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GirlTrek is building the largest movement of Black women this country has ever seen. Through this report, we invite you to take a look behind the scenes at what it took to scale this movement in 2019—the incredible highs and a few soul-crushing lows. In these pages, we will reflect on what we are learning as we grow and what we see on the horizon. We invite you to really experience this report. Find a quiet place, take a 15-minute self-care break and dive in. See the faces. Read the names. Then take a walk afterward and as you walk, imagine the new world of possibilities that is opening up for women and their families with each step that is taken. Know that this is a revolution and you have a front-row seat.


CONTENTS 01

THE HEALTH CRISIS

02

GIRLTREK IS A SOLUTION

03

INFRASTRUCTURE

04

PARTNERSHIPS

05

GIRLTREK IN SELMA

06

SAVING LIVES

07

REACH

08

PARTNERS

09

LOOKING AHEAD


2019 YEAR IN REVIEW GirlTrek’s membership more than doubled

on the ground in Selma. GirlTrek’s movement

in size in just one year! It’s official, with 126%

of everyday women continues to do what no

growth in 2019, we are scaling and well on

billionaire-dollar weight loss company or public

our way to one million women walking. Each

health campaign has done. Black women are

week gets better, and in the month of October,

walking and saving their lives. In 2019, more

we averaged 15,000 new members per week-

women started walking at life-saving levels,

-that’s 60,000 Black women who committed

more women lost weight, more women got

to walking 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day

off meds. This is why we work so hard. Black

in just one month. We expect to continue

women need this sacred sisterhood. This

the current trajectory and meet MISSION

movement is changing the health trajectories

ACCOMPLISHED by the end of 2020 thanks

of hundreds of thousands of Black women who

to GirlTrek’s investments in infrastructure and

suffer from preventable diseases and we are

partnerships.

just getting started.

2019 was necessary for scale. We spent the

In the pages that follow you will experience the

first quarter of the year conducting a national

highs and lows of building a movement. We

search for the brightest minds. We were

will walk you through the sometimes tough

intentional about the process and invested

decisions we had to make, take you inside the

hundreds of hours building a talented, world-

big wins highlighted above and share the hard

class team. We hired experts in marketing, in

losses. Throughout, we reflect on the lessons

training, and in organizing, nearly doubling

learned as we scale this movement and build

our staff in four months. With a larger, more

the capacity to support one million women. We

specialized team, we are able to provide the

chose to organize this report based on how we

support needed to sustain engagement and

spent our time and resources. That is, building

deepen our impact beyond 2020.

an infrastructure, brokering partnerships,

This work is not done alone. In 2019 we spent a considerable amount of our time building the right partnerships, raising additional funds to support this work, and cultivating relationships

fundraising, anchoring our work in Selma, and expanding programming. You will still find bright, vibrant photos and compelling stories that put faces and names to this health crisis. Thank you for taking this journey with us.

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LOOK AT WHAT WE ACCOMPLISHED TOGETHER The writing of this report cannot keep up with the fire and pace of this movement. By the time you read this, 20,000 more women will have joined the movement.

373,


,340

WOMEN IN THE MOVEMENT


THE HEALTH CRISIS

THE HEALTH CRISIS FACING BLACK WOMEN BODIES TELL STORIES. THEY TELL STORIES OF TRAUMA, STORIES OF TOO MUCH WORK AND NOT ENOUGH REST. THEY CARRY THE WEIGHT OF POVERTY AND ABUSE AND LACK OF OPPORTUNITY.


The Health Crisis

BLACK WOMEN ARE DYING EARLIER AND MORE OFTEN THAN ANY OTHER DEMOGRAPHIC FROM PREVENTABLE DISEASES.

We learned that Black women experience

We’ve shared the statistics with you. But those

common among those with chronic conditions

numbers only tell part of the story. This year we learned that stress was a bigger factor in early death than we ever knew before. We listened to the stories of women in the movement. We read the news stories and the research articles. Black women are exhausted. We’re overworked and undervalued. We’re tired from holding down our household on one income. We’re weary from carrying the weight of unprocessed trauma and other people’s problems. This stress is showing up in our bodies. It shows up as high blood pressure. It shows up as heart disease. A recent study found that Black women are at increased risk

higher rates of depression compared to other groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control, depressive disorders are more such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, conditions that disproportionately affect Black women. Two out of three women in GirlTrek have been diagnosed with a chronic health condition and one out of four have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder. GirlTrek’s programs and campaigns are intentionally focused on Black women’s total well-being—their

1 IN 4

physical health (body) and

WOMEN IN GIRLTREK HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH A DEPRESSIVE DISORDER

led to deep and meaningful

REPORTED WALKING IMPROVED THEIR SYMPTOMS

because we are more likely to experience stressful life events including the death of a loved one, losing a job, and racial discrimination.1 Black women also have limited access to health care, healthy food options and safe green spaces, barriers that contribute to everyday stressors.

