It started in San Jose, Calif., in 2002. Today, it has spread to 10 cities around the U.S. — from Phoenix to Houston to Washington, D.C. It's a movement of young women who are working to make changes in their schools, in their communities, and in their lives.

Girls For A Change (GFC) is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower girls to create social change. As members of GFC, young women are invited to design and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls are facing in their own neighborhoods. To facilitate change, GFC teams up "Girl Action Teams" of about 10 girls with professional female role models, leadership training, and the inspiration to work together in teams to solve persistent societal problems. The teams meet during the school year to identify an issue they want to change and then design and implement a social change project.

Here are a few of the group's accomplishments to date:

  • A GFC action team in San Jose, Calif., was concerned about the lack of information available to girls on teen pregnancy. In response, they are creating video that includes individual experiences with teen pregnancy/parenting, resources and current facts and statistics to educate their peers on the reality of teen parenting.
  • In Phoenix, Ariz., a GFC team decided to combat the growing problem of teen drug use by interviewing teens facing challenges in their lives and asking them to share their stories and also their healthy coping strategies.
  • In response to the tough economy, a GFC team in Richmond, Va., is aiming to empower girls to use their money wisely through a painting and photography exhibit that educates families about financial literacy.
The effects of the GFC program are exponential. Not only do the girls involved in the program help solve an immediate social need, but they are also introduced to a network of professional women and legislators who help them build their own web of contacts and mentors. I can only imagine that this kind of social networking will help these girls break out of social niches and continue working for change into adulthood.

GFC teams from around the country can also collaborate online to share their world-changing ideas, help each other with projects, and support each other's efforts.

This is an inspirational program that is making a difference right now in communities across the U.S. And its effects are likely to last for generations to come as these young ladies grow into strong leaders, ready and able to implement social change.