When Katlyn Grasso was a Girl Scout in Buffalo, NY, she delivered toiletry kits to victims of domestic violence, in order to win her Silver Award. Then she helped her troop collect books for children in the community, so she could win her Gold Award.
Her effort to provide for disadvantaged communities did not end when she received these awards, however. She’s been interested in social entrepreneurship for a long time, and the experiences with her Girl Scout troop and the responses that she got from the women and children they served only solidified her decision to make a difference.
About to enter her last year at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, she is the founder and CEO of GenHERation, a startup providing high school girls with opportunities to work with startups and corporations, thereby training them to be leaders in business.
She has been running GenHERation for over a year now – hosting summer camps, offering experiential learning, and building an online community – all while completing her economics degree at Wharton and staying involved in campus activities.
So far, she’s seen impressive success, and says that her strategy is to not think about her busy schedule but just to do it all.
Here’s her story:
I’m from Buffalo, NY, and when I was in high school I was heavily involved with Girl Scouts. My troop and I started two nonprofit organizations in order to earn our Silver and Gold Awards. I’ve been interested in entrepreneurship my entire life, but that’s what got me interested in social entrepreneurship. I knew that I wanted to continue helping people, but in a for-profit venture.
Our first Girl Scout nonprofit was called Comfort Kits, and we provided toiletries to victims of domestic violence and abuse in the Buffalo area. We raised money, put together these kits, and then delivered them to the women and children. That really was one of the most transformational experiences for me. It was a completely anonymous process, but after we dropped them off, we got thank-you cards from the girls, and one said, “Thank you so much for your donation, I recently saw my mom smile, and I haven’t seen her smile in a really long time.” I still have that one today. It was so moving to me, and that’s when I realized that I could make a difference in other people’s lives.