Prioritizing well-being over aesthetics or beauty has

96%

for cardiovascular disease

their mental health (mind).

changes in women’s lives. These changes are improving health outcomes for them

and their families. Two thirds of the women in GirlTrek saw an improvement in symptoms from a pre-existing health condition once they started walking and more than half are no longer taking medications. This adds up to fewer doctors’ visits, and nationally, lower health care costs, saving the country billions of dollars annually.

1 Felix, A.S., Lehman, A., Nolan, T.S., Sealy-Jefferson, S., Breathett, K., Hood, D.B., Addison, D., Anderson, C.M., Cené, C.W., Warren, B.J., Jackson, R.D., Williams, K.P. Stress, Resilience, and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among Black Women. Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2019;12: 1-14.


57%

OF WOMEN IN GIRLTREK HAVE EXPERIENCED SOME KIND OF TRAUMA

32%

OF WOMEN NEW TO THE MOVEMENT SAID THEY FELT DOWN, DEPRESSED OR HOPELESS IN THE LAST YEAR

49%

OF WOMEN NEW TO THE MOVEMENT SAID THAT THEY WERE UNUSUALLY TIRED OR HAD LITTLE ENERGY DURING THE DAY IN THE PREVIOUS TWO WEEKS


GIRLTREK IS A SOLUTION

GIRLTREK IS A SOLUTION TO THIS CRISIS WALKING IS A LOW-COST,HIGH-IMPACT INTERVENTION.


GirlTrek is a Solution

TAKING 30 MINUTES A DAY TO WALK GREATLY LOWERS THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE, STROKE, DIABETES AND DEPRESSION. We have created a change model that is

Gwen and Andrea have been testifying about

disrupting the pattern of disease among Black

the benefits of walking. They’re testifying on

women. Using award-winning, culturally

trails, on sidewalks, in churches, at meetings,

relevant marketing campaigns, programming

on the mountaintop. They’re telling the stories

tailored for Black women, online and on the

of weight loss and more mobility, stories of

ground support, and trained walk leaders,

healing and sisterhood.

GirlTrek helps women establish a daily habit of walking. We encourage women to walk 30

Walking is saving their lives.

minutes a day, 5 days a week. Some women

Once women create a habit of walking 30

walk every day. Like Andrea McEachron in

minutes a day, 5 days a week they start doing

Atlanta who has walked every day for the past

yoga and Zumba. They enter 5ks and run

three years and Gwen Ingram from Denver

marathons. They are dancing for fitness and

who has been walking every day since having

jumping rope. They’re becoming certified

a heart attack then stroke last year.

fitness trainers and hike leaders.

When Charlotte Robinson from Mississippi

We are not just measuring results in terms of

joined GirlTrek, the state-wide mortality

weight loss or savings in health care costs.

rate for heart disease was 221.1 per 100,000,

We are seeing a shift in the culture of health-

significantly higher than the national average

-the way Black women see themselves and

mortality rate for all Black women (177.7 per

how they think about health and fitness.

100,000). But Charlotte walked. Day in and day out. Rain. Cold. Sick. And sometimes so late and so dark that her husband walked with her. Charlotte lost 40 pounds, reducing her risk for heart disease. Black women like Charlotte and

Historically, public health campaigns haven’t resonated with Black women. However, GirlTrek has identified what Black women need to start walking, continue walking, and lead their healthiest, most fulfilled lives.


A MOTHER’S WORST FEAR COME TRUE

appear

Arnetta Burrell of St. Louis, Missouri couldn’t

Arnetta

have imagined that just months after

was

winning a scholarship to attend GirlTrek’s

destined

#StressProtest in Colorado that her 21-year-

to be a

old son Samuel would be murdered in cold

statistic, but in her own words, she was able

blood. Arnetta had already been under

to “walk through the pain” and find purpose

immense stress. She wrote to GirlTrek in

in her tragedy. One year after burying her

2018: “I am a single mother of two teenage

son, Arnetta, empowered by her work as

boys who works two jobs. I lost my father

a GirlTrek organizer, coordinated a walk

in June. My mother attempted suicide three

through the streets of Ferguson, Missouri

weeks later. I lost my brother two years ago.

that included mothers from around the region

I am drowning in work…” Arnetta’s letter

who’d also lost their sons to murder. Arnetta,

came, along with thousands of others from across the country, in response to GirlTrek’s search for the most stressed out woman in America. We’d decided to award ten scholarships to the women with the

that

St. Louis leads the nation

wearing a GirlTrek skully

in murders per capita (66.1

on an uncharacteristically

murders per 100,000 people

cold day in October, stood

in 2017, according to the FBI) followed by Baltimore,

before the crowd of women

Detroit and New Orleans–all

and told them that they had

cities where GirlTrek has

found their tribe in GirlTrek.

significant presence and growing activity.

