Each year, the money raised funds transformative experiences for hundreds of girls. These grants are about more than giving girls just money. For many, it is the first time someone believed in them, heard their dream, took a stand for them being powerful, etc. Small grant dollars translate to a life-long transformation of confidence, positivity, connecting you to what’s good in the world.
We have always believed that our grants were transformative for girls, but we wanted proof, so in 2016 we partnered with The Improve Group to evaluation our program results. Our goals were to more fully understand the impact of our grant programs and to ensure that our programs were achieving the desired results.
Good news: our grants are achieving the desired impact for girls in every measurable way! To review the evaluation summary, click here.
Here are a few examples of how these small grants have a monumental impact.
Julia (Age 15)
Dream: Trip to Costa Rica
Through an exchange program at her high school, Julia went to Costa Rica for a month to learn about its rich culture. With this transformative experience, Julia noticed that her knowledge of the Spanish language has drastically improved. Reflecting on her trip, she realized that this journey made a great difference in her life and she gained many new friends. She learned that while people have customs unique to their country and culture, all people have universal wants and needs. Julia added, "I truly expanded my comfort zone much further than I would have ever expected. I now understand that I am a part of a bigger global community...Thank you so much for giving me this grant!"
Delia (Age 15)
Dream: Trip to Thailand to work with elephants
Hometown: St. Paul
At 15 years old, Delia discovered Global Leadership Adventures when researching non-religious mission trips and was immediately drawn to their Elephant Conservation Project. She has loved elephants since she could remember, and this opportunity could not have excited her more. The high price tag of an international excursion was daunting at first, but she worked hard to turn her dreams into reality.
This led Delia to apply for a Dare to Dream grant, but the impact of the grant went much further than the actual money. “The moment I learned I had been given the grant, I realized it was actually possible.” What started as a desire to immerse herself in the culture and learn more about elephants soon turned into a truly transforming experience. When Delia first arrived in Thailand, she had some anxiety, afraid she wouldn’t be accepted. By the end of the trip, she created strong connections with those she was surrounded with and developed a stronger confidence. “This experience has changed me forever, I realize that people actually do like me, and it has changed the way I approach people now.” Delia is motivated to go to college, to travel more in the future, and has developed an interest in conservation of all species because of this experience.
Nkao (Age 12)
Dream: Help Hmong girls ages 5-12 realize their goals, self-esteem, leadership
Nkao had a dream of helping Hmong girls use their creativity to build their self-esteem and empower them to become great leaders. In the spring 2015 grant cycle, she was awarded a Dare to Dream grant to make this dream come alive. Nkao had the idea to help organize and run the Hmong Mighty Girl booth at the 35th Freedom Festival in Como Park with approximately 35,000 people in attendance. Here, Nkao used her incredible creative skills to put together an activity called “Letter in a Balloon.” She helped Hmong girls ages 5-12 create letters written to themselves containing 2-5 things that make them mighty, goals they have for themselves, and actions they will take to achieve those goals. These letters were put in Mighty Girl balloons and could be opened whenever these young girls needed words of encouragement.
The experience left a profound impact on Nkao, and this is what she shared us:
“I felt empowered and proud helping girls my age feel like they are allowed to express their feelings without fear, that they can express what they want to be without anyone judging them. I felt like a leader myself. This experience has made a big difference in life by allowing me to use my creativity in art and giving back to my community through service and empowerment. I felt proud of what I was able to do for other girls. Without it, I would not be who I am today. ”
Alexandra (Age 16)
Dream: Become a professional ballet dancer
Hometown: St. Cloud
Alexandra has aspired to be a professional ballet dancer since she can remember, and she dreams to carry on her love of ballet through teaching. Because of high costs for training and supplies, she has had to work especially hard to continue her ballet training. Between saving money she made from teaching ballet and receiving a Let Me Play grant in the spring of 2015, Alexandra was able to put herself through nine months of advanced ballet training. “Dance for me boosts my confidence and helps me be a more confident person in everyday life. Having the grant to continue training boosted my confidence and self-esteem, making my training much more attainable.”
For Alexandra, having strong mentors in her life has been a power motivator. “If I hadn’t had all the wonderful instructors I’ve had over the years, I probably wouldn’t have continue in ballet. Without the support you get frustrated. I’ve loved having instructors who were patient and help you master a step or move until you get it right.” Having a mentor through the granting process gave her the confidence she needed to continue her training. “It’s really nice to know that there’s someone there who wants to invest their time in you to help you achieve what you would like.” Alexandra hopes to one day be accepted into the Royal Winnipeg Aspirant and Teacher Program.
Michelle (Age 13)
Michelle received her Let Me Play grant award in 2011. She is currently a student at St. Cloud State University and continues her love for skating as a member of the SCSU Hockey Cheer Team and as a skating instructor at St. Louis Park Skating School and SportQuest Skating Academy in the Twin Cities during academic breaks.
Sophia (Age 11)
Dream: Horse Camp
Hometown: Golden Valley
If I listen and behave I am able to have fun experiences and am more pleasant to be around. I met new people who were kind and encouraging. I was proud to be in the show and receive a medal.
Maria (Age 12)
Dream: Baking Classes
Hometown: St. Paul
I learned a lot of tips about baking that will help me open a bakery some day. This experience will always be in my heart!
Mabruka (age 17)
Katey (age 15)
Dream: Westonka Summer Institute Trip in Costa Rica
For 10 days, I went out of my comfort zone and grew as a person. I studied out in the field with the renowned scientist Adrian Pinto, broke through the language barrier and really conquered my fears.
Abby (age 16)
Dream: Ecology Camp at Wolf Ridge
Hometown: Two Harbors
This camp has, hands down, been the best experience of my life. It has taught me how to have a greater respect for the world around us. I’ve made new friendships and countless memories that I’m sure will stay with me forever. I also learned how to trust and challenge myself, and how to be a better canoe paddler.
Rhiannon (age 15)
Dream: Service trip to West Virginia
“On this trip I learned about strength. Not the kind of strength it takes to lift something heavy, but the kind of strength it takes to get up in the morning when the whole world is against you. The kids I met did not have much money and most live in broken families. I was amazed that they all didn’t just give up on humanity all together…I have a new outlook on my own town as well. I find myself looking for more volunteer work and encouraging others to do the same. I know now that everyone is a person—they have loves and passions even if life is hard for them. They may just need a little help realizing them.”