May 2, 2018
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These girls aren’t taking the summer off—they’re becoming CEOs

Girls with Impact is a 'mini MBA' for teens who want to create their own businesses and nonprofits

From the 'Uber for make-up' to helping kids in Cambodia, Girls with Impact teaches young entrepreneurs how to build successful ventures. Photos courtesy of Girls with Impact

When summer rolls around, most kids are headed to camp or the beach.

But Girls with Impact–teen girls ages 14 to 18–are becoming CEOs, and they’re doing it from the beach, train, bedroom … wherever they are.

They’re learning how to build businesses and more. In fact, these girls have seen a 140 percent increase in confidence leading teams and 90 percent say they’re better able to differentiate themselves in college.

Jody Bell, 16, says of her experience: “I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel powerful.”

The live, digital delivery of this “mini-MBA” also enables girls to develop a powerful network while getting a huge leg-up in college and career. And this matters: 6 in 10 women don’t see themselves as leaders, according to KPMG Women’s Leadership Study, and young people lack networks needed for job success, says the OECD.

Just this past week, 25 Girls with Impact Academy graduates unveiled their business ventures, ranging from Countless Cares for Cambodia, inspired by the death of relatives; to Cleo, an app to find and secure makeup experts on-demand.

The organization celebrated its success by kicking off application season for its Summer Intensive, a six-week program to turn Summer into career and college prep success. So far, girls from 30 schools in five states have participated.

Joined by her Cambodian father, a survivor of the mass genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge, 13-year-old Emily Kong said it was the stories her father told her growing up that led to her pencil pouches for Cambodian children: “My starving brother and sister passed away in my arms. They would have been an amazing aunt and uncle to you, Emily.”

Renata Ponchitesta, 17, is working on Hunger Bar, an app to better facilitate food donations and support such local organizations as Neighbor to Neighbor.

Cathy Senyonjo, 16, is working on Plait Please, a device to facilitate braiding of black hair given the “four to six hours” it takes, while Kellie Taylor, 17, is building Cleo, an Uber-like app to find makeup help in your area.

Jennifer Openshaw with 14-year-old Megan Ardiles, whose venture Save & Gain ensures young people build good financial habits.

“I never thought I could do this, but I feel more confidence, powerful,” said Megan Ardiles, 14, who participated with her sister Grecia, 16. “We would check in with each other and give each other feedback.”

The “mini-MBA” guides teens from idea to a business plan and prepares them to launch a real business, nonprofit, or community project while giving them a leg-up in college prep and career.

“I’m so excited,” said Gillian Goldstein. “There’s just something about being able to bring my own project to life.”

Educator Sheryl Hewitt said about the extra-curricular academic program: “This is beyond ‘wow!’ Girls can use this as their capstone project.”

Apply for Summer now. Learn more here. Connect on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Jennifer Openshaw

Founder and CEO of Girls with Impact

Jennifer Openshaw is a nationally known financial expert, Dow Jones columnist, and CEO of Girls with Impact. A one-time motel maid, Jennifer became founder and CEO of Women’s Financial Network and one of Silicon Valley’s early women leaders.

Her advocacy to equip and empower on behalf of all Americans made her a sought-out expert on such shows as Oprah and Today. Her first book, "What’s Your Net Worth?," was turned into a public television show she hosted. She went on to hold roles at Bank of America, JP Morgan, and global HR consulting firm Mercer. She has advised Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, where she was its national spokesperson for women and money. Today, she brings her expertise in wealth, careers, and tech to girls as CEO of Girls with Impact.