Funny Girls

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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!

Funny Girls is growing! Funny Girls is growing! Now in our third year, we are proud to announce our 2019 partnerships with five rockstar organizations. Learn more about our partners below and consider investing in them (and girls’ leadership), too.

For 20 years (we don’t feel that old) we’ve 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.

In 2015, the creation of Funny Girls began! In partnership with the Magnet Theater and Pilobolus, the Funny Girls curriculum matched developmentally-appropriate improv exercises with corresponding leadership skills such as self-awareness, learning agility, collaboration, empathy, and resiliency. In 2016, we ran an NYC-based pilot with the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, HYPOTHEkids at Teachers College Community School, and Riverdale Country School, giving us the opportunity to test and modify the program based on the girls’ input (learn more about them in our Facebook photo album).

In Fall 2017, we officially launched the program with partner organizations that pack a punch for girls’ leadership while advancing social justice values to boot. Since then, partners have included Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, DreamYard, Girls For A Change, Global Kids, Red Hook Initiative and South Asian Youth Action. The foundation provides partners with Funny Girls curriculum training in addition to giving a financial boost to their other stellar programming through general support grants.

The hoped-for outcome? Girls will self-identify as leaders in their schools and communities. Another outcome? Philanthropy plays a role in supporting the next generation of leaders.

Buzz for Funny Girls

TEDWomen “At TEDWomen2018, FunnyGirls… were selected to lead a (sold-out!) workshop for TEDsters willing to drop their inhibitions and throw themselves into the scary fun of doing weird things with strangers.” – TED Women
New Moon Girls Our article for New Moon Girls’ young readers highlights the five core leadership skills of the Funny Girls curriculum. We also include a short game for readers to play with friends and family that lets their inner leader shine. We love helping girls to acknowledge and nurture their own natural leadership abilities!
Udemy Our Executive Director, Jenny Raymond, made a visit to SF for the first ever Udemy Women’s Summit to lead an inspiring Funny Girls improv and leadership activity for all participants!
Philanthropy Women “Programs fostering self-esteem and leadership skills in girls are not uncommon. What is unusual is the use of improv as the tool to achieve these ends.” – Tim Lehnert, Philanthropy Women
Amy Poehler's Smart Girls Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls created this spunky short video about Funny Girls– it’s gotten over 160K views so far!
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


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 [email protected]. 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 2018, we are 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 [email protected]. 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.