That through GirlTrek they could come together to

most compelling stories to join us for the

walk and talk about their grief, and about

#StressProtest. Arnetta was one of the women

the powerful ways that they could unite

chosen. She came to Colorado exhausted

and work together to bring healing to the

but excited and left for home renewed and

streets of their neighborhoods. Arnetta’s

ready to organize on behalf of the movement.

story is not unique. In cities like St. Louis and

Nearly three months later Arnetta would

Baltimore and Detroit, where high crime and

receive the call that her first born son had

murder rates are leaving people hopeless,

been the victim of a homicide. Black women

GirlTrek is bringing hope and real solutions,

are disproportionately impacted by trauma,

giving mother’s tools to talk with each other,

resulting in higher rates of mental and

connect with their children, and make their

physical illnesses and early death. It would

surroundings safer.

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GirlTrek is a Solution

It’s not easy for even the best of scientists to figure out how to get thousands of people to form a habit that could change the course of their health—and especially their cardiovascular health. But Morgan and Vanessa have found a way.

Gary Gibbons, Director of the National Lung and Blood Institute


EDUCATE WOMEN ABOUT THE HEALTH CRISIS Black women are dying earlier and at higher rates than any other group of women. And no

OUR MODEL

one has been talking about it. Until now. We share the statistics. We tell the stories. We make this movement urgent.

PROGRAMMING TAILORED FOR BLACK WOMEN Walking is the solution. It dramatically reduces the risk of chronic disease and

ACTIVATE A PIPELINE OF HEALTH ACTIVISTS We train women to lead walks in their

improves mental health. And we know what Black women need to get moving, and stay moving.

community and advocate for changes. We draw inspiration from Black history to remind women of the power they hold to change their communities.

SOCIAL COHESION The GirlTrek sisterhood inspires and supports women on their journey, cheering each other on and showing up when a sister is in need. Each woman has made a commitment to her own health and becomes a healthy role model, and accountability partner, for other women.

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INFRASTRUCTURE


INFRASTRUCTURE BUILDING THE RIGHT TEAM


Infrastructure

WE’VE ALWAYS KNOWN WE COULD MOBILIZE ONE MILLION WOMEN TO WALK.

creating high impact, visually compelling

We knew the health crisis facing Black women

over resumes and screening applicants,

demanded this level of vision. In the years since we started GirlTrek, we’ve experienced tremendous success but we knew in order to scale this movement we needed more boots on the ground. We needed a world-class team of experts who specialize in marketing, in training, in building partnerships, in organizing. In August 2018 we started thinking about the skill sets we needed to get us to one million women by the end of 2020. We held design sessions and spoke with talent experts and trusted advisors like Arbor Brothers in New York City who helped us drill down on the type of staff we needed. We audited our current team’s skill sets to determine where there were gaps and opportunities. We thought about what we wanted our organization to look like and how we would create a cohesive, high functioning team. No one knew what we needed better than we did, so we chose to lead the search ourselves instead of hiring an outside firm. This decision required a major shift in focus in the first quarter of the year. In January, when we returned from our annual sabbatical, we launched a search for the brightest minds in the country. We developed a marketing campaign to find the right people, drawing on our experience

content. As a result, qualified candidates came flooding in. We spent hours pouring designing interview questions and developing a schema of the ideal candidate for each position. Candidates were assessed in oneon-one and group interviews with Morgan and Vanessa, followed by interviews with subject matter experts and members of our board for those we were considering for C-level positions. We made the tough decision to focus the first three months of the year on building our capacity to do this work. We brought thoughtfulness and intention to this process, and in the end, hired the brightest, most skilled team we could find. We hired experts— exceptional women who are smart, passionate and committed to GirlTrek’s mission. Three PhDs, two marketing experts, a tech genius, a labor organizer, three authors of books, two major producers, a former principal, and most powerful, one of our original volunteers (an OG, or Original GirlTrekker) who fought for fair housing in her former day job. With this expanded staff we were able to double our membership and support our members more effectively with engaging walking challenges and on the ground staff support.


LESSONS LEARNED

01

OUR TRUE COMPETITORS ARE THE CORPORATE GIANTS MAKING BLACK WOMEN SICK, NOT OTHER HEALTH OR FITNESS ORGANIZATIONS. We knew if we were going to disrupt disease and improve health outcomes for Black women, we needed the same kind of marketing might as the corporate giants. We conducted a non-traditional search, looking mainly outside of the nonprofit sector to attract talent that could make GirlTrek competitive with major corporations and big media entities that are competing for the hearts and minds of Black women. We had to start thinking like a for-profit, and that meant hiring like one. Our first leadership hire came from Big Pharma and two of our leadership hires had strong marketing backgrounds.

