Girls Driving for a Difference

At Experience Institute, we’re used to having conversations with people who are learning to risk and risking to learn, who want to take their education into their own hands, and who are at the edge of taking a leap to create something great. Even in that context, the Girls Driving for a Difference team is exceptional.

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Co-founded by Stanford students Jenna Leonardo and Katie Kirsch, Girls Driving for a Difference is a self-started summer project designed to empower middle-school girls across America to gain the confidence and tools they need to become leaders of social change in the world.

Inspired by Stanford’s D.School and Experience Institute, Jenna and Katie are bringing together their passion for design thinking and women’s empowerment in education to take a leap this summer.

Back in 2012, Victor Saad founded The Leap Year Project and inspired others to take a leap toward their dreams, toward a better world, and toward change in their lives. By taking risks to learn and grow, individuals all over were able to create great things. Although the next Leap Year is 2016, Jenna and Katie are hitting the road early to start their own unique version of a college student’s leap year project.

This summer of 2015, Jenna and Katie, along with Stanford colleagues Natalya Thakur and Rachel Chung, will be driving across America in an RV to coach leadership and empowerment workshops in over 50 diverse girls’ communities. Through sharing the design thinking tools that first empowered them, they hope to instill confidence in other girls across the country.

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The workshops will be designed to give girls the tools, inspiration, and creative confidence to discover their purpose, enact social change in their communities, and envision their own dreams for someday changing the world.

While summer is fast approaching, Girls Driving for a Difference is working to discover communities that include middle-school girls and would be interested in the design thinking and leadership workshops that they’re offering this summer. Visit their website to suggest a community that could benefit from the tools they have to share.

The GDD team is preparing for their trip by launching a Kickstarter campaign, through which they hope to obtain funds for the RV rental, travel and food, emergencies and repairs on the road, as well as workshop materials and more. Selected as a Staff Pick by the Kickstarter crew, GDD raised $5,000 within the first 5 hours of their campaign. But they still have a ways to go before they meet their goal. Check out their story and donate to the cause at Kickstarter.

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Ambitious but focused, the women behind Girls Driving for a Difference have the capacity and dedication to see their goals through to the end. More than that, though, they’re sharing those goals with the rest of us, inviting others to participate and become part of the change.

This summer begins with one leap for Jenna and Katie, but it has the potential to result in so much positive change across the country.

Have you been thinking of a leap you’d like to take? Do you want to participate in the 2016 Leap Year Project? If so, send us a note via our Contact page or via email at hello@expinstitute.com.

Here’s to a great start, Jenna & Katie!