A Leap for Women’s Empowerment through Design
After studying the future of education at Stanford's d.school, Katie Kirsch went on to start a non-profit focused on women's empowerment. "When you pursue your passion and carve your own path, there is no limit to what you can learn, achieve, and create."
Imagine a room filled with brightly colored boxes stacked along the walls and surrounded by bundles of quiz cards, notebooks, stickers, post-its, binder clips, and sharpies. There’s a whiteboard in the corner displaying drawings for a new marketing graphic, and on the computer beside it, Adobe Illustrator is starting to load and Google Calendar is jumping around with reminders of upcoming calls with girls leadership groups that day. And then there’s me, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the room with a cup of coffee, ready to begin another day on the job. Welcome to my office!
My journey as a designer and entrepreneur began about four years ago when I took my first class in the Stanford d.school, and one of the amazing individuals I met in that class was Victor Saad.
It was a project-based course that revolved around shaping the future of education in creative new ways, from designing physical workspaces to developing transformative online learning platforms. Looking back, one theme especially stood out to both Victor and me — that when you pursue your passion and carve your own path, there is no limit to what you can learn, achieve, and create.
Victor went off to start the Experience Institute, which inspires and enables individuals to take unconventional “leaps” in their education and careers by pausing to pursue projects they’re most curious about. I went off to start Girls Driving for a Difference, which empowers girls to create and pursue their own unique mission statements towards leading and innovating a better future. And along the way, we evolved from being colleagues in the classroom to business partners in the real world. This summer, I’m excited to join Leap Summer’s Founding Class and receive support from Victor and the Ei community as Girls Driving for a Difference expands in a new way.
Last year, our team developed a design thinking and leadership workshop curriculum geared towards empowering girls to become leaders of social change. The workshop, called “Find Your Drive,” is composed of teamwork activities and self-reflection exercises inspired by the design methodologies we had initially learned as students in the Stanford d.school.
Today, “Find Your Drive” has been featured in Fast Company, endorsed by one of the top innovation companies in the world, sponsored by over 500 backers on Kickstarter, and celebrated by hundreds of girls and educators from schools, programs, and organizations across the nation. Zooming out, it’s a workshop that contributes one more resource to the larger cause of empowering young women today to become the leaders and change-makers of tomorrow.
The Teaching Toolkit
This summer, we launched the G.D.D. Teaching Toolkit — it’s a “workshop in a box” that includes all the materials and information educators need to share this workshop with communities of their own.
The kit comes with a personal Facilitation Guide, which includes photos, instructions, and advice on how to run each game and activity, and an online training course with videos of the workshop coached in real-time. Learn more
Women’s Empowerment: Our Mission
This mission of women’s empowerment extends far beyond us, as a team of four women — it’s about all of us working together to inspire our girls to share their voice, strength, confidence, and ideas with the rest of the world.
If you’re involved with a group of girls — such as at a middle school, in a Girl Scout troop, or with an after-school or summer program — and are interested in inspiring your girls in a creative new way, the Toolkit is designed to fit right in. It complements the work you’re already doing and enables you to expose the girls more to design thinking, a new lens for creative problem-solving and exploring their role as leaders.
The youngest generation of women today are our future, and it’s both our duty and our privilege to give them the right tools and inspiration to spread their wings.