GirlVentures Awarded a Paddle Nation Grant

Paddle Nation funding 11 projects in 11 states that will engage more than 2,000 people for nearly 32,000 hours spent outside.

San Francisco, July 14, 2017—This year 2,076 people will have the opportunity to getoutside, many for the first time, and explore America’s waterways. The influx of participation is a result of the Paddle Nation Grant Program, an initiative connecting young people to their rivers, streams, lakes and oceans, funded by Outdoor Retailer, National Park Service and many paddle-sport manufacturers, retailers and stakeholders.

GirlVentures received $2,500 to support its work to engage diverse Bay Area girls through outdoor adventure and kayaking expeditions. Their courses provide the format and structure for girls to develop physical, emotional, and social tools that help them navigate not only the course, but also challenges in their families and communities when they return.

GirlVentures’ participants are intentionally diverse in experience, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. With Paddle Nation’s grant, 30 girls will have access to GirlVentures’ courses and each will spend approximately 100 hours experiencing the outdoors. Paddle Nation funding is providing necessary gear, tools and storage to support GirlVentures’ kayak fleets.

Unique in the outdoor industry, the Paddle Nation Grant Program was launched in 2012 with financial support and leadership from Outdoor Retailer and many companies in the paddle-sport industry, including Confluence Outdoor, Johnson Outdoors, Rutabaga Paddlesports, OARS, BIC Sports, Glenbrook, Advanced Elements, River Sport Outfitters and ACK. Leveraging this industry support, the National Park Service joined as a major funder in 2013, significantly expanding the grant program.

Since 2012, More than 80 projects have been funded with more than $212,000 given to noteworthy projects. Working with more than 50 different retailers, 13,746 individuals have gotten outside on waterways, including 8,908 youth. In total, 163,783 hours have been spent outside paddling.

“Thanks to the leadership and support of our partners, we are investing in the ideas and projects that drive a significant increase in participation on our waterways,” said Ivan Levin, deputy director of the Outdoor Foundation. “Through these Paddle Nation Grants, young people across the country will explore rivers, lakes and streams through a variety of activities — resulting in a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards.”

2017 nonprofit grant recipients include: Arkwings Foundation; Families in Nature; Friends of Ottawa County Parks, Inc.; GirlVentures; Horn of Africa Services; Jackson Street Youth Services; Layaya; Northwest Indiana Paddling Association; Palouse Prairie School; Riveredge Nature Center; and Stoked Mentoring Inc.

The Outdoor Foundation

Founded in 2000, the Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Through youth engagement, community grant-making, and groundbreaking research, the Foundation works with young leaders and partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In just five years, the Foundation has invested $4 million into 785 not-for-profit and college programs that have connected 200,000 young people to the outdoors. Importantly, 90¢ of every dollar goes directly into this critical work.

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Introducing our new Executive Director

GirlVentures is delighted to announce the selection of Emily Teitsworth as its new Executive Director. Emily will be responsible for the organization’s overall management, operations and development during this exciting next stage of growth. Emily started in her new position on May 16, 2017.

Emily brings over a decade of experience leading high impact domestic and global initiatives in leadership development and organizational management primarily focused around empowerment of women and girls. For the last eight years, Emily has worked for the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California.  Most recently, she served as Managing Director of Rise Up where she was instrumental in expanding its programs and spearheading several new initiatives targeting girls and women in 11 countries. Prior to her tenure at Rise Up, she was the Director of Programs at Let Girls Lead, a division of the Public Health Institute. A leader in public health and development programs benefiting girls, youth and women, Ms. Teitsworth holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University.

In making the announcement, GirlVentures Board of Directors President Gina McFarland said, “Emily brings a unique combination of leadership and operations experience, knowledge of the field, and deep personal commitment to the girls we serve. Emily is a proven leader, with a well-deserved reputation for integrity and commitment to excellence. We very much look forward to supporting Emily as she and the staff work to take GirlVentures to the next level of success.”


“I'm honored and excited to be joining GirlVentures to continue and scale the organization's incredible work to empower girls in the Bay Area and beyond. I look forward to collaborating with the staff and Board to create transformational leadership opportunities for girls and young women.”


GirlVentures was founded by two Bay Area women who met at the Harvard School of Education and studied the transition from childhood to adolescence among girls. They found that girls faced multiple emotional, physical and social challenges and that underserved girls from urban, low-income communities in particular need extra support and mentorship to foster the self-confidence, perseverance, and sense of community needed for academic, social and career success. Outdoor education, they found, and single-gender outdoor education in particular, fosters the positive qualities that girls need in order to face the challenges posed by the transitions of the teenage years.

Launched in 1997, we transitioned from a founder-­led start-up to a thriving and robust nonprofit serving approximately 135 girls annually across the Bay Area.

Los Altos Town Crier features GirlVentures

Campers from homes as far apart as Palo Alto and Petaluma form friendships on the expeditions, and a deliberate commitment to accessibility makes it an especially diverse group. GirlVentures offers an extensive library of everything from technical gear to basics that some families don’t stock - no long johns? No problem. Because the program also provides all transportation and food, and offers both scholarships and sliding-scale fees, it’s open to girls who otherwise might feel shut out from such an expedition.

After the intense bonding experience of two weeks in the wilderness, Hoffman said, girls form a strong sense of community, learning “how to be allies to one another, and find their individual and collective strengths.”
— Jane Ridgeway, Los Altos Town Crier

To read to full article, click here


Outdoor Adventure for Better Body Image

A study on GirlVentures alumna shows that we are having a positive effect on body image! A study in the Outdoor Journal of Recreation, Education and Leadership by Susie K. Barr-Wilson and Nina Roberts explores the positive influence of our instructors, other girls on course and connection with nature. 

"In contrast to the occasional harmful messages of mainstream culture, outdoor adventure programming can offer adolescent girls confidence and courage (Whittinton & Nixon Mack, 2010), physical competence and strength (Caulkins, White, & Russell 2006), relational skills (Sammet, 2010) and self-efficacy (Budbill, 2008)."

Read the whole article here