02

THE TALENT NEEDED TO RUN A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME TALENT NEEDED TO BUILD A MOVEMENT. We are movement building, not institution building. We learned that a less traditional management structure and a deeply skilled team of self-starters is required to build a movement. This year we made the mistake of forming internal teams with hierarchical leadership. This resulted in slower performance and dependencies. In the third quarter, we adjusted our model and required every team member to perform in the field. We held each individual accountable to key performance indicators and kept structures for peer support in place. We learned that we needed national staff members who could function in a “frontline formation.� This required that each member of the team was qualified to lead all aspects of goals tasked. This is not an organization that grows leaders. With urgency, we find, hire and deploy the most talented to a life-saving mission.

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PARTNERSHIPS


PARTNERSHIPS THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF CORPORATE INVOLVEMENT IN MOVEMENT BUILDING


Partnerships

THIS YEAR WE SPENT A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TIME AND ENERGY BUILDING NEW PARTNERSHIPS THAT SUPPORT GIRLTREK’S MISSION AND DEEPENING RELATIONSHIPS WITH OUR CURRENT PARTNERS. Over the years GirlTrek has partnered with major outdoor brands like Columbia and REI and worked with training partners like the American Council on Exercise and Sierra Club. Next year Columbia will be a lead partner for our outdoor trip leader training, and REI will sponsor our hike series during the Summer of Selma. We are now brokering partnerships with the retail clothing chain Ashley Stewart and the superstore Walmart. These are big wins, but you should also know that we worked for months on two major partnerships that didn’t work out. We have a strong brand with a membership of more than 370,000 Black women. We understand this demographic and know how

to speak directly to them. Major corporations wanting to market to Black women know this. This year we had five Fortune 500 companies come to us in partnership and we spent no less than three months engaged with them. Two of these partnerships would have been especially huge wins for GirlTrek, helping us quickly get to one million, but we made the decision not to move forward. There were a number of factors that played into our decision in both cases and we share some of the lessons learned.


LESSONS LEARNED

01

KNOW YOUR VALUE IN THE MARKET

02

DETERMINE WHETHER THE POTENTIAL PARTNERSHIP IS VALUES AND BRAND ALIGNED

03

GET THE CONTRACT SIGNED EARLY

04

HAVE THE RIGHT PEOPLE AROUND THE TABLE WHEN YOU’RE NEGOTIATING

05

KNOW YOUR ROI

06

HAVE THE END IN MIND

07

ASSESS THE RESOURCES AND WORKLOAD REQUIRED TO ENGAGE WITH A PARTNER

08

HAVE A LEGAL TEAM… DETAILS MATTER!

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GIRLTREK IN SELMA

GIRLTREK IN SELMA DUE DILIGENCE: LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR 2020


GirlTrek in Selma

IN MAY, AFTER OUR 50-CITY NATIONAL TOUR “ROAD TO SELMA,” WE WENT ON THE GROUND IN SELMA TO CULTIVATE THE RELATIONSHIPS WE’D BUILT LAST YEAR.

community walk and old school block party.

We brought our new team to get rooted in the

Selma we knew has changed, but the people

work and spent time with local changemakers like Ainka Jackson, Executive Director of the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation. We visited The Legacy Museum and walked the land where our ancestors fought and marched and died. We were reminded why we do this work. Why it is urgent. Why it is our

The economic crisis in Selma was palpable as our new team went door-to-door. The city’s majority Black residents are disproportionately affected by poverty and structural racism. The remain resilient and grounded in hope. We now have a groundswell of support in Selma— local politicians, historic Black churches, community leaders, media and everyday Black women from Selma to Montgomery. This visit laid the groundwork for Summer of Selma, the largest mass teach-

responsibility.

in and organizing

Over the three-

Freedom Summer in

day Memorial Day weekend, we hosted a virtual town hall, broadcast from the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church via Facebook LIVE. We shared our plans for the year and discussed the future of Selma on a panel that featured Ainka Jackson, Selma City Councilwoman Jannie Thomas and community organizer Callie Greer. The following day our team, along with volunteers from the community, went canvassing doorto-door, inviting families to join us for a

campaign since 1964. Summer of Selma is a 3-month campaign to mobilize a million women and reclaim the streets of every Black neighborhood in America. We will activate GirlTrek’s energized base of women and train thousands more. We will launch this campaign across the country on March 7, 2020, the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the moment when unarmed freedom fighters marching from Selma to Montgomery were met with billy clubs and tear gas on


the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We will bring Nikki Giovanni and Diane Nash and modern day organizers Tarana Burke, Alicia Garza and Bree Newsome for a panel on the roles Black women have played in resistance movements and the toll that has taken on our physical health. This one-day teach-in and organizer training is designed to inspire a new generation of activists and will be held at Harvard University and broadcast across 100 U.S. college campuses. The day will conclude

There are organizations in Selma who have been doing the work and we wanted to be sure to get the blessing of the community— the elders, the changemakers, the influencers. Historically cities like Selma have been used for PR and marketing opportunities for the benefit of other people. We didn’t want to be perceived that way so we worked on the ground with the people of Selma.

do community organizing and lead advocacy

02 THE OPPORTUNITY WAS GREATER THAN THE FOOTPRINT OF SELMA.

projects throughout the summer of 2020.

