Using improv to strengthen girls’ leadership skills, our Funny Girls program is boosting and bolstering the power and potential of girls and maximizing their moxie!

For 20 years (we don’t feel that old), The Harnisch Foundation has been investing in the leadership of so many stellar women. Each woman’s path is different. Yet, so many women wished they’d developed their leadership skills earlier in life. After hearing this SO many times, we decided to do something about it. We developed a girls’ leadership curriculum, and being who we are, we added a creative twist: improv.

Our interest in improv as a teaching methodology started in 2013.After conversations with a multitude of girl leadership experts and improv instructors, corroborated by research from Harvard, we knew the time was ripe for a formal leadership-taught-through-improv curriculum aimed to help tween girls develop as leaders.

2018-19 Partnerships

Casita Maria CasitaMaria-girls-certificates Casita Maria
Center for Arts & Education
Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education is the first and oldest Latino charity in NYC, founded in 1934. The South Bronx-based community arts and educational organization presents diverse, contemporary visual and performing arts and education programming for all ages. Here’s to 80 years of empowering minds and igniting creativity! www.casitamaria.org
Girls for a Change Girls for a Change For more than 17 years, Girls For A Change has been supporting Black girls and other girls of color in Richmond, VA to visualize their power and potential through self discovery and development. Through the organization’s youth development programming, girls learn how to design, lead, fund, and implement projects that tackle problems in their communities. Breaking barriers, creating opportunities, and leading social change -- this organization and their girls win hearts and minds. www.girlsforachange.org Global Kids Global Kids Global Kids Global Kids is an educational organization with over 25 years of experience in New York City public schools offering hands-on leadership opportunities and educational programming that offers a global perspective within a human rights framework. Through their dynamic programs students develop leadership skills, engage in activism and social justice campaigns, and lead the change in their community. Inspiring youth to become global citizens and creating a pathway to be community leaders is their jam. www.globalkids.org SAYA SAYA SAYA Since 1996, South Asian Youth Action (SAYA) has been serving young people from diverse ethnic and religious communities through their youth development programming in New York City. While South Asian-focused, SAYA is committed to connecting youth from all backgrounds to opportunities. Whether they are providing academic support, leadership and identity development, or sports, arts, and STEM training, their MO is to foster a strong sense of belonging in youth and provide them with the tools to thrive academically, professionally, and personally. www.saya.org Red Hook Initiative ArabAmericanFamily SupportCenter Arab-American
Family Support Center
AAFSC empowers new immigrants in downtown Brooklyn with the tools they need to successfully acclimate to the world around them and become active participants in their communities. Their youth programs encourage the positive development of leadership skills, academic excellence, and community values like equity, justice and peace. aafscny.org
Arab-American Family Support Center RedHookInitiative Red Hook Initiative RHI believes that social change to overcome systemic inequities begins with empowered youth. In partnership with community adults, they nurture young people in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to be inspired, resilient and healthy, and to envision themselves as co-creators of their lives, community and society. RHI envisions a Red Hook where all young people can pursue their dreams and grow into independent adults who contribute to their families and community. Through youth empowerment pipelines and community building principles, RHI both transforms individual lives and creates systemic change. rhicenter.org

