Between childhood and womanhood, girls encounter a phenomenon known as "losing voice," according to studies published at Harvard University.

74% of 12 year olds surveyed by Girl Scouts of America listed "improving the world around me" as one of their favorite activities, but a lack of confidence holds them back from taking leadership in the areas of social change they care most about. In fact, only 1/3 of middle-school girls today believe they can be a leader.


That's where we come in. Girls Driving for a Difference, founded in October of 2014, is a team of four Stanford women designing and teaching workshops that empower middle-school girls to become leaders of social change.

What's the key? Design thinking: a creative problem-solving tool that helps girls explore their passions and think outside of the box about their abilities to change the world.

Our Workshop

Since 2014, we've been coaching 2 hour-long design thinking and leadership workshops called "Find Your Drive," geared towards empowering middle school girls to become leaders of social change.

We first designed our workshop as students at Stanford University, drawing inspiration from the Stanford d.school's design thinking methodology to inspire girl power in creative new ways. Now our workshops have been featured in Fast Company and endorsed by IDEO, Lean In, the Center for Creative Leadership, and more.

Our workshop is proven to make a difference.

During our workshop, girls work to identify their unique strengths, discover their leadership style, and reframe problems in the world as opportunities, boosting their confidence and motivation to become a leader and innovate for a better future. Girls graduate from our workshop with a personal mission statement for improving the world around them.

Over 1500 girls have been impacted by this curriculum in the past year, many of them using what they learned to start creative, entrepreneurial projects at their schools, in their Girl Scout troops, and beyond.

I usually teach girls how to code, but I’ve realized girls don’t want to learn programming “just because”... they want to use the technology to do something. The GDD workshop helped us ask girls, “What kind of problem do you want to solve?” And now the girls have a reason to keep coding.
— Gigi Read, Director of Chrysalis Girls Camp

Meet the founders

Jenna Leonardo

Co-Founder, Co-President

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Katie Kirsch

Co-Founder, Co-President

Rachel H. Chung

Director of Marketing

Natalya Thakur

Director of Finance


Last summer of 2015, our team jumped on the road in an RV to bring our workshop to girls and communities across the nation.

In 14 weeks, we crossed 30 states, coached 55 workshops, and reached over 1200 middle school girls nationwide. We worked with a diverse range of communities, including Boys and Girls Clubs, sports teams, Girl Scout troops, and more. Sometimes, we also hosted pop-up events at libraries, museums, and innovation hubs, open to anyone in the area who signed up.




Before jumping on the road, we launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign that raised $35k from 516 backers.

Our Kickstarter campaign helped us raise not only the financial support to coach all of our workshops for free as we drove across the country, but also the community support to reach the right organizations and young women with our workshops.

we invite you to host a workshop!

We believe that teaching design thinking & girls leadership should be super fun, easy to learn, and accessible for everyone. That's why we've worked hard to package all of our best practices together in one box. All you need to get started is a Teaching Toolkit!


about the teaching toolkit

The Teaching Toolkit is a "workshop in a box" -- it includes all the materials and info you'll need to bring our design thinking and leadership tools to your community of girls. To get started...

  1. Order your Teaching Toolkit online.
  2. As Workshop Day approaches, check out our online tutorials that contain step-by-step instructions, photos, and videos to show you how the workshop works in real-time. The course is completely self-paced, so start whenever you're ready and feel free to come back to it over time to refresh your memory!

Questions? We invite you to schedule a phone-call to chat with our team or email us at hello@girlsdrivingforadifference.com.


what kind of impact do you want to create?

Use the toolkit to...

  • Kick-off the new school-year in an inspiring and meaningful way. All of the teamwork and creativity in the workshop helps students bond, celebrate each other's strengths, and gain confidence in sharing ideas of their own.
  • Try design thinking for the first time in your Girl Scout troop, classroom, summer camp, program, or event.
  • Create a space for girls to connect as leaders and change-makers in your school or community.
  • Add a social impact mission and purpose to the STEM work that your community might already be doing. For example, if your girls are learning to code, take the next step and show them how to use their programming skills to make a difference in the world.
  • Empower high school women to coach a workshop and become even stronger mentors, leaders, and role-models for younger girls at their school. Are you in high school? Learn more about our high school leadership program: Girls Drive HS.

The Teaching Toolkit can be used to coach as many workshops as you'd like. Just keep re-stocking the kit with post-its and print-out packets, and you'll be all set to go!

GDD gives you everything you need to succeed. It’s so empowering and rewarding as a coach to see girls realize they can use their individual strengths and passions to drive for real change in the world.
— Kris Loew, Girls Middle School educator (CA)


We've delivered almost 50 toolkits so far, partnering with a variety of schools and organizations across the US. Here are just a few:

We work in a school where 91% of our kids are on free and reduced lunch/breakfast and our population is very high need. Last year, our 7th grade girls struggled to get along. For the workshop, we brought 30 of these girls together with the idea of showing them their own strengths and the strengths of others.

Long story short, WE LOVED THIS WORKSHOP. Girls of all backgrounds with all sorts of history with each other came together. The staff who led the workshop were so pleased with how it went.

The girls created posters with mission statements that will be hung up in the hallways when they start school next week. We are going to continue working with the girls so they can make the changes they wrote on their mission statements.
— Maria Lantz, Harding Middle School (Des Moines, IA)



Girls Leadership Hairties


Our cute and colorful hairties come in packs of 8, along with a little letter from the team!

Each color represents a Leadership Style. Channel your positive energy with yellow, your organization with blue, your compassion with pink, and your confidence with green.


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Say hello

We invite you to reach out to our team over email at hello@girlsdrivingforadifference.com.