On May 12, seven fourth and fifth-grade girls from Glenview Elementary School in Oakland California— Adrienne on the flute, Amelia on the cello, Ella on the cello, Megan on the cello, Claire on the cello, and Zoe on the violin— set up as a mini-orchestra in the Rockridge BART station to help raise money for the 10×10 Fund for Girls’ Education. Along with Penelope, who passed out fliers and enthused about the film and project, Olivia and Sophie, who were on hand to offer back-up support, and Bailey, Kylie, Harper, Sally, and Sophia who manned a stall with baked goods, the collective team of Glenview Girls raised an incredible $1,200.00 to contribute toward the fund. Most importantly, they used their passion for the 10×10 social action campaign goals and the film Girl Rising to generate buzz around the issue of girls’ education and to encourage passersby to see the film and to learn more about why educating girls matters.
Where did their inspiration come from? All of the girls are in the same class at Glenview Elementary School. After seeing the film, Girl Rising, they felt inspired to band together to do something more to help girls like the girls featured in the film. Their small orchestra had recently opened for the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and they decided to unite again to use their collective talent to simultaneously spread the word about the film, Girl Rising, and to act, by raising funds for the 10×10 Fund for Girls’ Education. After their performance Claire, Penelope, and Ella joined me on a call to debrief. They spoke about where the motivation to do the fundraiser had come from, how they managed to turn the occasion into a success, what they had learned from the experience, and what they were hoping to do in the future.
Penelope, Claire, and Ella recalled the importance of teamwork to their fundraiser. Without the collaboration of different instrumentalists the melody would have been lost behind the music of the cellists. Working as a team meant that they could hand out fliers and information about 10×10 and Girl Rising and engage more listeners. “The music sounded better,” the three girls enthused. Without the support of their parents— who helped them to choose their repertoire, who volunteered their houses for practice spaces, and who helped to bake the goods sold to raise money for the 10×10 Fund for Girls’ Education— they would never have been able to pull the fundraiser together. Penelope’s father, an employee of the BART system, had even helped the girls to obtain the permits required to set up in the Rockridge BART.
Despite the challenges of learning to work effectively as a team, of playing for two hours with only intermittent breaks, and of putting up copious posters and fliers around school to publicize the performance and fundraiser, they managed to turn their efforts into an inspired success story. They overshot their initial fundraising goals by $1100.00, for a total contribution of $1200.00, or enough to send twenty-four girls to school for one year.
Over the course of the interview, the girls’ gratitude and passion for the cause of girls’ education bubbled into every answer they gave and question they asked.
“I like that all kids here have to go to school. Even if we think we don’t like it, it’s great that we have it,” Claire said. “The girls in the movie wanted to go to school so badly. We’re so grateful,” both Penelope and Ella echoed. They had previously asked me if Girl Rising was helping girls in the US; it’s clear through their actions that it has, and still is. Penelope, Claire, and Ella hope to take the Call to Action even further- to spearhead future door-to-door fundraisers and to involve the Girl Scouts in a service project or fundraiser.
When I asked them how they hoped to do more, they said that they wanted to spread the word. That if they spread the word then twelve more girls like them could have more. “Really, it’s about spreading the word and saying, ‘Hey, did you check this out?’ If people spend ten seconds spreading fliers they will have more knowledge and be able to recommend the cause. That would help. Then we could get tons of money going to people who need it,” all three girls answered together.
Penelope, Claire, Ella, and all of the Glenview Girls are proof that the movie and social action campaign are helping girls and wider communities everywhere.
By increasing visibility around the importance of girls’ education as a solution to world poverty, Girl Rising is inspiring girls, boys, men, and women to become leaders in spreading the film’s message. It is inspiring people from wide socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds to band together to ensure that everyone around the world, regardless of gender or income level, has the opportunity to attend school. Not only is it ‘helping’ girls, boys, men, and women in the US to become aware of how lucky we are to have the opportunity to learn in a classroom, but it is inspiring people across the country to turn that luck into a platform for leadership.
At the end of our interview the girls reflected back on their experience: “What we did, we did because we were dedicated. When you work together, you have the power to make a difference.”