2018-19 Partnerships

Casita Maria CasitaMaria-girls-certificates Casita Maria
Center for Arts & Education
Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education is the first and oldest Latino charity in NYC, founded in 1934. The South Bronx-based community arts and educational organization presents diverse, contemporary visual and performing arts and education programming for all ages. Here’s to 80 years of empowering minds and igniting creativity! www.casitamaria.org
Girls for a Change GirlsForAChange Girls for a Change For more than 17 years, Girls For A Change has been supporting Black girls and other girls of color in Richmond, VA to visualize their power and potential through self discovery and development. Through the organization’s youth development programming, girls learn how to design, lead, fund, and implement projects that tackle problems in their communities. Breaking barriers, creating opportunities, and leading social change -- this organization and their girls win hearts and minds. www.girlsforachange.org Global Kids Global Kids Global Kids Global Kids is an educational organization with over 25 years of experience in New York City public schools offering hands-on leadership opportunities and educational programming that offers a global perspective within a human rights framework. Through their dynamic programs students develop leadership skills, engage in activism and social justice campaigns, and lead the change in their community. Inspiring youth to become global citizens and creating a pathway to be community leaders is their jam. www.globalkids.org SAYA SAYA SAYA Since 1996, South Asian Youth Action (SAYA) has been serving young people from diverse ethnic and religious communities through their youth development programming in New York City. While South Asian-focused, SAYA is committed to connecting youth from all backgrounds to opportunities. Whether they are providing academic support, leadership and identity development, or sports, arts, and STEM training, their MO is to foster a strong sense of belonging in youth and provide them with the tools to thrive academically, professionally, and personally. www.saya.org Red Hook Initiative RedHookInitiative Red Hook Initiative RHI believes that social change to overcome systemic inequities begins with empowered youth. In partnership with community adults, they nurture young people in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to be inspired, resilient and healthy, and to envision themselves as co-creators of their lives, community and society. RHI envisions a Red Hook where all young people can pursue their dreams and grow into independent adults who contribute to their families and community. Through youth empowerment pipelines and community building principles, RHI both transforms individual lives and creates systemic change. rhicenter.org Arab American Family Support Center ArabAmericanFamily SupportCenter Arab-American
Family Support
Center
AAFSC empowers new immigrants in downtown Brooklyn with the tools they need to successfully acclimate to the world around them and become active participants in their communities. Their youth programs encourage the positive development of leadership skills, academic excellence, and community values like equity, justice and peace. aafscny.org

Buzz for Funny Girls

NBC_Nightly_News “They’re loud, playful and funny. But what’s happening here is really serious.” – Rehema Ellis, NBC Nightly News
“‘Programs like Funny Girls can teach girls how to empower themselves, to make their voices heard, take on leadership roles and stand up for themselves instead of shying away from opportunities,’ Lisalee Ibanez of Global Kids said.” – Forbes
“By the end [of one of the exercises], the girls are beginning to understand how to pivot when something isn’t working to find a creative new strategy that just might. That’s an important skill for an improv comedian, but it’s also critical for CEOs, politicians, and just about every leadership position there is.” – Shay Maunz, Glamour

FAQ

1. How can I become a Funny Girls partner?

We work with organizations that advance social justice values and share an interest in developing girls’ leadership. We are not accepting proposals at this time. If you know a girl-serving social justice organization that we should partner with in the future, we’d love to hear! Email us at hello@funnygirls.org. Also, be the first to receive news and updates by signing up for our Funny Girls newsletter.

2. How can I get my Funny Girl involved?

We partner with social justice organizations to implement the Funny Girls curriculum, and we currently do not offer individual sign-ups. We are working to offer the program outside of our current partnerships. Be the first to receive the news and updates by signing up for our Funny Girls newsletter.

3. How can I become a Funny Girls instructor?

We currently train instructors from within our partner organizations. In 2019, we will be working to train more instructors in the Funny Girls curriculum. If you love improv and girls’ leadership, and are interested to learn more about this opportunity, send us a note of inquiry at hello@funnygirls.org. Also, make sure you receive news and updates by signing up for our Funny Girls newsletter.

4. Why did you choose improv to teach leadership skills?

In improv there is no right or wrong, every contribution is valued (Yes, AND…), and collaboration is key. With perfection and failure held at bay, a safe space is created, allowing the girls to tap into their inherent abilities as leaders and “try on” leadership skills.

5. I love the comedy angle! Tell me more.

Funny Girls isn’t actually teaching girls to be funny or grooming the next stand-up comedian star. We are boosting girls’ leadership skills using improv as the methodology, and yes, a little humor. Also, when learning is made fun with a bit of humor, students are more engaged and have a higher retention of learning concepts.

6. Why did you choose girls in grades 3-8?

We chose to focus on girls grades 3-8 because this is a pivotal time in their social and emotional development. It’s also a critical time in a girl’s life to boost self-esteem and influence self-perception — an identity that she may carry with her into her later adolescence and adulthood. Funny Girls is reaching girls at a key moment with the hopes of bolstering their belief in themselves as leaders.