Upon visiting Selma, building relationships

with a training that prepares Black women to

After three full months of community organizing, Summer of Selma will conclude in Selma with an epic Woodstock-like celebration that will include a 54-mile relay on the historic freedom trail from Selma to Montgomery and a massive civil rightsinspired concert. GirlTrek and a host of powerful allies is bringing together stakeholders across different sectors to contribute to this mass organizing effort. Imagine the power of a million Black women in their communities leading into the 2020 elections.

LESSONS LEARNED

together civil rights legends Angela Davis,

01 YOU NEED ALLIES ON THE GROUND.

with local officials and piloting a wellness event on the river underneath the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge, we were deeply inspired—by the story, the people, the need, the legacy. We now understand just how big next summer’s organizing must be. We were compelled to expand the vision. From ground zero in Selma, with significant on the ground service and celebration, we will broadcast the largest teach-in since Freedom Summer. With the help of new partner Ragnar races, will also host a delegation of influential walkers to trace the historic 54-mile trail while giving every American the opportunity to complete their own “Freedom Trek” using Ragnar’s mobile app. As we are having a more feasiblysized concert in Selma, GirlTrek organizers will host block parties countrywide to celebrate MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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SAVING LIVES SAVING LIVES

PROGRAM IMPACT


Saving Lives

GIRLTREK IS CHANGING THE HEALTH TRAJECTORIES OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF BLACK WOMEN WHO SUFFER FROM PREVENTABLE DISEASES. This movement of everyday women has done what no billionaire-dollar weight loss company or public health campaign has done. Black women are walking and saving their lives. This year we collected key program data

so that when the national team focused on building the organization’s infrastructure, the movement kept going. Women kept walking. They challenged themselves. They inspired each other and held each other accountable. We saw women lose weight like Courtney Brown in Atlanta who lost 48 pounds and Iresha Picot from Philadelphia who lost 100 pounds. We saw women walk themselves out of depression.

39%

OF WOMEN ARE WALKING MORE THAN THEY WERE IN 2018

43%

OF WOMEN ARE WALKING AT A FASTER PACE THAN THEY WERE IN 2018

56%

OF WOMEN ARE STILL WALKING 5 DAYS/WEEK OR MORE

from new members and surveyed women following each walking challenge to measure behavior change. We also circled back to the women who participated in our 2018 national survey to determine if women had sustained reported activity levels and health outcomes. There were some compelling trends in the data we collected. These trends are the cumulative effect of deep, consistent programming. The groundwork had been laid

26%

OF THOSE TAKING MEDICATION HAVE A LOWER DOSAGE SINCE LAST YEAR

61% OF WOMEN HAVE LOST WEIGHT SINCE LAST YEAR


We’re seeing positive and consistent progress across all indicators of health including diet changes, increased exercise levels and reduction in prescribed meds. In a survey of women who participated in our national survey last year, we learned that women are still walking at life saving levels.

40%

In addition to reducing or eliminating risk for chronic diseases, many women walking with GirlTrek say walking has improved their mental health, providing greater clarity and peace.

OF WOMEN CONTINUED TO SEE IMPROVEMENT IN SYMPTOMS FROM A PREVIOUS HEALTH CONDITION

This peace has made them sleep better, and the regular physical activity has improved their breathing and given them greater endurance. They can walk longer and faster without getting winded. The sisterhood has provided them with accountability partners and daily motivation to walk, rain or shine. Others report increased self-esteem and selfconfidence since they started walking, and

96%

a greater sense of Black pride seeing Black women walking together and supporting each other. They love feeling connected to something greater than themselves. GirlTrek has shown that when we invest

OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH DEPRESSION SAID WALKING HAS IMPROVED THEIR SYMPTOMS

in holistic interventions that are culturally relevant Black women walk.

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Saving Lives

CONTINUING TO DO WHAT THEY SAID COULDN’T BE DONE. Our challenges keep women walking. We

Frankye Boone who teamed up with a theatre

announced our first challenge of the season

in Whiteville, North Carolina to promote her

in April, a 10-week walking challenge, the

7:30am Superhero Saturday walks on their

exact challenge Morgan and Vanessa gave

marquis. And women like Kimberly McGinnis

to their friends seven years ago, before

Bonner who had more than a hundred women

there was GirlTrek. Walk 10 weeks straight,

register for her first walk in just two days.

