Women's Adventure Travel's Partner Organizations
Updated: Oct 22
WAT has partnered with a variety of like-minded organizations that empower and support women and girls at home and around the world.
In 1996, teacher and triathlete Molly Barker founded Girls on the Run. She wanted to create a positive, productive space for adolescent girls to gain confidence and healthy life habits. Nearly 25 years have passed, and GOTR programming has reached over 1.9 million girls. The organization has formed 200 independent Councils across the United States, and the District of Columbia created the most extensive 5k series in the U.S. and continued its mission of health and positivity.
GOTR runs 10-week programs for girls from 3rd to 8th grade. The Girls on the Run program serves the younger group, and Heart and Sole serve middle schoolers. Both programs include group discussions, running, and games; they culminate in a community service project and a 5k event. They offer scholarship programs to maximize the number of girls who can participate, furthering their mission to spread a “lifetime appreciation” for fitness.
A survey conducted by Dr. Maureen Weiss, an expert on Positive Youth Development, found that 97% of girls in the program learned critical life skills. 85% of girls improved in one GOTR focus area: confidence, character, care, connections, competence, and contribution.
One of WAT’s partner affiliates within GOTR is the GOTR Lancaster Chapter, which opened in the Fall of 2009. Within its first ten years, it worked with 14,800 girls. It boasts an all-women staff, headed up by Executive Director Carrie Johnson.
In addition, WAT has partnered with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Montgomery and Delaware County in PA, Silicon Valley, Utah and Charleston.
As the pandemic continues, GOTR remains determined to bolster adolescent girls. GOTR Philadelphia ran their Virtual 5k from May 23rd to the 31st, encouraging participants to complete a 5k in a safe area near their homes. They could run, bike, swim, or skip, sharing pictures from individual 5k experiences with @gotrphilly on Twitter.
GOTR Lancaster ran a similar event from May 29th to 31st. This Virtual 5Ks, like the in-person runs, have a service element. The Lancaster Council encourages participants to donate to their organization and the Lebanon Financial Assistance Fund.
The Lancaster Council website assures, “We continue to stay centered on inspiring all girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident. Now more than ever, we remain committed to ensuring the social, emotional, and mental health of our girls.”
Girls, Inc. provides resources to ensure the safety, education, and future professional success to the girls that it serves. It challenges the barriers that hold girls back, whether they be gender-based, economic, or social. Through a three-pronged programming approach, the organization provides access to a “pro-girl” environment and long-term mentoring relationships.
From the post-Civil War landscape of 1864 to today's changing social climate, Girls Inc. has served girls in their schools and communities. It has always emphasized community, health, education, and the potential of all girls. In the modern-day, Girls Inc. focuses on girls of color and girls from low-income communities.
The Girls Bill of Rights, an organization manifesto, sets forth a six-pronged list of declarations starting with the phrase "girls have the right to." It asserts girls' rights to express themselves, resist gender stereotypes, and achieve confident independence in the world, among other things.
Girls, Inc. programming incorporates three main tenants. Healthy Living supports physical activity and body positivity. Academic Enrichment and Support aids academic performance while Life Skills Instruction promotes introspection, emotional health, and self-control. Girls, Inc. develops its educational programs on a research-based platform. Their extensive research library covers dozens of topics affecting girls, including relationships, economics, and sexuality.
The organization's five-year Strategic Plan, outlined in 2016, focuses on the Girls, Inc. Bold Goal: to lead as an advocate for the opportunities of all girls. It lays out how the organization hopes to grow, including incorporating more girls from low-income communities and expanding its external network.
One of WAT's partners in Girls' Inc is the Girls, Inc. chapter of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. This regional organization serves 3,013 girls. Dena R. Herrin, the chapter's Executive Director, has been at the helm since 2015. Under her leadership, its staff has increased by six times, and revenues have grown from $200,000 to $1.1 million.
WAT has also partnered with the Portland and Seattle chapter and the West Contra Costa County in California.
In the pandemic context, the majority of Girls, Inc.’s learning programs have moved online. Many chapters have worked to address COVID-related problems that affect low-income families, such as food insecurity. The organization remains committed to serving girls both in and outside of their academic lives.
