BY MARY WICOFF
When Girl Scouts go out and sell boxes of cookies, they’re not just making money — they’re also learning vital financial skills.
“Everything we do to advance financial literacy among our youth is a step in the right direction,” said Hope Garrett, leader of Danville Troop 2224.
“I firmly believe that the earlier we teach sound financial principles to our kids, the better educated and equipped they will be to handle the financial issues of their generation — whatever those happen to be.”
With that emphasis on financial literacy, the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois is excited to have received a $20,000 grant from State Farm to support a financial literacy program. The program teaches business and financial skills to girls in 38 counties across central Illinois.
“Financial Fitness for Girls” helps develop five key skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics, while supporting the educational journey of girls to become leaders in business and life.
Last year, Garrett coordinated a service area event during Money Smart Week from which Daisies and Brownies were able to earn their financial literacy badges. Garrett also is chairperson for Money Smart Week in Vermilion County.
Kristy Martin with Troop 2059, Georgetown, said the cookie campaign, which starts in January with a rally, helps girls develop financial literacy.
“They develop their decision-making skills, learn how to manage money, and develop people skills and business ethics,” she said. The girls set goals and learn how to spend the money wisely.
“There’s a whole curriculum about selling cookies. It’s not just, ‘I’m a Girl Scout, buy some cookies,’” Martin said.
Funding provided by State Farm will be allocated to help support two components of the Financial Fitness for Girls program:
More than 2,600 girls in central Illinois participate in regional cookie rallies, which serve as an introduction to the Girl Scout Cookie Program — the largest all-girl financial literacy program in the country. The rallies allow girls to practice goal-setting, customer relations, marketing, and safe selling. Girls apply the skills and knowledge throughout the cookie program by working together to set financial goals and develop strategies to allocate their proceeds to fund community service projects.
This program provides girls from low-income families an opportunity to develop financial literacy skills and earn their own money, which they can use to participate in council-sponsored activities/camp or community service projects. Girls who participate in the cookie program, whether through volunteer-led or staff-led guidance, build real-world skills that will help them develop sound financial and business practices early in life.
C.J. Hinrichsen, director of product sales for the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, said in a news release, “For 100 years, Girl Scouting has provided the tools to help girls achieve their full personal and professional leadership potential. Financial literacy has been an essential component of that effort.
“We appreciate the support of State Farm as they recognize it’s not just about selling cookies. This program empowers girls to manage sales and profits to fund troop and individual activities, as well as community services, that shape their Girl Scouting experience. These skills serve as a strong foundation for girls to build on throughout their lives.”
An Impact Study about the value of Girl Scouting reveals that Girl Scout alumnae have a higher income/socioeconomic status, a greater level of civic engagement, and are overall more successful than their non-Girl Scout peers (published by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 2012).