5 days a week, for 30 minutes a day. This year because of our engagement campaigns, women increased their activity levels and saw continued improvement in their health. While we were building our capacity for the work ahead, women across the country rose up. They didn’t wait for us. They continued to organize walks. They organized in church basements. They partnered with local organizations and businesses. They continued to recruit new women to the movement. They see the vision. They know GirlTrek is for them. They know if GirlTrek wins, we all win. This is the way we wanted to build this

FRANKYE BOONE

movement, the only way movements live

SUPERHERO SATURDAYS ORGANIZER

beyond the moments that created them. We are co-creating the future with women like Maleika Walker in Los Angeles who has already gotten 75 women (and counting) to take the pledge and walk. Women like


PARTICIPATION IN THE

GIRLTREK CHALLENGE BEFORE CHALLENGE

DURING CHALLENGE

42%

81%

WALKING 5 DAYS/WEEK

WALKING 5 DAYS/WEEK

THAT’S 97% GROWTH IN BEHAVIOR CHANGE

98%

OF WOMEN REPORTED THAT THEY WOULD MAINTAIN OR INCREASE THEIR WALKING LEVELS ONCE THE CHALLENGE ENDED

2 OUT OF 3 WOMEN PARTICIPATED IN MORE THAN ONE CHALLENGE

ACTIVATING NEW MEMBERS NEARLY HALF OF THE WOMEN HAD BEEN WALKING WITH GIRLTREK FOR LESS THAN A YEAR


Saving Lives

“

GirlTrek’s model recognizes that Black women are highly effective influencers, leaders, breadwinners, and advocates for themselves and their communities.

NEW PROFIT


IT WAS DIVINE TIMING KIMBERLY MCGINNIS BONNER SAYS ABOUT ORGANIZING HER FIRST GIRLTREK WALK. She’d watched the TED talk, saw the CNN

International Friendship Park. “Cincinnati

story, and put GirlTrek on her list of things to

was ready. They’ve been waiting,” Kimberly

do. Then she waited for somebody to organize

says of the response to the walk. “I created

a walk in her hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio.

a GirlTrek Cincinnati page, shared the page

No one did. Then one day, after talking to

with my people and asked my people to keep

a woman who had her own walking group

sharing it. And that’s how we got there. It was

but was having trouble building momentum,

all Facebook. I hadn’t created a Twitter or

Kimberly called

Instagram account

GirlTrek’s 1-800

yet… I said, if you

number. “Cincinnati

can’t come, share

needs to get on

the information, if

the map and get

you’d like to come in

started,” Carla, our

the future, like the

Community Care

page and become a

Manager, told her.

member of the group.

That was it. That’s

If you know Black

all Kimberly needed

women and girls,

to hear. When she got off the phone, she

share the message. I had my white friends

went straight to GirlTrek’s website, took the

sharing the message, I had male friends

pledge and picked a date for Cincinnati’s

sharing the message. It got to the point where

first organized walk—June 29. Kimberly got

they were like here’s Kim again with that

to work immediately spreading the word on

message.” This is what civil rights activist

Facebook, posting about the walk 2-3 times

Ella Baker meant when she used the word

a day on average. Within two days, more

“leaderfull.” Movements are not sustained

than 100 women had registered for the walk

solely by a charismatic leader, but by a

in Downtown Cincinnati at the Ted M. Barry

powerful and collaborative network of leaders.

37


Saving Lives

LESSONS LEARNED

01 THE REVOLUTION WON’T WAIT. While the national team was focused on building infrastructure, volunteers in the field kept programming going. They stood in the gap. They continued to lead. This is what a movement for the people, by the people looks like. No one needs permission. Because we all own the movement. This has meant rethinking how we approach programming. What do women need from us? How do we engage women in solution-making?

02 YOU CAN’T SACRIFICE INSPIRATION FOR SYSTEMS This year one of our goals was to takeover 1,000 neighborhoods with weekly walks led by trained walk leaders. In July, we piloted the curriculum and implementation model for our Neighborhood Captain program. While the content was there, the training did not have the signature GirlTrek feel. Vanessa and Morgan weren’t directly involved and they bring the energy and inspiration that members know and love. “We were still focused on building infrastructure and raising money and we should have been the faces of the training, so we don’t lose that feel,” says Morgan. Where we had started to build stronger systems, we lost


some of the GirlTrek experience. The question is, how do we scale and keep that signature feel. We realized that we cannot take our eye off the ball on what matters— relationships. The heart of GirlTrek is the sisterhood and we became too transactional in our training process. Morgan and Vanessa have since started “Walk and Talks” with organizers every week because it’s important that they stay close to the field.

