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Downers Grove

Downers Grove resident wins prestigious Girl Scout award

Therese Malinowski
Therese Malinowski

DOWNERS GROVE - Downers Grove resident Therese Malinowski recently was named a 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scout—one of 10 teen activists who have shown extraordinary leadership and created change with sustainable impact on pressing issues Americans face today.

By tackling important social issues and other challenges, Malinowski and other National Gold Award Girl Scout honorees have found ambitious ways to lead the charge and transform the world. And Gold Award Girl Scouts not only create immediate positive change, but they make a sustainable impact that will continue to benefit others for years to come.

The world has experienced significant change this year, and Girl Scouts are continuing to transform their communities in thoughtful, innovative ways.

After someone she knew went through a sexual assault crisis in eighth grade, and knowing sexual violence affects hundreds of Americans every day, Malinowksi, a freshman at Purdue University, became passionate about advocacy and justice to widen information access and discussion about this issue.

Learning that campus sexual assault statistics are often purposefully covered up and resources for students are often buried online, Malinowski created a database that promotes sexual assault information transparency and safer schools to help students understand the reality of the issue.

She collaborated with a mentor from the Family Shelter Service of Metropolitan Family Services DuPage and built a team that organized and compiled a database that encompasses crime statistics, reporting history, student resources and general information.

Malinowski’s advocacy brought local and statewide attention to the issue, and the database currently is listed as a statewide sexual assault resource through an Illinois organization.

“Girl Scouts provides young women with progressive opportunities to speak truth to power, challenge the status quo and take action to change the world for the better. We are so proud to honor Therese as a National Gold Award Girl Scout. By being brave, bold, and compassionate, she will inspire thousands of other girls to know that one person can, indeed, start a movement,” Nancy Wright, CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, said in a statement.

As our country looks to today’s youth as tomorrow’s leaders, Gold Award Girl Scouts continue to lead the change they want to see in the world.

“We are immensely proud of the 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scouts.They are addressing issues that impact their community and matter to them,” interim Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Judith Batty. “To earn the Gold Award, Girl Scouts must identify the source of a problem, develop a sustainable solution and engage their communities in bringing about that solution. "

Thousands of Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award each year, the highest achievement a Girl Scout in high school can earn for tackling an issue that is dear to her and driving lasting change in her community and beyond.

Annually, GSUSA recognizes 10 of these girls as National Gold Award Girl Scouts for completing projects that exemplify strong leadership and sustainable impact. Earning the Gold Award opens doors to scholarships, preferred admission tracks for college and amazing career opportunities as well as skills that set girls up for success.

National Gold Award Girl Scout nominations underwent a rigorous multi-round review process, with finalist applications reviewed by a panel of previous National Gold Award Girl Scouts, leaders from a range of professional fields, GSUSA staff, Girl Scouts’ national volunteer partners and representatives from the Kappa Delta Foundation and Arconic Foundation.

The 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scouts will receive a combined $100,000 in college scholarships from Susan Bulkeley Butler, founder of a women’s leadership development organization and a former member of the Girl Scouts of the USA Board of Directors. The Kappa Delta Foundation and Arconic Foundation each contributed $50,000 in college scholarships.

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