By Katlyn Grasso W’15, Founder of GenHERation
At 4:03 AM in the morning, my team met at the entrance of the Philadelphia airport with eight suitcases, four banners, and optimistic smiles. As part of the first GenHERation Summer Leadership Series, we were scheduled to visit five cities in the next seven days to hold workshops for more than 500 girls across the United States. GenHERation is a female empowerment network for millennial girls. We provide girls the opportunity to work with national corporations and nonprofit organizations to develop their own advocacy campaigns to address community issues. After receiving the 2014 Wharton Venture Award, I dedicated my summer to the national expansion of GenHERation.
As I prepared for the summer, I realized that one of the best ways to strengthen the GenHERation community was through offline events that allowed girls to connect with their peers and female professionals. During the GenHERation Summer Leadership series, we organized skill-building exercises, featured 20 female executives from 15 different industries, and awarded more than $5,000 in scholarships. Priyanka, a GenHERation member from Philadelphia, is a proponent of offline engagement. “I liked the panel of women in different occupations. It was very informative and offered proof that women are more than capable of being leaders in their fields. I met some really intelligent girls and enjoyed collaborating with them. It also proved that young women can be leaders and work together when there is a clear focus.”
The GenHERation Summer Leadership Series was a transformational experience that solidified my desire to work on my venture full-time after graduation. Through strategic marketing efforts, including school partnerships, corporate collaborations, and national events, the GenHERation community has grown from 250 to 5,000 girls across the country. Although numerical metrics are essential for analysis, the true impact GenHERation can have on a girl’s confidence and personal development is not quantifiable. The ability to change the way a girl views her role in the world is the most fulfilling part of my work. Empowering girls is a long-term investment in the future that requires dedication and commitment from the international community.
To expand upon the success of the GenHERation Summer Leadership Series, we will be holding our first regional conference, the GenHERation Connection 2014 Philadelphia, on Saturday, November 15 at the Penn Museum. This event will consist of a series of female speakers from five different companies, interactive group challenges, live performances, and more than $2,000 in scholarships. We have also partnered with the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls to hold a social business pitch competition. Girls can submit their proposals for a social business or a community service project on our website by Sunday, November 9. Four finalists will be selected to present at the conference for the chance to receive a $500 grant and a project mentor. For more information about the GenHERation Connection 2014 Philadelphia visit www.genheration.com/genheration-connection.
Bio: Katlyn Grasso, a senior at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from Hamburg, New York, is pursuing a B.S. in Economics with concentrations in finance and strategic globalization. She is the Founder and CEO of GenHERation, a female empowerment network for high school girls. Katlyn is the Managing Practice Leader of the Wharton Small Business Development Center, the Co-President of Wharton Ambassadors, the National Student Ambassador for Women in Toys, and performs with Soundworks Tap Factory. Katlyn is a member of Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program with her startup GenHERation and has conducted international research on leadership development.