03 TOP-DOWN NEVER WORKS IN MOVEMENTS We tried a different approach to training this year. We created tough criteria for the ideal organizer, conducted a direct recruitment and selection process, and conducted a rigorous multi-week training. It didn’t work and was not scalable. We needed 1,000 new parks programmed and we only succeeded at taking 253 women through this laborious process, and only 105 of them succeeded at programming their local park. We reflected as a team and remembered that movement building requires that we trust the expertise of the women we serve. We should have identified stars in the field, and elevated and crowned those stars with authority, providing every resource they needed— supplies, open-sources training, technical support. This distributed leadership model is classic—it’s what made GirlTrek thrive in early years.

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Saving Lives

CHANGING THE FACE OF THE OUTDOORS GirlTrek is writing Black women into narratives

“that was it! I was hooked!” This year she

that have ignored or outright excluded us.

decided to challenge herself even more—

Because we didn’t see Black faces hiking or

she hiked the mountains in Juneau, Alaska,

camping, many Black women didn’t think

an experience she referred to as the best

we belonged in those spaces—that the

adventure of her life. This year, in partnership

outdoors was for white people. But GirlTrek

with the Sierra Club, REI and Outdoor Voices,

is reclaiming the great outdoors, a space

we trained 28 hike leaders who have led

that our ancestors have always used for our

hikes with Black women and girls all over the

healing. Our hike series and annual three-day

country. On Labor Day weekend, we brought

self-care retreat in the Rocky Mountains, the

the largest group of Black women ever to

#StressProtest, introduces Black women to

any national park with our annual self-care

the adventure and beauty of the outdoors.

retreat #StressProtest. In November, our new

Like 64-year-old Cynthia Griffin Jackson of

Adventure Squad led hikes on National Take

Mississippi who hiked for the first time at

a Hike Day and will do so again next year on

#StressProtest two years ago. “I remember

National Trails Day in June. Siobhan Ollivierre,

hiking up Bible Point. The views that I saw

an organizer in Harlem and a new member of

were breathtaking… There were emotions

the Adventure Squad, led a hike on the John

that I remember to this day.” Last year Cynthia

Muir Nature Trail in the Bronx for National

hiked an even more challenging trail, and

Take a Hike Day.


SIOBHAN FROM HARLEM Two women, strangers, showed up to the first walk Siobhan Ollivierre organized. “It was freezing,” she remembers of that cold March morning, but the three women walked two miles. Siobhan never thought to organize more walks, but as they finished up their last lap around the track, the women told Siobhan, “If you organize these walks, we’ll come.” That was three years ago. Siobhan is now one of GirlTrek’s most active organizers and this summer became a Neighborhood Captain, leading walks every Saturday at Central Park North, not far from her Harlem apartment. When she learned about GirlTrek’s hike leader training, she was excited. “I want

SIOBHAN OLLIVIERRE

HARLEM, NEW YORK

to do it all. I love GirlTrek.” After an “intense” two-month training this summer, Siobhan became a certified hike leader, leading her first hike during GirlTrek’s three-day selfcare retreat in the Rocky Mountains. Before her first hike, she completed a practice hike in Central Park. “That was an exhilarating experience to lead four women to this hidden treasure in New York City. We slowed down and literally smelled the flowers.” The training ignited a love of nature, Siobhan says. She is excited to share the beauty of New York’s parks with the women of GirlTrek. “This year I really wanted to become a hike leader, and that accomplishment makes me feel so good… it has changed how I see myself… that

FOR MANY WOMEN IN GIRLTREK WALKING IS THEIR SANCTUARY. IT IS WHERE THEY CONNECT WITH NATURE, WHERE THEY GET GROUNDED. HIKING ON A TRAIL, THEY TAKE A MOMENT TO BE QUIET AND TAKE IT ALL IN.

what I’m doing is making a difference in my community.”

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REACH

REACH REACHING THE MASSES: A NARRATIVE OF BLACK JOY AND RESISTANCE


Reach

THIS YEAR WE INNOVATED.

THE STATS

We piloted GirlTrek TV, a weekly live talk show that streamed across GirlTrek’s social media channels, reached a new demographic, and took our message to the world stage, all in an effort to continue spreading the news of Black joy and rest as resistance.

38M SOCIAL MEDIA READ OF #GIRLTREK IN 2019

58+ NATIONAL AND REGIONAL NEWS STORIES

8.7M IMPRESSIONS OF THE EVENT HASHTAG #STRESSPROTEST ON TWITTER


LEADING THE CONVERSATION ON BLACK WOMEN’S HEALTH. GirlTrek is taking our inspiring narrative and incredible stories to spaces across the United States and internationally that have traditionally been closed to Black women and their voices.

THEY ARE CLAIMING BACK WHAT THE WOMEN BEFORE THEM SACRIFICED. “Everything about today’s world is telling us we have to go to war using tools men have taught us,” Morgan said. “No. They must be tools of our own divine feminine power.” Their message was clear: let your bones talk; connect to something greater than you; pray without ceasing; call the greatest part of you love.

