her "mission statement" for using her skills and interests for good. 

  • "I will use my skill in being a leader and my interest in cooking to make school lunches healthier."
  • "I will use my skill in writing stories and my interest in debating to teach people how to be eco-friendly." 
  • "To furnish/re-design shelters so they can have temporary housing to ensure the safety of outdoor animals in the rain!" 
  • "I will use my skill in speaking and my interest in human rights to make people equal and fight discrimination in our world."

How cool is that? 

Our purpose-learning cards guide students through questions like "What do your friends come to you for help with?" to help them explore their skills, interests, and causes they care about.
Our purpose-learning cards guide students through questions like "What do your friends come to you for help with?" to help them explore their skills, interests, and causes they care about.

We have already run our workshop experience with over 100 students in 5 different sessions. We've learned so much with each student, and each time, we iterate on our workshop format and materials to improve the experience. 

And as a final note, our workshops will not exclude other genders or ages, but we've seen through experience that by focusing on adolescent women, we can make the most meaningful impact. 

 

The Trip 

 

So far, we have potential stops in the works in cities all over the US, but we can't 100% promise any stops until we have your support, Kickstarter! 

In each location, we will visit one or more communities of mostly middle-school aged girls and tailor the workshop for their needs. These communities include summer camps, scouting troops, extracurricular groups, schools, and more!

We plan to work with at least 50 communities in our ten week trip. If you'd like to chat with us about becoming a part of the journey, please get in touch! 

What are you funding? 

By backing our campaign, you'll help cover all of our supply costs for running summer workshops, our preparation costs, and the expenses of being on the road for 10 weeks! 

We are actively pursuing a combination of grants, corporate sponsorships, and donations to cover the initial vehicle cost. 

Why us? 

We're young women leaders. We're experienced design thinking workshop facilitators. We love working with kids. And we're all in!

We believe that role models are extremely important (and too rare) for inspiring new leaders. Our team shows young girls what it looks like to live out your own mission statement, to use the design process to create change, and to work confidently for what you believe in.

JENNA LEONARDO CO-FOUNDER has spent her time at Stanford University exploring her passions for problem-solving and creativity. She is graduating with a B.S. degree in an interdisciplinary field of Science, Technology, and Society, and she is the current President of Stanford’s impact design studio, Design for America. 

KATIE KIRSCH CO-FOUNDER is a Product Design Engineering student at Stanford, whose passion for empowering girls comes from attending a prestigious all-women's school for seven straight years. She is an award-winning filmmaker and writer, a seasoned design leadership coach and d.school-lover, a diehard coffee-enthusiast, and a creative designer of products, graphics, and experiences. 

RACHEL H. CHUNG DIRECTOR OF MARKETING is a designer and marketer with a passion for education, empowerment, and design thinking, and will be graduating with a B.S. in Science, Technology, and Society with honors. Rachel is currently the founder and creative director of Blink, a Stanford team developing children’s eyewear, as well as an active researcher studying the intersection of design, learning, and exploration in children.

NATALYA THAKUR DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL IMPACT brings a passion for social entrepreneurship and design thinking from coaching design thinking workshops for alumni at Stanford Sierra Camp. Graduating from Stanford University with a degree in International Relations, Natalya is currently writing her honors thesis on the ethics of social work and women empowerment/leadership in international non-profit initiatives. At Stanford, Natalya has also served as Class President for two years and worked as an English teacher and camp counselor for youth girls in domestic and international settings. 

We can't wait to be following our own dreams while helping middle school girls find their own this summer!

Partners, Press, and Support

We're in the news! Hear more about our progress in these publications:

IDEO Futures Podcast

Fast Company: Strong Female Lead 

Pulse Magazine

The d.school Whiteboard 

The Stanford Daily

Design for America's Highlights of 2014

We've been publicly shared and endorsed by Tina Seelig, IDEO, GoldieBlox, Stanford Engineering, Chris Flink,  Design for America, The Experience Institute, the Stanford d.school, Anita Borg Institute, and K-12 Lab

Stay in Touch!

Connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Check out our website to learn more: girlsdrivingforadifference.com

Or send us an email at hello@girlsdrivingforadifference.com

Your support and suggestions mean the world to us! 

 

Risks and challenges

We can't ignore the risk associated with being four young women driving alone through the country, and we are doing all we can to mitigate that risk. By connecting with trustworthy hosts and contacts in each city, we will leverage a network of individuals and organizations to help us stay safe in unfamiliar areas. We also did a 4-day "prototype" trip in March to familiarize ourselves with RV safety and logistics, complete with our own experienced RV coach! This will give us an even better idea of how to prepare for maximum safety throughout the summer.

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    *Street Sponsor*
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    + cool GDD laptop sticker!

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    *Avenue Advocate*

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    + Personal note from a middle-schooler with her mission statement

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    *Interstate Investor*

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    Personal note from a middle-schooler with her mission statement

    + GDD T-shirt!

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    Personal note from a middle-schooler with her mission statement
    GDD T-shirt!

    + A surprise end-of-journey gift!

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    *California Cruiser*

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    + We'll come to wherever you are in the Bay Area and teach our workshop at a date between March - June!!

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    Personal note from a middle-schooler with her mission statement
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    + We'll come to wherever you are in the continental United States and teach our workshop this summer! (With date flexibility between June - September)

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Funding period

- (31 days)