Dress for Success
Dress for Success provides professional clothing and support to women. By doing so, it empowers them to succeed in their chosen career fields and achieve economic independence. Nancy Lublin founded the non-profit as a law student in 1997, and it has since expanded to 150 cities in 25 countries. It has drawn over 13,000 annual volunteers and worked with 1.2 million women, making a far-reaching impact.
The central leadership of Dress for Success works from Dress for Success Worldwide, located in New York City. Its primary administrators are all women, working under Chief Executive Officer Joi Gordon. Its board includes representatives from an array of organizations, including Blue Apron, Capital One, and O, The Oprah Magazine.
Affiliate Dress for Success locations has independent policies and staff, fulfilling the organization’s overall mission in community-specific ways. Dress for Success aims to work alongside a variety of community-serving agencies, including schools, immigration service offices, domestic violence, and homeless shelters, and job training programs.
Across the world, Dress for Success operates on a volunteer-centric basis. It provides affiliates with resources to hold Suit Drives, in which participants can donate new or lightly used professional clothing. Dress for Success boutiques provides women with suitings before interviews. Also, boutique workers offer women professional and emotional support.
WAT works with Dress for Success leadership in Denver, Albuquerque, Twin Cities, Reno, Columbus, Rochester, and Northern New Jersey in the US. Globally, WAT has joined forces with Toronto and Kelowna in Canada and with chapters in New Zealand and Australia.
Due to COVID, the Buffalo chapter has temporarily closed its boutique and stopped accepting donations. However, it’s forming a plan to reopen soon. Various chapters in Australia and New Zealand, headed up by Rosemary Daly, have run virtual sales and donation events.
The pandemic has strained global economics and increased unemployment, so Dress for Success is more necessary. 90% of its affiliates have pivoted to offer online career services and support. Hundreds of newcomers have engaged with the organization throughout Spring 2020. Dress for Success continues to work tirelessly to achieve its mission as they adapt their methods
In New York 1901, Mary Harriman and Nathalie founded the first Junior League. They hoped to create a trained network of women volunteers who could work for the social good of their communities. Over the next twenty years, Junior Leagues popped up in most major United States cities. In 1921, they formed the Association of Junior Leagues of America. In 1971, they renamed it the Association of Junior Leagues, Inc.; this body still promotes fundraising and volunteer work today.
JLS released a 5-year Strategic Plan in 2016, outlining “League-Wide Initiatives for a Healthy JLS.” This plan emphasizes inclusion, communication, lifelong membership, and ensuring sustainable revenue to achieve JLS service goals.
Junior League activities and priorities can vary widely. WAT works with the Junior League of Seattle, an organization of 1300 women. Under President Kimberly French, it focuses on women, children, and families to ensure food security, literacy, and women’s access to career skills. It provides leadership development and community-centric service opportunities to its volunteers, who dedicate over 45,000 annual service hours and 5,000 hours for professional development.
The Junior League of Seattle places particular emphasis on youth literacy. They provide reading materials to children in middle and low-income families through book drives and Little Free Libraries. They also run story-times to encourage engagement.
The Seattle Junior League works on a variety of additional events and projects. These include Eve of the Eve, a high-end fundraising event on December 30th, and the Catalyst Luncheon, an event for the League’s Community Partners. For the past three years, it has run The Little Black Dress Initiative, a fundraiser in which members wear black dresses to spark conversation about youth literacy.
Due to COVID, JLS has canceled its annual Northwest Exchange. This network event features a member panel called Women with Impact and a weekend of workshops on subjects like leadership development. Despite changes like this one, JLS continues to promote its core values of service and community.
Women's Adventure Travels 5% Give Back Factor
WAT gives five percent of all trips profits directly back to the community or country visited. Also, if anyone from WAT's partner chapters books a group or individual trip, WAT continues to give back to the local community visited.
Also, WAT gives five percent directly back to that organization's specific chapter as well. WAT is committed to joining forces with like-minded individuals and organizations as WAT's Adventuress in Chief. Karen Loftus believes that two hands are better than one and that it takes a global village to raise women and girls worldwide.
However, large or small, please consider giving to any of the mentioned WAT partners and organizations mentioned above.
Written by Olivia Cipperman