Omega’s Women & Power Conference Rhinebeck, NY

2019 Featured Appearances

Skoll World Forum Oxford, England

Ashoka: Global Arab World Summit - Egypt

Nationswell Summit New York, NY

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Reach


OUR PARTNERS TRAINING PARTNERS American Council on Exercise Stanford University

American Diabetes Association Susan G. Komen Orrick

National Council for Behavioral Health

National Philanthropic Trust

Sierra Club

MEDIA

National Park Service Luvo

STRATEGIC PARTNERS Echoing Green Aspen Institute Arbor Brothers Teach for America

TED BET CNN Essence SELF Magazine Outside Magazine Women’s Magazine

Ashoka

O, Oprah Winfrey Magazine

New Profit

FOUNDATIONS

Xavier University Duke University Global Digital Health Science Center Neighbor Works America Bridgespan Group REI Columbia Sportswear Lane Bryant Ascena Retail Group

Clanell Foundation Hope and Grace Dalio Foundation Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

FELLOWSHIPS Harvard University Kennedy School Social Innovation + Change Initiative, Beck Visiting Social Innovators

Philosophy Patagonia Kaiser Permanente American Heart Association

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LOOKING AHEAD

LOOKING AHEAD GIRLTREK BEYOND ONE MILLION


Looking Ahead

GIRLTREK GOES GLOBAL The movement has gone global! We are also mobilizing women in other countries. There are millions of Black women in the African diaspora who face many of the same health issues as Black women in the United States, and for many of the same reasons. This year we trained women in Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, and Rwanda how to organize GirlTrek teams

GIRLTREK MOVES INTO CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND MASS INCARCERATION

in their cities and they are thriving.

One third of the 231,000 women and girls incarcerated in America’s prisons and jails are Black. Research has found that contact with the criminal justice system increases

GIRLTREK DIVERSIFIES THE OUTDOORS

women’s stress levels and chronic stress is

We will continue to scale our hike leader

linked to higher incidences of heart disease in

training, doubling the number of certified hike

Black women. GirlTrek addresses the distinct

leaders in 2020. We will launch a hike series

stressors Black women face. We will leave no

as part of Summer of Selma where our new

woman behind in this movement. This year we

hike leaders will lead hikes across the country.

visited women in a Washington, DC jail. This

More hike leaders will increase access to the

visit is the first of many in our effort to engage

great outdoors for Black women and girls and

and mobilize women in prisons and jails

diversify a space that has long been white and

across the country.

male.


GIRLTREK BUILDS AN ADVOCACY AGENDA Black women are the most civically engaged constituency in the United States and yet are rarely consulted on issues that impact their lives. GirlTrek plans to change that. We are building an advocacy agenda informed by the work that we are doing with hundreds of thousands of Black women on the ground. That advocacy agenda will eliminate barriers to health for Black women and generations of their families to come. 2020 will be a powerful political year and a pivotal first year of this advocacy work. Our goal is to mobilize our active base to go to the polls and vote their interests. This work will include mobilizing college-age women on campuses across America through our Summer of Selma organizing efforts. We’ve done it before with our Black Girl Justice League where Black women led walking caravans to the polls and we’ll do it again bigger and better.

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Dear supporters, friends and sisters on the frontlines, Thank you. There are some years that ask questions, some that answer, and this one, that deeply challenged us. And through it all--the public failures, wacky partnerships, weeks of staffing interviews, door-todoor canvassing in the high-noon heat of the south, the awkward news stories and clunky tech rollouts-you were there, sneakers on. Ready to push through. Sending “you got this!” emails, forgiving deadlines, doubling down on support--extending grace. And when we were tired, you got in the trenches with us this year. Like our friends at Arbor Brothers who rolled up their sleeves to help with the talent search, like Councilwoman Jannie Thompson of Selma who refereed a BINGO game at the GirlTrek block party or Rita Johnson-Greene, our board treasurer who organized her own family to do a holiday 5K. The moment we dared let up, all we had to do was look on WhatsApp, where a trailblazing new cohort of organizers in Africa, trained directly by us, were sending photos, victory dance videos and lessons to one another. This movement is so much brighter and impactful than we ever dreamed. From teaching breathing techniques to women in the DC Correctional facilities this year to leading a Civil Rights era-inspired sing-a-long at the Women and Power Summit at Omega, one thing is certain--GirlTrek is inspiring women and changing America. And that can’t happen--it won’t--without your love, your continued support, your absolute faith that community still matters, that everyday people can move mountains, that we have everything we’ve ever needed and that there’s no such thing as an intractable problem. Thank you for continuing to believe everyone… and get your 2020 party hat ready for a million walking!!! Sincerely, Morgan and Vanessa


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GirlTrek Impact Report 2019  

GirlTrek Impact Report 2019  

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