OCT 8, 2019 - Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay’s Taryn-Marie Jenkins of Wilmington, Delaware, has been named a 2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout by Girl Scouts of the USA for her Girl Scout Gold Award project Jumping the Hurdles – Foster Care to College, an innovative, sustainable initiative that helps youth in foster care transition to college. The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through Take Action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities -- and beyond. Each year, Girl Scouts of the USA recognizes 10 girls out of hundreds as National Gold Award Girl Scouts through a rigorous selection process. Taryn-Marie will receive her award in New York on October 11, International Day of the Girl.
For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Taryn-Marie created tools to reach youth in foster care while they are in junior high school to help them learn how to successfully transition to college. The tools include a play book (website and brochure), social media, and college kits. The kits are provided to youths as they enter college and contain a variety of donated items to help them get started, such as bed linens, luggage, towels, soap, gift cards, a suggested to-do list, and a compilation of inspirational quotes for encouragement, among other items. They were developed through a partnership Taryn-Marie formed with the Sanford School Home and School Association when she was a student at Sanford in Hockessin.
Less than 10 percent of youth in foster care attend college. At age 18, they are no longer eligible for foster care and often lack basic support to help them navigate life after high school.
“The foster care system stretches out across the U.S., but solutions that solve for problems for one state can probably do the same for all states. I learned so much from this project about courage, confidence and character, and making the world a better place -- it really opened my eyes to the power of giving and how it catches on,” Taryn-Marie Jenkins said, adding “I am generally an active behind-the-scenes type of person, but this experience taught me that quiet leadership is just as important and effective as being the most outspoken person in the room.”
Taryn-Marie said she was inspired by watching her mother coordinate a service project related to foster care youth already in college.
“Experiencing the people that I inspired through this project has made me grow in terms of my understanding of how to get things done, seeing the big picture, and empowerment,” she noted.
Taryn-Marie’s mother Karen Jenkins said Girl Scouting helped build her daughter’s confidence, taught her leadership skills, and showed her how to achieve goals.
“The skills that are taught in Girl Scouting help them feel confident about themselves and then they are able to transfer those skills and use them as they go forward in life,” Karen said. “Girl Scouts is worth it, I would encourage everyone to stay with it.”
“Our hearts are filled with love and pride for Taryn-Marie, an exemplary Girl Scout with GSCB for 13 years, beginning as a Daisy Girl Scout and reaching the pinnacle as an Ambassador Girl Scout who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award,” said GSCB CEO Claudia Peña Porretti, J.D., CFRE. “Now, with Taryn-Marie joining the vaulted ranks of the National Gold Award Girl Scouts, she has achieved a rare and remarkable distinction. We applaud her troop leaders, service unit managers and all the other Girl Scout volunteers who guided her journey through Girl Scouting, and we congratulate Taryn-Marie and her family on this high honor.”
Taryn-Marie is only the second GSCB Girl Scout to become a National Gold Award Girl Scout. To be considered, girls must successfully earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, an achievement realized by only 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts nationally.
Fueled by passion, persistence, and a resistance to accept the status quo, the National Gold Award Girl Scouts were selected from an impressive pool of this year’s Gold Award Girl Scouts nationwide for their extraordinary leadership and ability to develop lasting solutions—and achieve remarkable results—for critical issues in their communities and beyond. Girl Scouts who earn the Gold Award not only change the world for the better, they change it for good.
“Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay is very proud of Taryn-Marie for being named a National Gold Award Girl Scout. This prestigious award recognizes the top Girl Scout activists and changemakers nationally addressing today’s most pressing issues,” said GSCB Board Chair Katya Nieburg-Wheeler. “Taryn-Marie and her Girl Scout Gold Award project Jumping the Hurdles— Foster Care to College poignantly exemplify the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, character and confidence who make the world a better place.”
“This year’s National Gold Award Girl Scouts have truly distinguished themselves as visionary leaders,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “In a time when an increasing number of young people are using their voices to come together and take action, these girls stand out. They have made an incredible impact in the worlds of STEM, education, agriculture, the environment, civil rights, and beyond. While they are making the world a better place, they are also investing in themselves; Gold Award Girl Scouts are more likely to earn college scholarships and achieve higher education and career outcomes, and they can enlist in the military at a higher pay grade. We’re proud to support Girl Scouts across the country as they drive meaningful and lasting change in their communities and beyond.”
National Gold Award Girl Scout nominations underwent a rigorous multi-round review process. Finalist applications were reviewed by a panel of previous National Gold Award Girl Scouts, leaders from a diverse array of fields, GSUSA staff, National Volunteer partners, and representatives from the Kappa Delta Foundation and Arconic Foundation. This year’s National Gold Award Girl Scouts will receive a combined $100,000 in college scholarships from Susan Bulkeley Butler, founder of a women’s leadership development organization and a former member of the Girl Scouts of the USA Board of Directors. The Kappa Delta Foundation and Arconic Foundation also each generously contributed $50,000 in college scholarships for the 2019 cohort.